Communicating is a constant in all negotiations; in all interaction for that matter. Understanding the dynamics of effective communications to settle conflict is an important aspect of managing the negotiation process. The challenge to communications during any conflict situation is that listening is typically impaired. Those involved, even when they do listen, are not apt to hear what is being said. To reach an accord the parties need to be able to communicate with each other. The first rule of any negotiation is to open channels of communication.
Communication concepts are important to understanding human interaction.
- Learn to listen: The ability to effectively state your message is obviously important. But the ability to clearly hear the other person's message is equally important to reaching an accord. Everyone should work at developing effective, interactive listening skills. When the other person is talking, you have the chance to learn something; if you are listening to what they are saying rather than thinking about what you are going to say.
- Learn to Observe: Observing other people while talking enables you to make sure they are awake, alert and interested. If not, regroup and find a way to get them personally involved in the conversation. When speaking, you are responsible to make sure the others are listening. Verify this by observing the non-verbal reactions to what you say. You are looking to see if they are thinking of something else, if they are planning what next to say, or if they are just asleep!
- Take Responsibility: It is important that you are being heard and understood. We all know the game of telephone. Appreciate that the other person will likely have to review what was said today with others. It is your goal that he or she be able to clearly restate your case as you intend it to be heard. So proactive speaking is an essential tool when negotiating.
There are simple ways to keep the other person interested and attentive to you. 1. Pepper your comments with questions designed to draw them into the discussion. By being involved in the dialogue, they will have to consider what they are saying. And when they speak, it is your turn to listen. They may reveal something of value. 2. Use silence to draw their attention. Pause before an important point you are about to make and let the silence grow until they take notice. Then proceed knowing you have their attention at the moment. 3. Use questions to reinforce their understanding of what you have said. Ask their opinion of a point you just made. If they have missed the point, restate it. You won't have as good a chance to reinforce what you have said once they leave the meeting.
If you aren't clearly understood, what chance do you have?
The author is an assistant editor at How-to-Negotiate.com, a site featuring articles about organizational skills required in the dispute settlement process and how people negotiate everything in their daily lives be it personal issues, parenting matters, social conflicts, or business or work related challenges. The site promotes the fact that conflict is a natural aspect of everyone's life and we should all work at improving our ability to negotiate the curves life throws our way.