One of the key life skills to acquire is the art of negotiation. I am much better at interacting with people on all levels of my life since I learnt the basic art of negotiation. I am not saying that I am a fully fledged negotiator but I am getting there slowly, and who taught me this life skill? My children!! It is a steep learning curve when faced with an individual with limited vocal communication skills, due to their own degree of personal development, who can only identify their needs through body language and either how the volume or the pitch of their shouting. Actually that sounds quite familiar in some business situations I have been in!
When individuals lack the life skill of being able to calmly vocalise their feelings, or point of view they will quickly switch to secondary means of communication. Some individuals miss out the first step altogether and go straight to expressing themselves emotionally. These issues impact on management’s effectiveness, and we must consider them when having to facilitate or negotiate with, or within, operational teams. When negotiating with(in) teams and with individuals we have to understand the visual signs that tell us how people feel towards either each other or the information that is being presented, including changes in the:
Pitch, speed or volume of their voice,
Eye contact - who are people looking at, who looks down when certain people speak, this will help you to identify the level of agreement and disagreement within the meeting/team
Nodding and smiling – who smiles and nods in compliance with some views and sits stony faced when others are talking.
Hand gestures – banging a fist on the table is an obvious sign but are all the people expressing open hand gestures or is there the overall impression that everyone in the meeting either has their fists clenched or their arms firmly folded. Do hand gestures change when different people speak?
If you are the manager, team leader, or facilitator it is important to constantly consider these cues during a meeting. An effective manager will identify where they are in terms of the five point plan, see below. Effective negotiation management is about continually rating where you are on the scale – if the meeting starts to go to a 3 rating you need to take action to reduce down to a 2 or below. If the meeting gets to a 4 you need to take immediate action before the meeting gets out of control, even if it is to announce a five minute coffee break to reduce the tension. Do you have this life skill, if not what steps are you going to take to acquire it?
Five point plan
The five point plan is basically how would you rate the meeting at this moment in time (1 = In control meeting, going totally as planned, 2 = in control, some side debate, but on track, 3 = in control, but increased side debate and some individuals starting to exhibit emotional behaviour, 4 = starting to lose control, people starting to talk over each other and meetings objectives are in danger of not being achieved. 5 = everyone’s lost the plot and the meeting objectives are effectively abandoned.