We are so pleased this week to be joined by our friend Alison Fragale, a research psychologist and an award-winning professor at the University of North Carolina’s world-renowned business school. Alison brings her deep academic expertise to leaders and organizations who are looking to enhance their well-being, efficiency, and effectiveness. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge of how humans think, feels, and acts to help professionals tackle their biggest challenge — understanding and managing the people around them.

Her interest in negotiation began early in her career as a consultant for McKinsey and Company where she had to influence change in people without any formal authority or influence. It was then that she reframed the idea of the word. For many of us, initial reactions to the word ‘negotiation’ induce images of adversaries or competition. In fact, we negotiate all the time in our relationships with everyone, both at work and at home. Any time we are looking to share information, understand the interests of all parties, and influence behavior, we are negotiating.

Alison made the point that today more than ever leaders need negotiation skills and techniques. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are negotiating with vendors (whom we may be struggling to pay), customers (who may be struggling to pay us), landlords, employees, and other stakeholders as we try to chart a course through these unknown waters.

A Framework for Effective Negotiation

Alison introduced a framework for negotiating that begins with two universal truths, namely (1) it’s imperative in all negotiations that you find out what others want or need and try to provide that, and (2) that you have a plan.

From there, her model suggests three key elements. The first involves managing your own mindset by managing your (and the other parties) emotion and anxiety, being clear about objectives, understanding the psychology of loss, and focusing on mutual gains (also known as WIN: WIN negotiations).

The second elements look at how the communication will occur. Alison encourages, if possible, face-to-face communication, or in these times at least video calls that allow some non-verbal queues to be picked up.

The third element of the framework is strategy. This involves several behaviors for techniques to build trust, understanding, and mutually beneficial outcomes.

You can watch the entire episode below. Further, you can see a summary of the workshop Alison delivered when she was here in western Canada with us last fall teaching us about ways to enhance team performance. It’s no surprise that there is overlap between these topics, especially in the area of fundamental human communication.

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