Every conflict, every negotiation — even one that has been stuck for a while — has opportunity for resolution. Sometimes that opportunity is elusive, but it’s there if you know how to find and use it.
To illustrate this point, I recently told this old marketing story in a corporate conflict resolution seminar:
Two shoe salespeople were assigned to a remote region. A few days after their arrival, the company CEO received emails from each of them.
The first one read, “I’m coming home. No one here wears shoes!”
The other one read, “I’m going to need more inventory ASAP. No one here wears shoes!”
One of the workshop participants raised his hand and said, “Isn’t that just another way of saying that some of us are natural pessimists and others optimists? And if that’s true, then isn’t the opportunity in conflict just always going to be hidden from the pessimists?”
I replied that stuck negotiations and conflict can make even the world’s greatest optimists feel hopeless. So, while I won’t say attitude does’t matter, I am clear this is learnable stuff — we can learn how to consciously look for and find the hidden opportunities for resolution that lurk in every conflict and negotiation.
- Start from a place of calm and balance — you’re not at your best when your inner lizard is calling the shots.
- Get clear on what you most want to accomplish and don’t get sidetracked by going down side streets.
- Revise the conflict story that’s keeping you stuck in a reflexive loop.
- Lead with your curiosity, not your certainty.
- Help them accomplish what they want to accomplish while you also attend to your own agenda. Great negotiators know the sweet spot in conflict resolution is that magical place that achieves both.
My October conflict resolution workshop will teach you how to master all of these through the use of great questions.