Category Archives: conflict resolution

Negotiation is like a spinning coin

A spinning coin represents a successful negotiation
Spinning coin represents a successful negotiation

Negotiation is a process used often at work or at home and can be solved by spinning rather than flipping it. Flipping a coin when an agreement cannot be reached is not always an option, nor is it the preferred way to resolve an issue. Furthermore, the outcome of only one winning is not sustainable if both parties are bound to abide by the resolution. The long-term impact of a successful negotiation will increase if both sides come out feeling they have gained from the agreement.

Fortunately a coin has three sides and not two! It is the edge that connects both sides and actually allows both parties to see all interests when it is spun on its edge. The edge is usually not as ornate as the sides but its purpose is not to be showy. What does the edge of your coin represent in your particular negotiation?

Focus on the edge of the coin and spend less time wishing for heads and not wanting tails or vice versa. You will only be disillusioned and disappointed if you are hoping to be the sole winner. A sustainable negotiation has neither a winner nor a loser. Although both sides are hoping to gain something, the aim is to keep the relationship in balance to prevent the coin from falling on one side.

When a coin is spun on its edge, one has the impression that the coin is in a perpetual state of heads and tails, with no predominant side showing. The end of a successful negotiation will feel the same. A spinning coin means both sides are equally represented at all times. A spinning coin, however, requires constant attention or else it will fall to a favored side. What will it take for you and the other stakeholder to keep the coin spinning so that the outcome from the negotiation may last?

Changing Your Focus Creates New Possibilities

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 12.01.36 PMIt is not what we look at that bothers us, rather it is what we choose to focus on. The young woman has an object of interest in her sights and is now focusing more closely on a particular aspect of the subject. What she focuses on will determine the outcome of the impression she makes. Another photographer may focus on another part of the subject giving it a new perspective and new meaning.

The Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus stated that people are not disturbed by things but by the view they have of them. So is the case when leaders are confronted with organizational issues with subordinates or when a parent is working out a problem with a child. Contention arises when we neither make an attempt to focus on mutual interests nor seek to understand other perspectives.

When this occurs with organizations that service young people or in the parent/child case, the young people feel the brunt of the stalemate or battle. In the former, a worker’s strike or contemptuous attitude to spite administration or workers could adversely impact services causing quality to diminish. An organization’s mission could be compromised. In the latter case, a parent may use punishment or restrictions until the child concedes or the child may become defiant and obstinate if needs are not heard or met.

Those effective at problem-solving have a knack for looking at something from all perspectives, broadening his or her level of understanding, therefore allowing greater possibilities to find a resolution where all parties are satisfied. My upcoming book, What You Can Learn From Your Teenager: Lessons in Parenting and Personal Growth, offers parents the possibility to minimize these setbacks and negative impact on the parent/child relationship by changing how they look at their teenager. The book gives parents an opportunity to focus on all aspects of their adolescent, resulting in a more balanced and healthy relationship. And as a bonus, the parent may even learn something about themselves in the process.