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A Pearl on Negotiating Effectively, When Someone Has to Give...

Uncategorized May 12, 2021

Sometimes, we can't always have a situation where both parties at the negotiation table win.  Sometimes, someone is going to have to give up and wait. Maybe, it's not permanent and maybe it is.  We've seen that with the pandemic, especially in the beginning.  Doctors and nurses were in a panic when there was a lack of safety gear to protect themselves from both potential and documented COVID patients during a time of uncertainty and fear.  There were a lot of angry healthcare workers, and many felt the leadership did not care.  There were many descriptive, heated social media posts and angry people protesting on TV and radio.

However, there were also healthcare organizations, hospitals and offices where the healthcare workers appeared calm, cool and collective.  They seemed to be doing fine even thought, they, too, were limited in supplies.  Some found ways to reuse masks, often filming themselves on how to clean the N95 masks at home to be reused for the next day.  How did they stay calm and become resilient during that time?

There were ongoing heated discussions between physicians and administrators about what to do to improve their situation during the pandemic.  Watching some of the arguments made me cringe and tear as I saw the cries, yelling and fights.  Other discussions, however, seemed oddly calm and neutral, as if everyone was on Valium and doing their daily meditation and yoga.

Where was the difference?

The negotiation techniques between the leaders and the employees were different.

Sometimes, no matter how much you scream and cry and beg, you can't get what you want.  Sometimes, you have to let it go and wait and be patient.

Doctors and nurses and other healthcare workers were begging for their safety, and rightfully so.  

How administrators handled the negotiations, or handled the communication in response to the demands made all of the difference.

The key to GREAT negotiation skills is to learn THREE things:

1. What are the needs of the person making the demands and why?  Sometimes the "why" is not so apparent and just asking the right questions uncovers the "why," making negotiations so much easier.

2. What can be given and what cannot be?  What will come and what will never come? What can be offered now and what future possibilities are there?

3. Deliver the news in a compassionate, empathetic way to show the person that you understand what they need and why. Reiterate these points are crucial so they see you understand.  Then, when something cannot be given (or can be given later), express the best alternatives or the potential gains, and be transparent about the possibilities. Explain that you are working hard to help the situation improve as soon as possible, and, most importantly, provide continuous updates on a routine, timely basis (weekly, daily, hourly).  

We had a group of physicians angry because they weren't getting the larger space to practice they needed from their boss.  The treatment area and recovery area were cramped.  The shared space was unkempt and dangerous.  They were exasperated, and their anger and resentment grew over the months.  It wasn't until the leadership stepped up and started communicating on a routine basis their mutual concern and understanding and provided regular updates on the future plans (obstacles and issues included), that everything changed.  The physicians felt heard, they saw their leaders understanding their situation, and working hard on behalf of trying to make it better. There was calmness in the air. People spoke with more curiosity and gave ideas to help the situation change.  It was night and day.

Even if you can't come to an agreement that allows mutual win, you can "win" as a negotiator just through your communication skills using emotional intelligence.  This is a pearl on being a GREAT negotiator.

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