Communication Skills Skilled thoughtful communication is the foundation for satisfying relationships. We teach effective, assertive communication skills along with conflict resolution and negotiation to individuals, couples and families.
PRINCIPLES AND PROCESS IN NEGOTIATION
C. Increase the Probability of a Mutually Agreeable Solution:
1. The parties are in direct communication 2. The parties have learned the basics skills of listening, and Validating 3. The parties honestly communicate both thoughts and feelings 4. There is a mutual respect of needs and feelings. 5. Neither party feels superior or more powerful. 6. Participation is voluntary, not forced. 7. The goal is a win-win outcome.
C. Mutually generate options & resolutions
1. Brainstorm solutions (while withholding evaluation/judgment). 2. Discuss each parties feelings about alternatives. 3. Make selection which maximizes positive feelings and minimizes negative feelings. 2.Be positive- express in terms of doing rather than not doing 3.See hear feel – use sensory data 4.Dovetail your desires and needs with others 5.Entertain short and long term objectives
D. Resist inclination to focus only on behavior and neglect the feelings behind the behavior.
E. Seek to create solutions that are mutually acceptable to everyone envolved Win/Win solutions. Successful solutions maximize areas of agreement, reflect an understanding, respect and acknowlegement needs, wants and desires for all parties. Solutions in which one party feels disrespected or unheard and have lost will not really buy into the solution and will breed resntmant and passive aggressive responses. Conflict positions and results 1. you lose/I lose lose /lose 2. you win/ I lose win/lose 3. You lose/ I win lose/win 4. you win/ I win Win/Win
Problem solving strategies 1. state the problem 2. Outline your response 3. List your alternative 4. View the consequnces 5. Evaluate your reslults
Situation Response Who Where do I do it? What Happened When do I do it? Where it happened How do I do it? How it happened How do I feel? Why it happened What I want?
Reclassify the problem 1. the real problem is not….. 2. The real problem is…
Who, where , what ‘s done that bothered you. When you respond, how why it happened
Super questions 1. What 2. How 3. What would happen if
Four words to unblock Conflict “ What do you want?
Key points: 1.Conflict can be a positive force. 2. Problems are solvable. 2. Possibilities and challenges are more fun than problems 3. Most situation present more than two possible solutions 4. Action planning is a way to manage conflict 5. Anyone can learn to be creative and think of new possibilities 6. Dovetailing leads to winning solutions
Principles and Process in Negotiation “I want to go to the mountains this summer—I love the cool forest shade and clean sparkling streams…… “I want to go to the beach—I love the bright sun and hot sand….” Conflicts of this kind are inevitable in any relationship. How do you handle them? How does it work out? Many couples see only three alternatives: 1. I win—you lose. We go to the mountains. 2. You win—I lose. We go to the beach. 3. We both lose—we don’t go anywhere. Actually, if you win, you probably lose anyway. If your partner goes along with you sulking, dissatisfied, or resentful, it will not work out very well for you. So if either loses, you both lose. Losers tend to store up resentments after a while. One of you may seem willing to give in over a period of time to make the relationship work, but such martyrdom tends to reach a saturation point and after a while the pendulum often swings to the other extreme, threatening the relationship itself. Both Can Win Through Negotiating Another possibility is much more satisfying in the long run: both win! There is a way for both of you to get most of what you want most of the time. This process is called “negotiating.” Principles of Negotiation Negotiating means both giving and both getting on a quid pro quo basis. Effective negotiating requires both of you to get in touch with what you want, sorting out what you want most and what you are most willing to yield and going to the bargaining table. Negotiating includes the following steps: 1. Clarifying the issue. 2. Making a proposal. 3. Modifying or offering counterproposals. 4. Accepting and celebrating. 1) Being prepared Before people can even begin the process of negotiation, they must first be committed to a fair process. In preparation for being fair the parties must be ready to: • Listen. • Reach a mutually satisfying resolution. • Hear things they disagree with or find painful without reacting abusively or defensively. • Accept that something will change. 2) Setting some rules Begin by reviewing these rules and adding any that you mutually decide are important. • No yelling. • Don’t bring up unrelated issues. • No threats or intimidation. • No mind games. • Is a time limit needed for this discussion? • Is a third party needed to help with this discussion? 3) Defining the problem What are we negotiating? Is this negotiable? 5. How does each person experience and define the problem. (This will be different for each person.) • Who else is affected and how? 4) Identifying goals • Short-term: Name the things that need to be included in an immediate solution. • Long-term: Name the things that need to be included in a final solution. 5) Finding solutions What would each person propose as an immediate and long-term solution that addresses the things each person has said needs to be considered. • Is compromise necessary or can both parties be enhanced? If compromise is necessary, list several fair solutions
STEP 1: Define the Problem In Terms of Needs (Not Competing Solutions) 1. Clarifying the Issue When you have identified a conflict and both of you are ready to talk about it, the first step is to clarify what each wants. Each takes a turn telling what you want and what is most important to you. Ask each other questions of clarification when necessary. Then one of you makes a summary statement describing what both of you want, asking at the end: “Is that the way you see it?” The other agrees with the summary or clarifies it further again asking: “Is that the way you see it?” This continues until both agree on a summary of what each wants. For example, a summary statement might go something like this: “You want to go to the mountains this summer. You feel very strong about not going to the beach. You would rather go nowhere than go the beach. I would prefer going to the beach, but I would be willing to consider going to the mountains. Is that the way you see it?”
