Fight or Flight

By — on / Negotiation Skills

Many things factor into whether you choose “fight or flight” when faced with a difficult situation in life. Whether it is a disagreeable coworker or a border struggle between nations, the decisions made at the onset of conflict often determine the tenor of the entire proceeding.

Along with information and a good-faith desire for collaboration, knowing what you are willing to fight for and what you are willing to give up can help you choose what kind of style you want to use in approaching a negotiation. The Memphis Daily News recently published an article, “When to Fight,” from Bill Dries featuring Program on Negotiation faculty member Robert Mnookin’s visit to Rhodes College on February 7 as part of that school’s “Communities in Conversation” program. Professor Mnookin describes two types of negotiation style: collaborative and adversarial. Unlike many everyday descriptions of negotiation, negotiating is neither “haggling” nor is it a purely confrontational process.

The approach you take to a negotiation helps determine not only the outcome of the negotiation but also how the other side reacts. The choice of approach involves a mixture of intuition and situational analysis. Indeed, opportunities for collaboration and value creation emerge through the process of trading-off differences. Through the give-and-take of the process, the two sides in a dispute not only learn more about each other and each sides’ wants but also learn how to work together.

While many times you will focus on what you want out of a negotiation, the successful negotiator sees the value in collaboration and in developing that relationship early. Whether your negotiation involves a salary dispute or the conclusion of a war between neighboring states, approaching negotiation with certain methodologies that have universal application can help guarantee the success of the process for both parties involved.

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