TEN WAYS TO GET PAST NO
IMPASSE: This is what happens when you and another person are deadlocked and unable to reach an agreement. Having a neutral third party mediate is better than going it alone. But what if it’s just you and the other guy (or gal?) in a dispute, and neither of you will give?
Here are some ways to resolve a dispute — or at least minimize differences — between you and the other person:
1. Take a break. Breathe. Whether it’s ten minutes, ten hours, or ten days — however long it takes to cool down tensions between you and the other party.
2. Listen to understand, not to refute. Trying on the other’s glasses to see his/her perspective is fundamental to discovering a path to agreement.
3. Let the other save face. Don’t try to force the other to admit they’re wrong. You may both be right AND wrong! Say, “I may be wrong, but here’s how I see it.” Another way: Sometimes offering to keep a discussion confidential is enough to move forward.
4. Is an apology needed? Or its flip side, forgiveness? This takes courage but is a magic key to reconciliation.
5. New information may unfreeze a stalemate. Say, you and a parent are deadlocked over whether he or she should continue driving. Learning that a local organization provides free rides may diminish or even evaporate resistance.
6. Reality Check. If two siblings are at odds over the value of a car, or the family home, or an heirloom, get an appraisal. Learning the facts may cool down passions or righteousness. Before an issue boils over, call in a neutral expert.
7. Discuss the possible downsides of not reaching agreement. Will you end up in litigation with its costs, stress, delay, and irrevocable bad feelings?
8. Stop. Return to the beginning. Review the areas where you do agree. Look for commonalities. Express appreciation for the other. Then see whether those areas of agreement open new paths to resolution.
9. Brainstorm. Take a moment to fire away with as many options for settlement as you can. The key to successful brainstorming is NOT to critique each other’s suggestions until each has exhausted their storehouse of possibilities. Then try to come up with the best two or three and work down from there.
10. Collaborate. The most important technique of all: Shift your goal from winning to finding an answer together that meets everyone’s needs.
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