Image Impasse Impatience
Unlike most animals which are absorbed by basic survival needs, man has the capacity to dream and plan. It is the capacity to strategically plan and devise schemes that makes man the formidable predator that he is.
The generation of ideas to better handle a situation or solve a problem is the difference between negotiating and bartering. Mediators know to achieve their goal of an accord they need to get the parties to look beyond the immediate issues and come up with viable solutions.
Unfortunately most of us were raised in an educational environment that taught us that answering questions wrong or raising new ideas would be met with ridicule and disdain from our peers. So many people, including professionals, are reluctant to tender possible solutions for fear of sounding foolish or ill-prepared. The mediator solicits all ideas. He then reformulates them to stress the positive attributes presents them to the other person to see if they have merit. The mediation advantage is that the mediator discusses such ideas in caucus or breakout sessions protecting the ego of the person making the suggestion. Taking the idea to the other party and tendering it as the mediator's dissipates the likelihood that it will be considered biased coming from the other person.
This craft of conjuring ideas, presenting them in their best light, and working between the parties is one of the core ingredients of mediation. It is called shuttle diplomacy.
Negotiators may also use the solicitation of ideas to get the other party to think beyond the obvious, to tender new approaches, and to expand the context of the issues. It is this brainstorming that often leads to solutions where the parties we once unable to agree.
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Walking a golf course before the tournament enables you to visualize the situation once the game begins. Illustrations offer the same opportunity before any form of combat; physical or mental.
Illustrations add clarity to a discussion. They allow the parties to better understand what is being said. By applying a concept to a real situation, the nuances of the concept can be demonstrated.
Illustrating a point also allows the negotiator to shift roles from being an equal to being in charge. Gaining or establishing credibility during the negotiating process is an excellent tactic to use to move the parties closer to agreement.
There are many ways to use illustrations in a negotiation or mediation:
-If dealing with rent, salary or other monetary venue, create an example of the concept that illustrates the outcome of your proposal. If you are seeking to impress the other person with how much value he or she may expect, then use very large numbers. If you are trying to minimize the impact, use small numbers.
-If you are discussing the physical characteristics of something, find something to draw on and sketch out the situation. While you are in the process of drawing, ask the other person to make suggestions on how to improve the drawing. This collaborative effort often helps to build trust and break down barriers.
-When discussing your company's complicated approval process and you see the other person is becoming detached, sketch out the various levels and approval criteria. A picture often is easier to understand than a stream of words about an unfamiliar organization.
-When the other person tries to explain something, feel free to provide feedback by diagramming what you think you are hearing. This will help you to remember what is being said as well as validate you are hearing it correctly.
Illustrations tend to make complicated concepts simple. This is because only the critical parts make it to the page.
The use of illustrations can ease tensions and extend responsive-time allowing both people to think rather than feel pressured to always be verbally jousting.
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When the male peacock spreads its feathers he is seeking to become more appealing. A baboon preens looking at his image in a pond. Trying to look good is natural. One's image is important.
Managing people is all about gaining and maintaining respect. It is about one assuming a leadership role. A mediator is trained to do this through his opening remarks. He sets the stage, establishes the rules, and directs those in attendance. He assumes the role of a group leader.
Parents are bequeathed a leadership role when they have a child. As the child develops, that role should evolve from autocrat to democrat to diplomat.
The image you portray supports or detracts from your role. Dressed for success means that your attire reflects what you expect to achieve. How you carry yourself, your deportment, signals how you feel about yourself. How you treat others establishes how you expect to be treated yourself.
Do not take one's respecting the wants and needs of others as a sign of weakness. It is the mark of an effective leader, an empathetic negotiator, a good mediator, a caring parent. When a mediator enters a dispute resolution meeting, he knows the image he portrays will impact the results of the session.
Plan ahead and dress for the role, assume the persona appropriate with your goals and objectives, and be yourself.
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When the antler of two stags become so interlocked that they can't separate, they are likely to die from exhaustion struggling to free themselves from the impasse.
Negotiating impasses occur when the two sides are unable to reach agreement and become deadlocked. Invariably both parties are hurt by failing in their mission. At the least, an impasse results in a delay.
Like "No!" an impasse ca be used as a method of signaling to the other side the seriousness of their position. Impasse sends a credible message that a party's position is genuine and not merely a bluff.
Bias can also result in an impasse. As disputes typically occur in situations where the facts can be interpreted in different ways. Misreading such facts can result in misjudging the other person's position as a bluff.
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A panther patiently stalks his prey. When his intended entree drifts away from the herd, the stealthy cat makes its move. When the startled prey turns to run, the panther is in a perfect position to attack. If he presents himself too soon, the gazelle will dash out of harms way.
Never rush a negotiation. The agreement will suffer. While we all have time, to rush to an accord typically means leaving something on the table. Knowing this, one should weigh the benefit of staying on schedule or extending the session to improve the terms. This is always a balancing act. The important thing is to be aware of the impact of staying the course and make an informed decision concerning the deadline.
