The word “safety negotiation” conjures up images of high-pressure situations, where people have a lot to lose if they get things wrong.
This article is not about the critical things in the workplace like the right to refuse unsafe work but your inner drive when you know thing are not right for some reason and cannot pin point the why, hence the NO is required!
Saying Yes is Easy
That’s the problem — we say Yes to something because it doesn’t sound like much. Saying Yes to everything means you really have time for nothing. You can’t possibly say Yes to everything, because where will you fit it all?
But the NO is critical knowledge too!
In fact, you probably negotiate several times each day. You do it at home and at work for all sorts of things, from deciding what to make for dinner, to settling on terms for a job promotion. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.
Because of this, you are a negotiator, even if you don’t think of yourself as one! But how well do you negotiate? Do you know how to recognize situations where negotiating is appropriate? And do you understand the elements of an effective negotiation?
In safety you can meet your needs without causing conflict when you do have to say “no”.
- Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is.
- Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time?
- Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word.
- Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite.
- Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made.
- Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them.
- Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment.
- It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations.
Negotiation is simply the act of reaching agreement as to how you’ll move forwards. It’s the process of communicating back and forth, and finally having all parties agree to a solution.
There are many ways to arrive at this agreement. Some people view negotiation as a game they have to win. They use “hard” negotiation tactics, and this often leaves one party very satisfied and the other side with no choice but to agree. The problem with this approach is that the relationship between the two parties is often permanently damaged. The person asking for something may receive it, but the second person probably feels taken advantage of and, perhaps, angry and resentful. If it wasn’t really a willing “yes,” the second person is unlikely to complete the work quickly, or with a positive attitude.
The opposite approach is to accommodate. This is when one party yields his or her position and original goal, simply agreeing to what the other person wants. This “soft” tactic is often the result of wanting to keep relationships friendly. The end result, however, is that this person doesn’t get what’s needed, and he or she loses control to the other person.
Negotiations that aim for mutually satisfying outcomes are often best. These are sometimes called collaborative, integrative, or principled negotiations. The techniques used to conduct these help negotiators find a solution that shows high concern for the needs of both sides. The result is a win-win solution: rather than one side giving up a “position,” the focus is on finding a new position where everyone is happy and is satisfied.
There are four parameters for principled negotiation:
1. Separate the people from the problem.
2. Focus on interests, not positions.
3. Generate a variety of possibilities before making a decision.
4. Define objective standards as the criteria for making the decision.
If you use these elements as the basis of your negotiation, you’ll be more able to find creative solutions to the problems you’re trying to solve.
Assertiveness and Negotiation
To use the principles of principled negotiation, you must be assertive. Forget the idea that negotiation means giving something up. Instead, this new process frees you to get what you need.
So, when your boss asks you to be on another committee, and you don’t really have the time, you don’t have to say “yes” or “no.” Instead, approach the situation as an opportunity to negotiate.
Whatever the situation, if you view negotiation as a collaboration, you say “yes” to the other person by respecting his or her needs – at the same time that you give yourself the opportunity to say “no” to the task itself.
When to Say “No” to the Task
Not all requests should be negotiated. Sometimes when your boss asks you to do something, you need to say “no”.
Here are some key questions to ask before saying “no” to a task:
· Do I have time to do it?
· How urgent and/or important is it?
· Am I the right person for the task?
· Is someone else best suited to the job?
· Does this request fit with my goals and objectives?
· Create an Action/Priority Matrix to determine fit.
If your answer to any of these questions is “no,” then you may be best off saying “no”. (There’s more on how to do this below!)
How to Say “Yes” to the Person but “No” to the Task
If your answer to the task request is “no,” then figure out how to say “yes” to the person at the same time. To do this, make sure that you explain your justification, so that it’s clear that you’re only saying “no” to this particular task – and possibly only on this occasion. If the other person understands why you’ve said “no”, they are less likely to be left with the impression that you’re simply being unhelpful. However, you may also have to be firm about how you say “no”.
