Few Learn, But All Need Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Skills

March 24, 2016 By Irma Tyler Wood

Whether I’m training business, government, not-for-profit or educational leaders, I often introduce my negotiation or conflict resolution workshop with these words:

“The most important things you need to know in life, no one explicitly teaches you, i.e., how to build a solid, healthy relationship with your significant other, how to raise a child, how to cope with failure, how to manage success and how to deal with conflict constructively.  If we are lucky we have parents who can model these skills successfully.  However all too often they had little or no preparation for these major life tasks either.  Today’s workshop on negotiation is designed to introduce one of the essential life skills you need to successfully influence and persuade others and manage conflict constructively.”

One of the real satisfactions of my work is it’s applicability to every area of one’s life, the personal as well as the professional.  Here are some comments I’ve heard over the years: 

“We walked in with two positions, ours and theirs, and using this process we came up with an even better solution than either of us had imagined.”  - Business leader 

“When you told us, not only could we resolve this contract, but that we might actually like each other when it was done, I was sure you didn’t fully comprehend the level of mistrust, hostility and animosity between union and management.”  - Union President 

“If I’d had this workshop 10 years ago, I might still be married, I didn’t realize I needed to negotiate with my spouse.” - IBM salesman

“I used this with my teenage daughter last night and it worked.” - Physician leader 

Why are negotiation and conflict resolution training so powerful?

  1. Many people use ineffective, inefficient, even destructive models of negotiation and conflict resolution because that’s all they know; when given models that produce better outcomes more efficiently, they quickly discard their old ways of negotiation.
  2. The training often involves, “joint training,” which gives all of the parties to a dispute or conflict a common process and vocabulary for negotiation and conflict resolution.
  3. The negotiation model is elegantly simple; it’s a three part model with just seven elements which can be used to prepare, conduct and review any negotiation.  To paraphrase a CEO from a fortune 500 company, “It’s not rocket science, it’s organized common sense.”
  4. The training makes explicit participant’s unconscious assumptions about negotiation success and causes them to question those assumptions.  
  5. The training process strengthens and/or allows parties to build or repair working relationships by  giving them opportunities to address issues of trust, “red flags and elephants” during the training. 

There are at least 24 proven tools and processes for effective negotiation, collaboration and conflict resolution.  Many of them were developed at the Harvard Negotiation Project, others are outgrowths of my experience in training and facilitation.  For more information about negotiation and constructive conflict management training and facilitation, call or email Irma Tyler-Wood at 617-868-8641 and/or itylerwood@kithoughtbridge.com or visit our website at www.kithoughtbridge.com.