Malene Rix—Negotiation as an everyday tool

Malene Rix—Negotiation as an everyday tool

Malene Rix, Executive advisor and trainer in negotiation and process facilitation.

Most people associate the word ’negotiation’ with business deals and contracts, political lobbying or with the complicated processes of resolving conflict. We picture rooms full of people sitting around a shiny table, representing different interests and demands, working hard to reach some kind of agreement.


However, negotiation also takes place in numerous everyday and informal situations, but we often do not even discover that we have been part of one of these dialogues, mainly because they went so well and we did not even notice how we managed to reconcile our differences.

This reaction has to do with the very anatomy of negotiation: it is a process, where two or more parties, with different demands and interests, need each other to reach a result.

When I ask people how they feel about negotiating, quite a few look slightly uncomfortable and describe negotiation as something difficult but inevitable in their working lives. This reaction has to do with the very anatomy of negotiation: it is a process, where two or more parties, with different demands and interests, need each other to reach a result. What most of us register in this type of communication is the adversarial nature of the process: we disagree with someone, but we can’t simply turn around and walk away – we need them in order to move forward. The more serious the disagreement, the harder it is to stay clear of the many pitfalls of bitter arguments, threats or simply giving up.

It is absolutely vital to keep the process collaborative and using constructive negotiation skills to make sure that the parties involved are happy with the result. If communication has been respectful and engaging, and if the negotiators feel their demands and interests have been met in a balance of giving and getting something, then they will view the result in a more favourable light, than if the process was full of tricks, threats and strong-arm tactics. Negotiation training is all about the ’how’, it is about the whole process from thinking about what to ask for, preparing the meeting and influencing your counterparts but also about how to keep the meeting on course in spite of differences and disagreement.

What most people tend to miss is that the tools for analyzing, planning and carrying out the process can also be used in a vast range of less formal situations, which are, in fact, also negotiations. Every time we find ourselves needing to find a way forward with someone we actually disagree with – then we have a negotiation. This happens many, many times a day for all of us; at home with our families and friends, deciding who does what at home or where to meet and what to do.

Every time we find ourselves needing to find a way forward with someone we actually disagree with – then we have a negotiation.
At work, with colleagues and bosses, with clients and stakeholders in situations, where there has been no formal invitation to negotiate. A lot of meetings are called with the purpose of finding out what to do from here? Which way to go? What idea is the best? It may be that someone has formal decision power at the meeting, but even so, this type of meeting purpose could very well be facilitated as a negotiation. Making sure that all participants have the possibility to contribute with their input and interests, keeping conversation respectful and focusing more on reaching a result than on who is right, and who is wrong – all of these techniques will make a lot of informal negotiations much more effective.
 
The trick is to discover all these golden opportunities for negotiating and deciding to use a collaborative communication style, saving yourself and others both a lot of time and a great deal of trouble.

Malene Rix

Executive advisor and trainer in negotiation and process facilitation, Malene Rix was born in 1965. For more than fifteen years, Malene Rix has worked in the field of negotiation and process facilitation, designing training sessions and advising a wide range of clients in both the private and the public sector in Denmark and internationally. Malene Rix owns her own consultancy business and among her clients are the Danish Ministry of Justice, the EU Commission and the European Parliament, the Nordic Council of Ministers, Novo Nordisk, Nordea, FL Smidth, IMEX and several Danish universities.
 
Malene Rix has written the book ‘Women Negotiating – in the workplace and at home’.

 
For more information about Malene Rix, please visit the official website: www.malenerix.dk.


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