Solving a dispute is like stalking a prey. During the discourse phase look for signs of weakness before making an aggressive offer. Look for indications your assumptions are wrong before extending an initial offer that might miss the mark. Be concerned that your flank is covered as the best defense is a strong offence. When being stalked act erratically, back track in the discussion to an earlier topic, and frequently stop and ask for clarifications. This will keep the other person off balance putting off a tough question or premature offer until you are better prepared to respond
There are many negotiations within a primary negotiation. The importance of each sub-negotiation dictates the patience you must apply to do a good job. The higher the importance, the slower the pace should be as value-added is the goal of every negotiator. In a divorce settlement, reaching an accord dissolving a lifetime together deserves patience in allocating what you have accumulated. Give your spouse time to make charitable gestures rather than rushing to divide the remains. Value each for what they represent, memories as much as value.
Impatience in a negotiation can:
-Forfeit potential but not disclosed concessions from the other person.
-Deprive you of time to try to improve your position.
-Hide other issues yet to be raised that may impact the overall deal structure.
-Hide unknown pressures the other person is facing that may help you gain needed concessions.
-Indicate weakness on your part which can be costly.
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Man is not the only beast that allocates importance to an objective. A hungry tiger will place you higher on his priority list than a sated lion enjoying the shade of a tree for a catnap.
Proper dispute resolution requires an evolving reassessment of the importance of each aspect of the negotiation, the sub-negotiations. The best way to do this is to draw out all of the issues early in the process to enable the entire dispute to be thoroughly considered before you set about to settle any of the sub-negotiations.
Individuals to a dispute invariably value individual issues differently. A negotiated settlement that benefits all of the parties utilizes this disparity in valuation. A mediator is trained to recognize and address non-monetary issues as part of the settlement process to offset monetary concessions and achieve win-win accords.
Using the importance-equation to manage the settlement process:
-Identify the core issues.
-Identify your valuation for each core issue.
-Identify the other person's likely valuation for each core issue.
-Identify non-core issues.
-Identify your valuation for each non-core issue.
-Identify the other person's likely valuation for each non-core issue.
-Identify non-core/non-threatening issues the parties can agree on quickly to get the process started on the right foot.
-Work from low value to high value issues.
-If there is a disparity in importance of issues, pair issues in a fashion that will allow both to gain concessions of import for matters of great importance.
-Demonstrate what each person has to gain from the accord.
-Ask for the agreement to be signed.
-Affirm the decision by recapping again how each person has gained from the accord.
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A male peacock uses its colorful feathers to attract a mate. Similarly, a Venus fly trap uses its colorful petals to attract its prey. Beware of what looks enticing, you may not be the only predator in the room!
Overtly trying to impress others seldom achieves the objective. Impress others through your actions, knowledge and commitment. Being professional, practiced and sincere garners respect. Informal leaders of small groups usually gain the role by their acts and deeds rather than their resume.
Act like a leader and others will follow. Most people are more comfortable following of than leading. Take advantage of this human trait by stepping up to the plate.
The people management skills required in the dispute resolution process suggests that informal session leaders pro-actively take care of those they want to lead. This does not mean giving them what they want; it means trying to educate them and then give them what they need.
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The ability to process information sets predators apart. Wolves and hawks will track and observe their prey until they are confident they have the advantage. Only then do they strike. Man, without thinking, will start a brawl in a bar which he cannot possibly win to impress a woman.
The exchange of information is at the core of the dispute resolution process. Without gaining insights about the other person, trying to negotiate is like walking around in the dark. Without being able to 'see' your surroundings, how can you expect to know you are on the right path?
The gathering information requires the skills of a sleuth. You aren't always sure of what you are looking for until you come across it. The first step is to be prepared mentally to accept input that may or may not seem germane. Then sort through the data to see how it might apply.
Information is data waiting to be put to use. In and of itself it does not have value or hold the key to success. Properly considered, strategically applied, and creatively used information can significantly alter the outcome of a negotiation; ergo its potential value.
Hone your sleuthing skills so that you collect all available data before starting serious discussions.
Simple Ways to Gather Information:
-Review available reports or studies.
-Visit the location in question.
-Suggest reenacting the incident that caused the dispute.
-Have the parties to the dispute recap in writing what they each think happened.
-Talking to peers who have dealt with the same person or company.
-Seek input from others who might be familiar with the issues.
-Listening to what the other person has to say rather than thinking about your response.
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In the wild, innovation occurs when a species discovers new ways to do old tasks. Those species unable to innovate soon fall prey to those who are best able to adopt new ways.
What does it take to introduce innovation into negotiations? People naturally resist change. They like to be in their comfort zones; areas in which they are experienced.
Most people don't consider ways to expand the issues beyond their primary concerns; especially in a negotiation. By increasing the scale and scope of the negotiation, the parties often find reasons to agree where none were evident before.
To stimulate creativity among participants, a mediator can ask each person to write on a piece of paper ideas that come to mind during the discussions and submit these to him at each break. The mediator is able to collect these new ideas and introduce them at the beginning of the next session or in caucus with one or both sides to see if they have merit. This relieves the person making the suggestion of the risk of making a 'dumb' suggestion. People hate to be wrong. That is why they seldom offer suggestions in public forums. That is not to say they are without creative ideas.
