How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Go For A Walk
When things are getting tough or you have reached deadlock, go for a simple walk with the other side.
Go outside the negotiation zone. Preferably walk in the park, the countryside or other green spaces. If you are in the concrete jungle of a big city, then the streets will have to do.
Walk side by side and talk, maybe just about them and their lives. Talk about your humanity too. Listen to them and then see if they can listen to you.
When you have re-established a connection with them, bring up the subject of negotiation. Ask them what they think can be done about it. Pose possibilities.
A sales team presenting to a large company seem to be getting nowhere as the company is focusing just on price. The sales lead person suggests going for a walk in the park nearby. A few key people go out and the sales person ensures an equal balance of people from either side. They just talk about the world. Tempers cool. Some apologies are made. Feeling better about one another, they return to the negotiating table and achieve a more equitable solution.
The context of a negotiation can force a competitive or defensive attitude. If we are on my territory, for example, then I feel dominant and you may feel like an intruder who must either submit or attack. Even if the territory is neutral, then it can quickly become associated with negative or aggressive feelings.
Getting away from this context gives space to return to humanity, to pause, take breath and re-ground yourself. And also to help the other side do this too.
Walking side by side helps too. This is a position of equals. You are not facing each others as competitors. Eye contact is broken. You are shoulder-to-shoulder and may touch without giving a sense of invading their space.
It is better with pairs of people walking together as this gives an equality. When there are three, the person in the middle either has a dominant position (choosing who to speak to) or may be bombarded from those either side.