As we’ve discussed, saying “yes to the person and no to the task” may also mean negotiating different arrangements to accommodate the request in a different way.
To say “yes” to the person, first answer three main questions:
· What does this person really need?
· Find areas of flexibility.
· Determine priorities.
· How else can this person’s need be met?
· Find a different frame of reference or approach to the problem.
· Look for time and resource alternatives.
· How can I support this person to have the need met?
· Define the larger goal.
· Look for common interests and needs.
High levels of trust and good communication are essential to this process. Although there’s no guarantee that trust will lead to a good solution, mistrust will almost certainly harm collaboration. People who don’t trust each other tend to be defensive, and this often leads people to look for ‘hidden agendas’ or withhold information.
When people trust each other, they’re more likely to communicate their needs accurately. When they share information about what they want, what they need, and why they need it, this can lead people to cooperate to look for a joint solution. And when you work in an environment of respect and trust, it’s much easier to reach agreement without compromising your needs in the process.
When you collaborate, you consider everyone’s needs. Therefore, even if you have to say “no” to something, you’re still concerned about finding a way to get the other person’s needs met, and this allows you to say “yes” to the person. Integration and collaboration are keys to this process. So, the next time you have to negotiate, look for a way to meet everyone’s needs, rather than leave one side with little or nothing.
Assertiveness is based on balance. It requires being forthright about your wants and needs while still considering the rights, needs, and wants of others. When you are assertive, you ask for what you want but you don’t necessarily get it.
Aggressive behavior is based on winning. It requires that you do what is in your own best interest without regard for the rights, needs, feelings or desires of others. When you are aggressive, you take what you want regardless, and you don’t usually ask.
Being assertive is not necessarily easy, but it is a skill that can be learned. Developing your assertiveness starts with a good understanding of who you are and a belief in the value you bring. When you have that, you have the basis of self-confidence .
Some people are naturally more assertive than others. If your disposition tends more towards being either passive or aggressive, you need to work on the following skills.
Value yourself and your rights
· Understand that your rights, thoughts, feelings, needs and desires are just as important as everyone else’s.
· But remember they are not more important than anyone else’s, either.
· Recognize your rights and protect them.
· Believe you deserve to be treated with respect and dignity at all times.
· Stop apologizing for everything.
Identify your needs and wants, and ask for them to be satisfied
· Don’t wait for someone to recognize what you need (you might wait forever!)
· Understand that to perform to your full potential, your needs must be met.
· Find ways to get your needs met without sacrificing others’ needs in the process.
Acknowledge that people are responsible for their own behavior
· Don’t make the mistake of accepting responsibility for how people react to your assertive statements (e.g. anger, resentment). You can only control yourself.
· As long as you are not violating someone else’s needs, then you have the right to say or do what you want.
Express negative thoughts and feelings in a healthy and positive manner
· Allow yourself to be angry, but always be respectful.
· Do say what’s on your mind, but do it in a way that protects the other person’s feelings.
· Control your emotions.
· Stand up for yourself and confront people who challenge you and/or your rights.
Receive criticism and compliments positively
· Accept compliments graciously.
· Allow yourself to make mistakes and ask for help.
· Accept feedback positively – be prepared to say you don’t agree but do not get defensive or angry.
Learn to say “No” when you need to
· Know your limits and what will cause you to feel taken advantage of.
· Know that you can’t do everything or please everyone and learn to be OK with that.
· Go with what is right for you.
· Suggest an alternative for a win-win solution.
· Use ‘won’t’ instead of can’t’
· Use ‘want’ instead of ‘need’
· Use ‘choose to’ instead of ‘have to’
· Use ‘could’ instead of ‘should’.
During the conversation, keep restating your message using the same language over and over again. Don’t relent. Eventually the person is likely to realize that you really mean what you are saying