By Shane Porter
Step 1 - Back Up Plan
Having a back-up plan before you step into a conflict is absolutely crucial. By having a plan B in your pocket prior to dealing with any conflict, you can remain confident that you can still move forward even if your negotiation fails. Remember that your plan B is your best solution that you can come up with on your own without having to talk with your counterpart. For the hostage negotiator, this could mean using the tactical team to take control by force. For two angry neighbors, this could mean going to court. Your plan B gives you the confidence to deal with your counterpart and the ability to move forward, whether you reach an agreement with them or not.
Step 2 - Emotional Control
Your anger is the biggest challenge towards winning the conflict. You need to control your anger by separating the person from the problem. Have empathy on the person for attacking you because their real anger lies in the problem, not with you. View the situation rationally without allowing anger into the equation. You always have to remember that if you react with anger—then you've lost the battle.
Step 3 - Defusing Their Anger
The other obstacle to overcome is your opponent's anger and frustration. These emotions are stopping them from seeing things rationally. Their primary focus is that they were wronged and now they want retribution— often from you. Think of their emotions like a pressure cooker on a stovetop. There are two ways of releasing the pressure: (1) you can pop the lid and the have the contents explode out of the pot from the sudden change in pressure, or (2) you can engage the pressure-release valve and slowly let that steam pressure out of the cooker which will enable you to open the lid without injury. The same is true for an angry person. You want to hit their pressure release switch by using active listening skills. Listen and acknowledge their concerns. Engage them in empathetic responses by trying to see the problem from their perspective. Paraphrase back to them what they told you in your own words. You will see a dramatic difference in their level of hostility as they get to vent their anger. This means you disarm them and end up winning.
Step 4 - Options
Now comes the time when you must reframe their position into interests. Do this by first reframing them from an enemy into a partner. Then reframe all their personal attacks on you back on the problem. Then finally, uncover their interests behind their demands with non-confrontational questions.
Step 5 - Reframing
Present options to your opponent and get them involved in the process of thinking about possibilities for a solution. You might have to present some various options that they have available to them. Strive for a cooperative effort to find mutually satisfying options that will benefit both parties.
Step 6 - Letting Them Choose Their Fate
Empower your opponent with the choice to make his or her own fate. Don't back them into a corner by telling them what to do. Everyone needs control over their own life otherwise they feel threatened. Let them pick the option that you both have discussed. If they still fail to comply at this point then ask them what the possible consequences are if no agreement can be made. As a last resort, use your back-up plan as an alternative to the negotiation.
Step 7 - Call CCNSB
If all else fails sometimes you need a professional mediator. At the Counseling Center of New Smyrna Beach we are trained to help people work through life's most challenging conflicts and problems. Give us a call, because nobody really likes to lose!