Q: Isn’t this blog’s content all a bit complicated for everyday conflicts?
A: Almost anything that helps you prepare for a conflict systematically helps conflict outcomes and reduces conflict stress
Q: What if the other side refuses to use a systematic approach
A: While it is better to have both sides agree to use a systematic approach, it is still useful for you to use this approach just for your own preparation and conflict handling, and it can help you steer the other side into more productive responses
Q: What if the conflict becomes very emotional and quite threatening?
A: Adjourn: suggest both sides step back and have some time away from each other. Suggest you meet back in half an hour, a day or whatever time frame seems reasonable. This is better than walking out, though the latter may sometimes be unavoidable.
Q. If negotiations have broken down and one side has walked out, how do you know when to reach out to resume discussions
A: When emotions are likely to have calmed down. You might assess if you are now calm and judge if it is likely the other side is calm.
Q: What if the other side lies?
A: There is an important distinction between when the other side is deluding itself and when it is deliberately saying something that it knows to be untrue. But in either case, it may be better to ask for their evidence: ‘what makes you say that?’ than bluntly tell them: ‘you are lying’.
Q: What if the other side uses ‘dirty tricks’ such as threats or aggressive hard ball bargaining tactics?
A: Keep turning them back to ‘what interest are you trying to achieve?’. And also ask yourself if these tactics are a sign of weakness, of bluster?
Q: How do you negotiate with people with very strong (and in your view perhaps deluded) beliefs?
A: Keep trying to find out their interests. After all America managed to avoid a nuclear war with Russia for over forty years, despite their dramatic differences of ideology. Or you might ask them: ‘what data would change your mind?’
Q: What if they just keep asserting their demands/positions.
A: Keep asking them ‘why’: ‘why do you want that? What is your underlying interest?’
Q: What if the other side just won’t listen?
A: Start questioning them very closely on their arguments/positions /interests/view of the world and role model good listening. ‘Is this what you mean….’ Slowly it may dawn on them to find out more about you and your interests. Or simply ask them: ‘I am pretty clear on your side of this case, would you like to hear my side?’
Q: When should I break off negotiations?
A: When they are going nowhere and/or what you can achieve without negotiation is better than you are likely to get by negotiations.