State the problem in a way that does not communicate blame or judgment. Giving “I messages” is the most effective way for stating a problem. For example, “When you do or did … I feel or felt….” Then, try to verbalize the other person’s view of the conflict. If you don’t know his or her view, ask him or her to state it.
It may take time to define the problem or conflict accurately, and each person may need time to express feelings, including anger or defensiveness. This is the time to use Active Listening and empathic response i.e. repeating or paraphrasing back to the speaker what you heard him or her say. Both persons must have a chance to express their feelings in order to be ready for the remaining steps in the problem solving process. Don’t be in a hurry to get to Step 2. Instead, be sure you understand the other’s point of view, and that you state yours accurately and congruently. If you want to motivate the other person to enter into problem solving with you, express your own feelings fully and completely.
Frequently, as a problem is discussed, it will be redefined. Either the initial statement of the problem will be superficial, or the other person’s statement of his feelings may cause you to see the problem in a new light. Before moving to Step 2, be sure both of you accept the definition of the problem. Restate your understanding of the problem and ask the other person if he or she accepts your definition. Are both sets of needs accurately stated? Lastly, make certain he or she is clear that you both are looking for a solution that will meet both of your set of needs so that neither of you has to lose.
STEP 2: Generate Possible Solutions (Not Evaluations) 2. Making a Proposal When the issue is clear, you are ready for a proposal. A proposal is a tentative solution intended to give both partners as much as possible of what is wanted. No losers. A proposal is often expressed as quid pro quo, that is, you offer to give something in return for your partner’s giving. The wording is usually: “I would be willing to . . . if you would be willing to . . . . ” A proposal must not be offered as an ultimatum or even as the best solution available. Offering a proposal is simply a way to begin the negotiations. Getting overly invested in your proposal often leads to a hassle and undermines the quid pro quo process. The person offering the proposal must be willing and ready to consider modifications or counterproposals. A proposal might go something like this: “I’d be willing to go to the mountains with you for a part of our vacation if you would be willing to use the money we save to buy a small sailboat I’ve been wanting. This would also leave some vacation time for sailing. Would you be willing to go along with that?”
Discovering good solutions often takes time. Initial solutions are seldom adequate, but can stimulate ideas for better ones. Ask your partner if he or she has any possible solutions (you’ll have plenty of time to offer yours). At all costs, avoid being evaluative and critical of the solutions he or she offers. Use Active Listening. Treat his or her ideas with respect. Before evaluating or discussing any particular solution, generate many possible ideas. Remember, you are trying to arrive at the best solution, not just any one. If things bog down, state the problem again to re-start the process. The necessity of moving to Step 3 will become apparent when you have generated a number of feasible solutions or when one solution appears to be far superior to the others.
STEP 3: Evaluate and Test Various Solutions
In this stage, you both must be honest, do a great deal of critical thinking, and use Active Listening. Are there flaws in any of the possible solutions? Is there any reason why a solution might not work? Will a solution be too hard to implement? Is it fair to both? When evaluating solutions, a brand new one, better than any of the others, may appear. A previous one may also be improved by some suggested modification. Failure to test solutions at this stage of the process will increase the chance of ending up with a poor one, (or one that will not be carried out earnestly). 3. Modifications and Counterproposals After a proposal has been offered, the other now considers the proposal and makes a response. Only three responses are allowed. 1. Acceptance of the proposal 2. Modification of the proposal 3. A counterproposal. If the proposal is accepted, the negotiation is over. If the proposal seems promising but not altogether acceptable, you can offer modifications to your satisfaction. If the proposal is not acceptable or promising, you can offer an altogether different proposal—a counterproposal. If you modify or offer a counterproposal, your partner will again respond in any of these same three ways. This process continues until you have arrived at a proposal acceptable to both. An example of responding by modifying the proposal might go: “That sounds ok to me, but I’m not willing to spend less than one full week in the mountains. It takes me that long to unwind and relax. Will that work out for you and provide enough money for the sailboat?” A further modifying response might go: “I think we can spend a full week in the mountains and still have money to buy a boat—especially if we stayed in a house-keeping cabin and fix some of our own meals instead of eating out all of the time. Would you be willing to do that?” 3. Modifications and Counterproposals After a proposal has been offered, the other now considers the proposal and makes a response. Only three responses are allowed. 1. Acceptance of the proposal 2. Modification of the proposal 3. A counterproposal. If the proposal is accepted, the negotiation is over. If the proposal seems promising but not altogether acceptable, you can offer modifications to your satisfaction. If the proposal is not acceptable or promising, you can offer an altogether different proposal—a counterproposal. If you modify or offer a counterproposal, your partner will again respond in any of these same three ways. This process continues until you have arrived at a proposal acceptable to both. An example of responding by modifying the proposal might go: “That sounds ok to me, but I’m not willing to spend less than one full week in the mountains. It takes me that long to unwind and relax. Will that work out for you and provide enough money for the sailboat?” A further modifying response might go: “I think we can spend a full week in the mountains and still have money to buy a boat—especially if we stayed in a house-keeping cabin and fix some of our own meals instead of eating out all of the time. Would you be willing to do that?”