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Knowing when to coil and the time to strike is a basic survival need for a diamond back rattler. Strike at a rearing stallion too soon and the snake could be crushed by a hoof.
Man has changed little over the last 100 centuries. We remain animals, genetically designed in body and mind to survive.
It is things that have changed since we hunted and gathered to eat. Our survival, AKA coping, instincts have had to evolve along with society's advances from semi-nomadic to organized agrarianism, manufacturing, colonialism, mercantilism, and now the information age.
Our minds are hardwired to survive and reproduce. Observe any teenager. Their focus is intense. As they mature they are taught to conform to society's rules. Some adopt; many don't.
Most of us believe so fervently in the potential of self-improvement. With the right parenting, a great education, and lots of hard work, anyone can grow up to be president or a rock star. It's the American way. Rationally, we understand that everyone is born with limitations. Culturally, though, that reality has never been very palatable.
We can shape our behavior within the limits. The human design or blueprint is programmed by base survival instincts. While we plan to negotiate for strategic reasons we are driven by a strong, natural aversion to losing. We have an instinct to win.
Fiercely avoiding failure, we routinely take risks when faced with highly tangible threats or rewards. We possess strategic capability, but we are controlled by our inner needs.
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Wolves work together integrating their individual efforts to meet the pack's collective needs to survive the harsh winter.
Negotiators, mediators, mothers, fathers, children, politicians. those in the work force, virtually everyone in a society need the ability to balance wants, needs, expectations, and solutions into a cohesive, integrated, working accord. The integration of the collective needs will yield the best, most lasting, negotiated results.
To optimize your negotiating results view those involved in the dispute as a small group. Groups need to be managed. Effective mediators are trained at managing the process. Negotiators can learn from their mediating brethren in this regard. Parents, too, would benefit from approaching family disputes from an inclusive perspective seeking to recognize and integrate everyone's needs.
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Wolves respect the pack's leader because he delivers. If challenged, he fights vigorously. For his followers, he provides food, security and order for the pack. A wolf is simply killed is he does not perform. Man is unique in being able to lie for profit and live toile again even when caught.
People expect to be treated fairly by others. They expect to be able to trust what is being said. This is our nature, human nature. But once lied to, they become suspicious and questioning. As a leader, manager, mediator, father, mother, or negotiator, your word is paramount. Don't sully it cavalierly. The loss will be long lasting and will erode future negotiations even after your actions have changed.
Integrity is an attribute we are each given to lose. A reputation for integrity is earned over time based on how you handle yourself, how you negotiate, and how you perform. If you develop a reputation as one who does what he says, says what he means, and honors his word, you will be able to truncate the process of resolving disputes because others will simply take your word.
Managing people is all about gaining and maintaining respect. A mediator is trained to do this. He assumes the role of group leader. Parents are bequeathed this role when they have a child. The negotiator must earn the respect and assume the role to become the informal group leader.
A negotiator must quickly achieve the respect of others. This is done most effectively by:
-Building and maintaining a good reputation.
-Committing only to what you can do.
-Honoring your word by doing what you say you are going to do.
-Expecting others to do the same and telling the you expect them to honor the word.
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It takes a special intellect to deceive another. Predators strategically plan their strikes. They use intrigue and deception to stalk a prey. Non-predators fall victim to stealth attacks unless they stay vigilant or don't stray from the herd.
Rumors and intrigue can undermine good communications and trust. Dispute resolution requires the proactive identification of distrust and deception to facilitate effective communications. Often people will deceive themselves into believing rumors they know to be false based on ungrounded assumptions. Dispute resolution requires airing rumors to dispel false assumptions.
Assumptions are dangerous but necessary. Seldom does one have all the information available to make a decision. So the blanks must be filled in. How you do this determines the success of the outcome. The problem with intrigue is that it is contagious. Rumors spread because people want to be in the know. Unfortunately, it is typical to blend what is hears with what is known into a false reality. When this false reality becomes the basis for key decisions errors can be made.
The best way to diffuse rumors is to privately ask what each person thinks about the subject or issue. If there is a substantive difference, get everyone together and identify the disconnection. By discussing the matter openly counter-productive false impressions may be avoided.
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A good poker player knows when to fold and folds early to preserve his cash to play hands with real potential.
Everyone knows that time is money. Better put, time is a commodity to be acknowledged. Whether it is traveling to a meeting or taking the time to sit in on a planning session, the time expended is an in investment in the outcome.
Researching an issue or adversary is an investment of time and effort. While preparing for meetings often takes far longer than the meeting itself, the best prepared person usually enjoys a strategic advantage.
It is appropriate to prepare properly for every meeting. Before investing the time in preparing properly for a meeting, make sure the meeting warrants your investment. If not, cancel the meeting. Find another project worth your time and attention.
Negotiators strategically try to get their opponents to invest in the process to increase their need to reach an accord.
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