Many of the most productive conversations we have lead to an understanding of sorts. In some cases they allow us to connect with one another in a way that leads to solving a problem, advancing a project, and creating opportunity for a next step or action.
This kind of conversation is similar to a negotiation where both or multiple parties participate. Because people are involved, outcomes tend to be fairly unpredictable, and that is a good thing.
If we could boil down the dynamics of relationships to a specific and neat formula, we would cut ourselves out of the myriad possibilities that exist for new creation. In fact, while ideas may sound similar at the moment of conception, the sweet spot is in the combinations and permutations we find for practical executions.
Learning how to approach conversation as a negotiation can be a benefit. in increasingly public lives. Our digital footprint and what others experience of us are available for review.
When we talk about listening, engaging, sharing, we employ the principles of good communication. Yet the action does not stop when the conversation is over. The emotion generated before, during and after an exchange creates the momentum for what's next.
We buy, we join, and we connect on the basis of emotion. Then, as a way of justifying to ourselves and others our actions, we rationalize how we got there. This is the correct order in which events occur. See if this statement resonates with you:
Perhaps the most powerful way to soothe someone's emotions is to appreciate their concerns. There are three elements in appreciating someone. You want to understand the other's point of view; find merit in what they are thinking, feeling, or doing; and communicate the merit you see.
It's one of the many teachings Roger Fisher shared in his second book on negotiation, Beyond Reason - Using Emotion as You Negotiate, co-authored with Daniel Shapiro. His first book was the famous Getting to Yes, co-authored with William Ury.
The model Fisher and Shapiro employ as a framework can be very useful to us as we learn to negotiate the speed and frequency at which conversations come at us in the world of social media. As well, we can learn to be more effective in addressing the context in which the substance of business rests.
There are five main or core concerns to all human beings that you need to be aware of to become more effective in negotiations:
How can we understand the point of view of the other?
This means finding merit in what they feel and do and communicating our understanding through words and actions. In conversations, the tone and mood come across —are we listening for them? Yes, even in 140 characters, even when it is unintended.
Linguistic analysis shows that there are meta messages, which are the indications of whether a person is being supportive, ambivalent or resistant to the ideas being discussed.
This works in communications even when we are talking about marketing conversations. Appreciation of the context and dynamics is a good start. When we're attuned to the other and are willing to see and appreciate their point of view, you are investing your time and money.
What can we do to build structural connections as colleagues?
When we participate in social networks, we engage in many peer to peer relationship. Can we build personal connections as confidantes? Have we considered what happens when adversarial assumptions dominate our thinking?
The best way to meet a person is still face-to-face, although in some rare instances even that may not work out.
Everyone wants freedom to affect and make decisions.
One of the best compliments we received from the people we manage is that we're keen on giving them the opportunity to shape their job and work. Managers who offer as much or as little guidance as needed by the individual contributor create higher levels of engagement.
In some circumstances this desire for autonomy comes across as wanting to be a star. They are not one and the same and they should not be confused. Individuals want to be heard, to express themselves, see their vision and thinking in action. Respecting the autonomy of customers, for example, goes a long way in building relationships.
Every voice counts.
This is about acknowledging everyone's areas of particular status, including your own.
When it comes to expertise on substantive issues, it is advisable to recognize expertise. One of the most disappointing part of negotiation occur because of the inability to take this step. We cannot be all experts at everything.
Interestingly, while free agency was a way to express one's status just a few short years ago, we are now seeing the emergence of combinations —day job and a night passion. Particularly with the ability to self publish and express coming at a much lower financial cost.
Slash careers are starting to be recognized.
We can choose a fulfilling role in negotiation and select the activities that go with it.
The way to identify a fulfilling role is its clear purpose and validating if it is personally meaningful. When it incorporates our skills, interests, values, and beliefs and channels them into the task at hand. How can we make meaning of a situation?
The trap we all fall into is that we play a role in response to someone else also playing a role. Instead, a better idea is to step into a temporary role —that of the listener, arguer, problem solver, adviser, advocate, collaborator, learner, brainstormer, facilitator, guest, option generator, mentor, colleague, and so on. This calls for an expansion of our role to model the behavior we are seeking.
Assumptions about roles undermine our ability to take on a temporary position on the team.
Conversations are opportunities to both listen and learn and to be heard.
It is quite common that we find ourselves negotiating positions and encountering strong emotions in the process. The first step on the road to connection is the availability to both awareness and understanding of our self and the other person.
Where we are in the process, what we bring to the table and occasion, and what we hope to take away depend on that.