Friday, 16 November 2007

Negotiating

There is a lot of fighting. And I use a lot of negotiating strategies. At the moment the negotiating groundrules I'm trying to apply broadly are: Don't push people into defensive positions (She did it!); Don't ascribe motives (She did it because she wants to upset me!); Don't use absolutes (She did it! She always wants to upset me!).

If I get so far as to remind my miniature actors about these rules, then I try and say the positive, too: Be patient and listen so everyone can say how they feel and the impact that someone else's behaviour can have. Offer suggestions for how to proceed. Suggest options for what to do next. Try and find common ground, so that everyone gets what they want. Suggest a new way of doing something or new code of conduct that everyone can agree with. If shouting starts, then stop talking and come back to it later when everyone is calm.

Is it working? A bit. One danger is that we spend all our day in the negotiating. Take today. We're going to the library. What books shall we take back? What shall we renew? What books shall we borrow? Which library card should we use? Who's carrying the books? What bag shall we take? ...and we never actually get to the library to take back the overdue books.

Sometimes I think why don't I provoke a big shout and scream, then I can lay the law down, leave everyone in tears behind me, and go to the library alone. And there I can put my feet up behind the natural history, and have a quiet read.

2 comments:

Jan said...

I sometimes think I spend all day helping them learn about negotiating, and not actually educating them. Then I think about how much time in the workplace you need to know about Napoleon or long division, and how much time you need to know about interpersonal skills, and I guess I'm doing OK, and I'm sure you are too.

grit said...

you are right jan! while i might be dismayed about the long division, i'm sometimes impressed by their interpersonal skills! thank you!