From Los Angeles to Langa, strike action is making the headlines again. In some way, we are all affected, whether it is a loss of income, being threatened or even just inconvenienced by something frivolous like not finding your favourite tonic on the shelves or not being able to finish the Netflix series you’ve been following. Strikes always have an effect – whether it is what the striking party intended or not. In my mind, to strike should always be the very last resort and never a card to play.
One assumes that when disputes and disagreements are being negotiated, both parties are keen to find a solution. They come from different perspectives, but the moment negotiation starts, compromise should be on the table. The degree to which you are willing to meet the other party is really what is up for debate. Or am I wrong? Striking might force the hand of one of the parties, but to strike shouldn’t be in the back of your mind while negotiating.
The essence here is that both parties should understand the big picture well enough to try and find a workable solution, something that is in the best interest of everyone involved. Perhaps the increase is slightly lower than the demand, but no retrenchments or a longer contract period are guaranteed. Perhaps you have to spend more on salaries than anticipated, but at least you might have bought some goodwill and have no disruption in operations.
It is of course not as easy as this and there are many factors and reasons that make negotiating much harder than agreeing on a percentage. The point I’m trying to make is that as a starting point, both parties should at least hope to find a solution. I found a dozen of negotiation principles from indeed.com that serve as a good framework for when you enter any negotiations – whether it is a family situation, around the boardroom table or when asking for a raise.
- Communication: Good communication is essential to ensure success of any kind. Verbal and non-verbal communication have to be observed and responded to avoid misunderstanding and to show interest. Avoid confusion by being clear and consistent.
- Active listening: Show interest in the process by participating rather than listening passively.
- Emotional intelligence: Like communication, EQ is an essential part of any successful interaction. It is all about the ability to see another viewpoint, to take the ego out of the process and to have perspective.
- Expectation management: This is so important; I think it should be a subject at school. Managing the expectations of those you deal with as well as your own, prevents disappointment.
- Patience: If patience doesn’t come naturally to you, practice. Losing your temper isn’t really an option.
- Adaptability: If you can’t bend, you’ll break. There’s not point to negotiation if you are set in stone. Finding creative alternatives can be the solution and you might be required to produce a new plan altogether.
- Persuasion: For some this comes naturally and for other’s being persuasive is a challenge. It takes a clever balance between being assertive and respectful.
- Planning: You need to be prepared with plans and ideas about the best possible outcome. You must do your research, know the opposition and be convinced of your own priorities.
- Integrity: Honesty is essential if you want to gain the trust and goodwill of those around the table.
- Rapport: The ability to build a rapport with co-negotiators helps to ease tension and promote collaboration. Listening, respect and insight are essential.
- Problem-solving: The ability to find creative solutions are of the essence. Out of the box thinking is required.
- Decision-making: As good as it is to have a rapport, show patience and integrity, you need to be able to make a decision. Be decisive, even when you have to compromise or walk away.
We’ve just seen a prime example of how failed negotiations and strike action can disrupt the economy and community. Perhaps if we are better at negotiating, we can prevent such damage to the economy and ourselves!