17 mar Troubled Times – use negotiation as a tool to navigate in an unpredictable situation
My 16-year old niece is out of breath. We have been for a run and she is about to head home, but before she turns down her own street, she says that she hopes her parents have gone for a walk when she gets back, so she can be on her own for at bit in the apartment.
The Corona virus has shut down Denmark, as it has so many other countries. The streets of Copenhagen are empty, nearly everyone has been sent home, schools and public institutions closed, cinemas and restaurants shut, and families are forced to spend much more time at home, together. My niece’s comment makes me think about how this pandemic and all the restrictions it brings with it will drastically alter our lives. Not least because we have to both keep a distance from others, but also at the same time live closer together, as families are more or less isolated at home for who knows how long.
“So, this is where negotiation becomes
an even more important tool than ever!”
You may have no problem at all sharing both the work and the space at home, but chances are that established routines will be challenged. All of a sudden, we need to organize both the practical details of daily life in a different way, especially concerning household chores, looking after kids and finding the time and space to continue work in whatever capacity we are able and expected to.
The classic conversation about whose work is more urgent or important and therefore trumps all other demands such as childcare, cooking and cleaning, will take on an even more urgent note in these times of insecurity and uncertainty. Which doesn’t make it easier. So, this is where negotiation becomes an even more important tool than ever.
“The goal is to tailor-make a new daily routine to fit this unusual time in our lives,
with respect for our differences”
Different needs, common goal
We all have different ways of dealing with the Corona virus crisis, and therefore the overall message needs to be, that we must respect how others react and not try to change them, should they be more or less worried than ourselves.
Listen carefully to those around you, and try to have conversations about all the fears and negative thoughts that might dominate your thinking. And then slowly move forward and focus on, what your needs and the other’s needs are, mapping out what your new reality at work and at home demands of you and your loved ones. This will form the basis for exploring all the possible solutions you might think of, that could accommodate as many of all your needs as possible.
The goal is to tailor-make a new daily routine to fit this unusual time in our lives, with respect for our differences and an eye towards making balanced agreements where everyone feels heard and seen.
Here are some suggestions that might help you have all those conversations with those you share your daily life with:
- Stay curious. Ask each other questions that aim to find out what your worries are, what your needs might be and what is most important to you. Dig deep enough to find out, what the interests behind the other person’s requests and suggestions may be
- Expect to disagree. You will have different ideas about how to handle this crisis and what might be the best way to deal with all the challenges it presents. Try not to spend time and energy convincing the other person, that what they are thinking is wrong. Instead, the disagreement can be the kick-off to an exploration of possible solutions rather than a draining discussion about who is right
- Be creative. Spend some time looking at the problems to be solved from new angles. Take this opportunity to change what wasn’t working anyway, find new ways to share the work at home and maybe even re-think everyone’s habits and routines
- Make fair agreements. Allow for everyone involved to think about all the possible solutions to your challenges and find out, what is most important to each and everyone but also where you all might be flexible. Make sure that the new agreement reflects all of those affected by it. You won’t have it exactly your own way, but hopefully your most important needs will be met
Negotiation is a brilliant tool to help us communicate about important matters in a complex and uncertain time. Use it whenever you hit a bump in the road and get stuck in conversations with those around you, who might think, want or need different things than you do.
“Be generous towards each other
in these trying times”
Do you want to know more about using negotiation as a tool for communication at home and at work?