What are Crisis Negotiations?
Crisis negotiations usually involve high stakes, heightened emotions, and multiple parties and teams.
In crisis negotiations that are fraught with mistrust and disputed facts, it can sometimes be difficult to see how a satisfactory agreement will ever be possible. However, good leaders can carve out a space in which to lay the foundation for mutual points of agreement, strengthening the relationships necessary for ensuring lasting success. Success often depends on small gestures, but they can pay off well in the long term.
It’s important, as well, to recall that several features endemic to crisis negotiations can make dealmaking particularly challenging to those involved:
1. Exhaustion. As a crisis negotiator, you may feel you aren’t doing your job if you don’t work around the clock. But foregoing sleep is likely to exacerbate an already dire situation.
2. Time pressure. Time pressures, such as a financial or environmental disaster that is worsening by the day, are also likely to take a toll on crisis negotiators. It’s understandable that negotiators will want to resolve a crisis as quickly as possible. But in their haste, they may actually exacerbate the situation.
3. Stress. The stress inherent in typical crisis negotiations tends to exacerbate conflict between parties, as each looks for reasons to deflect the other party for what has gone wrong.
Of course, the best way to solve a crisis is to keep it from escalating in the first place. Through a rapid, centralized response, an organization can shift swiftly and efficiently from day-to-day operations into crisis-management mode, whether that crisis involves a building evacuation, a tumble in the company’s stock price, or a product recall.
To find out more, download your free copy of our report, Business Crisis Management: Crisis Communication Examples and How to Use Police Negotiation Techniques, from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.
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