STEP 4: Decide on a Mutually Acceptable Solution
A mutual commitment to one solution must be made. When all the facts are presented, one clearly superior solution stands out. Don’t make the mistake of trying to persuade or push a solution on another person. If he or she doesn’t freely choose a solution, chances are he or she will not carry it out. When it appears that you are close to a decision, re-state the solution to make certain you both understand it. Writing it down may also be necessary to avoid later misunderstandings.
STEP 5: Implement the Solution
It is, of course, one thing to arrive at a creative solution and quite another to carry it out. Immediately after a solution has been agreed upon, talk about implementation. WHO does WHAT by WHEN? The most constructive attitude to have during this discussion is complete trust. At this juncture, it is unwise to talk about penalties for either person failing to faithfully carry out his or her part of the decision in the future. However, if either person fails to carry out the agreement later, they can be confronted with “I messages,” and possible suggestions for remembering to carry it out. Don’t fall into the trap of reminding the other to carry out his or her tasks. That person will grow dependent upon your reminders, rather than assuming full responsibility for his or her own behavior. Persons unaccustomed to this method of problem solving may, at first, be lax in carrying out the solution. Be prepared to do a lot of confronting until they understand that you are not going to permit them to “get by,” and don’t delay in confronting them.
STEP 6: Evaluate the Effectiveness of the Solution
Not all solutions turn out to be the best. Sometimes in implementing a solution, you or your partner will discover its weaknesses and will therefore need to return to the problem-solving process. It is important to ask your partner how he or she feels about the solution. You should both understand that decisions are always open for revision, but that neither of you can unilaterally modify them. Modifications, like the initial decision, have to be mutually accepted and agreed on. Persons new to the process of mutual decision-making may, in their enthusiasm, discover that they have over-committed themselves, i.e. agreed to do too much or the impossible. Be sure to keep the door open for revision. 4. Acceptance and Celebration Negotiating usually means giving up some of your lesser wants in order to get what you want more, or giving up or postponing some things in orti to get something else. In the end if the negotiations are successful, you both win by getting something you really want So when you arrive at a solution you are both willing to accept, it is time for a celebration. Celebrations—as well as relationships in general—work best when you focus on what you’re getting and not on what you are giving up. Accepting and celebrating might sound something like this “So we are going to the mountains this summer. That’s something I really want. Even though it’s not your first choice, I hope you will be able to enjoy it, too.” “And I get to buy that sailboat I’ve been dreaming of. I think you might enjoy it too. We’ll have almost a week of vacation left for sailing. How about eating out tonight to celebrate?” Of course all negotiations do not go as smoothly and easily as this example. Some people have difficulty resolving differences because they don’t really know what they want or how to ask for it. It’s hard for them to give and take in negotiations, and some people don’t allow themselves to be satisfied with negotiated solutions. But if you are willing to learn to do it, negotiating differences is extraordinarily helpful to any relationship—and especially to marriages. This session is designed to give you practice in negotiating so that you both can win.
REMEMBER: Your best tools for effective problem solving will always be: ● ACTIVE LISTENING ● CLEAR AND HONEST COMMUNICATION ● RESPECT FOR THE NEEDS OF OTHERS ● TRUST ● OPENNESS TO NEW DATA ● PERSISTENCE ● COMMITMENT TO A RESOLUTION ● REFUSAL TO REVERT TO UNSUCCESSFUL STRATEGIES
KEY POINTS: 1. Never introduce a problem solving session by focusing on what someone hasn’t done that has been unilaterally decided as an agreement. Example: Child not carrying out the trash when parents had previously decided he was required to do so. It is far better to open up the whole question of chores for resolution by all parties involved. 2. Don’t try to problem-solve a complex problem when you have too little time. Set a time in the future convenient to you and the other person (s). 3. Don’t introduce a problem-solving session by presenting issues that are only problems for you. Open up the agenda for problems suggested by other person (s) as well. 4. Introduce this method of problem solving by first explaining what the method is and how it is different from other ineffective strategies. 5. Include in each problem solving session only those persons involved in the problem. 6. Don’t initiate problem solving with a preconceived or fixed solution. 7. Don’t rely on traditional or stereotyped solutions, but rather solutions suitable to each unique relationship.
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