Overcoming Barriers to Negotiations

When embarking on a hike in the woods don't expect it to be a walk in the park. Anticipating challenges and obstacles is the best insurance to winning a negotiation. Barriers to a settlement are the reasons negotiating is necessary in human interaction. Without them life really would be walk in the park!

It is not if, but where, barriers exist. I say where rather than when. If you view the negotiation process as a journey, you will find your path littered with obstacles challenging your progress. Seeking each out and resolving them is the only way to make it to the end of your journey.

Understanding that they exist is the first step. Uncovering them is the second. Resolving them is the third.

To better understand where the another person is coming from in a negotiation, take time to get to learn about the person. Visit his or her office. Get a feel for the person's personal life including family, interests and hobbies. Talk with mutual friends. In short, learn what you can before settling into the actual negotiation. Football coaches video the competition and then review the tapes with their players to identify and anticipate likely offensive and defensive barriers they will face. Negotiations should be no different. It is an adversarial sport.

When you are stymied by a barrier, find a way around it. If it is a personal prejudice, you may want to call in a co-negotiator to counter-act the image you represent. If it is a technical matter, you may want to enlist the help of an expert. Your role as a negotiator or mediator is to identify and resolve barriers.

In family situations the barrier can be generational. A father often filters the statements of his thirty-something son as though he was still an adolescent. And the son still looks at his father as a stern, judging parent. Changing this engrained perception is difficult because both are relying on years of first hand observation.

Barriers are the crux of human interaction. Rather than trying to avoid them, embrace them as natural challenges to be overcome. A positive attitude toward resolution is ninety percent of the battle.