Where two people come in contact with one another, there is a potential for conflict, and anything that can be done to mitigate that conflict increases productivity. Conflict causes stress, it creates distraction, and it can bring operations to a standstill. However, it can also spark creativity and healthy competition if it’s managed right. Understanding where the line has to be drawn and keeping conflict on the right side of it is tantamount to success.
We gave you a couple of examples when we talked about why conflict and negotiation matter to an organization. The teacher’s union went into negotiations with the school board for more pay for teachers, and a bigger budget for much needed supplies. Conflict between employees and their governing board might have resulted in a teacher’s strike. But instead, negotiations were put into gear and both parties come away satisfied.
Conflict can result in the need for negotiation—or the need for negotiation can arise out of two parties’ willingness to exchange goods and services. Being able to look at the whole picture and see creative solutions beyond the zero sum game, where both parties can win, can help business (and people) flourish.
Earlier, we talked about the city government that wanted to bring new businesses into the area. The city government used negotiation skills, carefully straddling the balance between much needed tax income and tax breaks that would provide incentive for businesses to operate within their city limits. When these new businesses open their doors, more people come into the city to work. They also get their morning coffee at a city business, eat their lunch there, do their grocery shopping on the way home within the city limits. The new business takes advantage of tax breaks to increase profitability in its early years of operation, and the city benefits from additional commerce and more residents employed.
Now we understand what conflict is, where it comes from and how to manage it. We understand how the negotiation process works, including how to apply strategy and avoid pitfalls. It’s not difficult to see how these skills will benefit the organization for which you work, and make your life better, too.