How To Effectively Solve Problems During Negotiations
To attack any problem efficiently, follow these steps.
Step 1: Establish the ground rules.They are:
1. Be polite, patient, and honest.
2. Listen actively without interrupting the speaker.
3. Focus on the future and avoid unnecessary discussions of the past. Focus on resolving conflict and avoid assessing blame.
4. Speak only for yourself, using "I" instead of "You" sentences. "You" statements place blame on the other person and do not allow the statement-maker to admit to any culpability. The other person will resent the speaker for those statements; thus they hinder negotiations. Alternatively, using "I" statements opens the discussion for exploration, creativity, and change in response to the situation. "I" statements allow for a review of an individual's own responses to the situation that exists.
Step 2: Identify and prioritize your interests.Understanding the difference between a position and an interest is an important step in effective problem-solving. Focusing on positions, rather than on interests, limits settlement options, and sometimes results in agreements that fail to satisfy your actual interests. In contrast, identifying interests expands bargaining room and helps you understand that there is more than one way to resolve your issues. Once identified, prioritize your most important goals so that you can comfortably consider compromising on your less important objectives.
In addition, clear identification of big-picture goals at the outset helps you see that you share many common interests and concerns, which will play an important role in achieving the best possible outcome.
Step 3: Address any temporary issues first.First tackle temporary, urgent concerns because you will not be able to effectively negotiate if you are fixated on urgent issues that you feel must be addressed now.
Step 4: Gather and exchange your information.Before you can reach a full settlement agreement, collect all the necessary information.
Step 5: Brainstorm your options.Brainstorming provides an open environment where you should feel as though your thoughts and opinions are being heard.
Brainstorming should be fast-paced so that you don't have time to self-evaluate or to arrive at preconceptions about options. No idea is a bad idea. You should be encouraged to think outside the box and discouraged from criticizing other's ideas. Even ridiculous suggestions are acceptable because they may lead to other helpful ideas.
Additionally, you should avoid rewarding ideas at this point because you may focus on those suggestions and close your minds to alternatives. Judgment and analysis at this stage stunts contributions and limits creativity. By exploring as many proposals as possible, you gain the best chance of reaching a settlement that addresses your most important interests.
Step 6: Evaluate your options.After thorough brainstorming, you should weigh, tweak, and trade options as you work to reach a final settlement. Consider BATNA (the best alternative to a negotiated agreement) and WATNA (the worst alternative to a negotiated agreement). Evaluate how well your interests can be met by the proposed solutions, as well as the cost and benefit of each proposal. Try to step into the other person's shoes and analyze whether she would be happy with the proposal if she was on the opposing side.
Step 7: Select your best available options.After creatively brainstorming and evaluating your options, it is time to make a final decision!