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Avoiding Misunderstanding in Negotiation

Misunderstanding is a common cause of negotiations breaking down.  Such breakdowns may occur due to differences of viewpoint, background or cultures as well as many other factors. In negotiation especially it is possible not to ‘hear’ what others intend to say due to lack of assertiveness on the part of the other person or ineffective listening.

Clarify the Goals
It is essential to have a clear understanding of what the other side is seeking to achieve.  This is not always what they initially state as their aims.  Looking at interests often allows for an understanding of the real goals.  Similarly, it is worthwhile clearly stating what your own goals are so that both parties can work together to seek mutual benefit.

State the Issues Clearly
It is important to identify the real issues involved and discard those that are not relevant.  This enables the focus of the negotiation to remain firmly fixed on the interests and differences of the individuals involved, without argument spreading to other areas of work.

 Misunderstandings in negotiation can easily occur, it is important to:

  • Clarify individual goals.
  • State the issues clearly.
  • Consider all viewpoints.

 

Clarify the Goals
It is essential to have a clear understanding of what the other side is seeking to achieve.  This is not always what they initially state as their aims.  Looking at interests often allows for an understanding of the real goals.  Similarly, it is worthwhile clearly stating what your own goals are so that both parties can work together to seek mutual benefit.

State the Issues Clearly
It is important to identify the real issues involved and discard those that are not relevant.  This enables the focus of the negotiation to remain firmly fixed on the interests and differences of the individuals involved, without argument spreading to other areas of work.

Consider all Viewpoints
During negotiation, a great deal of time can be spent in establishing the facts.  However, it should be realised that ‘facts’ tend to provide another area over which to disagree.  Another person’s worries, even if totally unfounded, are still real worries and need to be taken into consideration.

Conflicts often arise because of differences in personal viewpoints.  Remember that to accept and understand someone else’s viewpoint does not imply agreement with that point of view.  Rather, it shows respect for the person and the wish to work together to find a mutually satisfactory solution.

Similarly, it is helpful to encourage the other person to understand your viewpoint.  An open, honest and accepting discussion of the differences in perspective will often help to clarify the issues and provide the way forward to a resolution.




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