Archive for April, 2014

Five Steps To Better Family Negotiations

Thursday, April 24th, 2014


When a person learns how to negotiate in their work environment, those skills can carry over into their personal life. One way that conflict resolution skills can help a person outside of the office is in family negotiations. Whether with a spouse, child, parent, sibling, or a combination of family members, conversations can often be tense and frustrating. If you follow the following simple guidelines, however, and utilize your conflict resolution skills, you can improve your family negotiations.

1. Manage Expectations: When negotiating with family, it is important to keep the goals of the discussion in mind. You should enter the negotiation with a plan to come to a resolution that benefits all parties, not to try to convince everyone to agree to your terms. Begin the discussion by explaining the goals of the negotiation, and expressing your desire to come to a solution that is workable for all parties.

2. Keep Emotions in Check: It is difficult to separate emotions from a business negotiation, but it can be far more difficult during a family discussion. As complicated as it may be, you will greatly improve your chances of success if you refrain from getting angry or upset. Avoid using language that is intended to hurt someone’s feelings, and keep the conversation moving toward resolution.

3. Listen: Sometimes, members of a family need to vent their frustrations and verbalize their feelings. So long as the discussion stays on topic and no one becomes upset and/or angry, it is important to allow this process to happen. Listen to the concerns that your family members have and try to address them during the negotiation.

4. Keep an Air of Neutrality: A large part of communication between people is unspoken. When you are engaging in a negotiation with a family member or multiple members of your family, you need to maintain a neutral and a welcoming body language. If you give off a closed-off impression at the outset, your family will be less likely to actively engage in the negotiation with hopes of resolution. Along the same lines, you should try to have the discussion in a neutral setting. Avoid making a family member feel as though they are being ambushed, targeted, or pressured.

5. Stay Focused: It is crucial to try to focus on the task at hand, especially in family negotiations. With families, there can be complicated backstories and histories between parties, spanning decades. Although you will want all participants to feel as though their concerns are being heard, you need to try to keep the negotiation focused on the current situation. Don’t allow anyone to bring up unrelated past grievances, and don’t allow yourself to do so either.

The Stitt Feld Handy Group provides negotiation and conflict resolution training to people seeking to improve their abilities to advocate, negotiate, and diffuse tense situations. These skills are applicable in the boardroom and the home. For more information about improving your negotiation skills, please visit

Dealing with an Irrational Negotiator

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014