I once heard it said that a successful negotiation is when both parties feel a little aggrieved. Put another way, this is the idea that if both people feel only a little hard done by, then the negotiation was probably fair. The reality is that negotiation involves compromise and, especially when conflict is involved, we rarely get everything that we want.
So how do you best navigate or confront conflict-ridden situations and achieve the best possible outcomes?
1. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes
This may seem obvious but it bears reminding as, when it comes to a confronting situation, we’re often so hell-bent on our own position (and winning someone over to that) that we forget to take where they are at currently into account. People all see the world through the lens of their own experiences, but if we ‘seek first to understand’, we’ve got a far greater chance of a successful (and positive!) resolution.
2. Look for a win-win
Taking on board the suggestion about negotiations above, the opposite side of the coin is true too. Although both parties might feel as though they missed out on something in the end, they should also feel like they gained something too, and that you made some concessions. Going into a conversation or encounter with the goal of a win-win in mind is also a great real-time reminder to consider their perspective, as in point 1. To be able to perceive what they would take to be a win, you have to be open to asking where they’re at, understanding what their objectives are and what they’re looking to achieve. Not only this, when people feel as though you care that they get their needs met, they’re also far more likely to work with you towards a happy ending (and possibly make some concessions of their own!)
3. Don’t be afraid to confront what needs confronting
Sometimes our aversion to conflict can get in the way of us dealing with things in a timely fashion. What tends to happen when we bottle things up is that by the time we do then come to address them, we explode more than was perhaps necessary, or the whole thing snowballs in our heads. It’s not easy for people who don’t like confrontation, but try to get people-related problems out in the open quickly, and maturely, so that they don’t fester. Being proactive means that you don’t waste valuable energy or precious headspace on it for longer than is necessary either, and you can work together towards a resolution sooner.
4. Be able to admit if you’re wrong
We all make mistakes and, unfortunately, it can often be in this territory where conflicts arise. It’s an important skill, both personally and interpersonally, to be able to admit when you have made a mistake, and to learn from it. If you are struggling to find the lesson amidst things going wrong, ask the other person what they think you could have done differently, or how they might have dealt with it had they been in your position. The open willingness of that question alone shows your collaborative spirit and sets the tone for a positive outcome, plus the insights and understanding that often result are invaluable.
Richard Conway is Founder & CEO of Pure SEO.