It is SO easy for meetings to reach that point … people want to deflect blame from themselves in any way they can, and they become absolutely focused on their goal.
However … it is possible to run effective negotiation meetings that actually bring value to both parties.
Here are a few pointers:
1. Focus on the end game … if there are two parties involved (client/vendor; sales/production; wife/husband) understand what each REALLY wants from the discussions. I know you would love us to deliver for end of August, but that will cause major problems can we find a compromise solution? Try to understand the minimal acceptable solution for each party … and if you can do better than that, each should be happy!
2. Start every meeting with a positive tone. Marching into a meeting looking like you are ready for a fight and throwing out “barbed” statements doesn’t help! Keep it light, be organised, have an agenda and start with some positive comments.
3. Be courteous to the other side … if you are bringing coffee and donuts for your side, then bring some for them too. It is amazing how much mileage you can get from a coffee! Treat them the way you would want to be treated!
4. If (and when) things start to go off the rails gently nudge things back on track with a focus on the end result .. one that will try to meet the minimum requirements of everyone. You need to demonstrate that you understand “their” position, that you are empathetic to their position and are prepared to work towards that goal. You DON”T need to agree to do exactly what they want … just try your best to get there.
5. The thing you should avoid is putting a stake in the ground and committing yourself to a “position” that polarises the sides. You should be willing to talk, to try and compromise, to not be judgemental and to be empathetic.
Most reasonable people will respond to this kind of approach. The problems come when neither side is willing to take a lead with “smoothing” the waters … it takes someone willing to be a leader in that situation, but everyone benefits.
“You can catch more flies with honey, than with vinegar” … should be the quote to start ALL negotiations!
Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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