When negotiating, what is the best way to handle conflicts? When one party is under an impression that they feel is contrary to their best interest, how do you maintain the relationship and the good will between the two of you? Depending upon the situation, you could be in for a tough time.

I recently found myself in a situation that put my skills to the test. I was accused by a business partner of neglecting a business situation. In one situation, he thought a client situation had not been addressed to his liking. We had a discussion over the phone about how the situation came to be and who allowed it to get out of hand. Since both of us have very hectic schedules and travel a lot, we knew a face to face meeting could not be had. That in itself was a potential problem. On the phone, we surmised how the situation came about and then I sought documentation to prove my point.

In the course of the conversation, I found myself getting extremely irritated with this individual, because I knew I had acted honorably and with the utmost intention of delivering the quality of service that I always strive to deliver. Feedback from the client indicated that I had exceeded their expectations. Needless to say, by the time the phone conversation concluded with my associate, I knew our relationship was in serious disrepair. I told the other individual, I would seek the documentation outlining our original agreement and forward the information to him as soon as I located it. I found the documentation and did as I had indicated. Funny thing, time passed, I received a notification that the other party received the information, but I did not get a response from him. I thought, now what? I let more time pass and decided my associate would contact me after he had time to digest the information I sent.

Whenever conflicts arise in a negotiation session, understand what brought the conflicts to that point. Seek the understanding of the person you are speaking/negotiating with to obtain their understanding of the situation. (That sounds easy when you are not in the proverbial heat of the battle; speaking of the heat of battle, try not to become emotional.) If the conflict is serious enough, meet face to face. When you meet in person, sincerity, genuineness, and a desire to truly work things out can be conveyed in a manner that cannot be projected over the phone. Last but not least, if you can afford it, let time serve as a buffer to soften the harshness of the phone conversation and revisit the situation when egos and emotions are under tighter scrutiny.

Greg Williams - The Master Negotiator



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