Do you consider yourself a skilled negotiator in work and life? Whether you realise it or not, every day requires negotiation across different roles and contexts. James Cook University’s Judith Rafferty is here to bust some myths and share how we can all improve the way we navigate negotiations.
“Everyone needs to negotiate sometimes, whether at work or at home. Not everyone, however, is naturally good at it and many of us can benefit from learning about good negotiation practice,” says JCU’s Judith Rafferty. Judith is a Senior Lecturer in the Conflict Management and Resolution (CMR) program at JCU and says that negotiation is a skill that can be learned and developed.
While we often negotiate in our personal and professional lives — whether buying or selling a car, reaching a workplace agreement, or even discussing with your child how many vegetables they will eat — there are many preconceived ideas about what actually makes a good negotiator.
“I would say that many of these ideas reflect negotiation myths rather than good negotiation practice,” Judith says.
“For example, people commonly believe that good negotiators need to leave their emotions outside the room and must be rational at all times. But this is no longer supported by contemporary research in neuroscience and negotiation studies.
“A growing body of research shows that cognition and emotions are not separate processes but are closely interlinked. It’s all about how we can master our emotions and use them effectively during negotiations and decision-making processes.”
Judith says another myth is thinking about negotiation in terms of how to maximise one’s own gains at the expense of the other party.
“Whatever we want to achieve, we need to consider how this might impact our relationship with the other party in the future. We are often negotiating with people who we will have to engage with in the long-term. This could be a divorced spouse, children, or people in the workplace.
“So, we need to factor in the other person and their needs when it comes to negotiating possible outcomes. Ideally, we would try to collaborate and enlarge the pie to create win-win situations.”
The JCU CMR program is running a negotiation professional development workshop at the end of March that covers these key negotiation skills, with registrations now open to professional development participants. “The CMR program, including the Graduate Certificate and Master of Conflict Management and Resolution, as well as the joint degree with the Master of Business Administration, enables you to dive deeper into principles of negotiation,” Judith says.
“JCU has a range of subjects that elaborate on the research and science behind negotiation, in addition to practical skills. For example, in the subject Neuroscience, Psychology and Conflict we explore the mental shortcuts that are used to make decisions, called heuristics, and how these can sometimes lead us down the path to make poor decisions. Understanding these mental shortcuts can significantly improve how we negotiate.”
Judith says that negotiation is at the core of managing conflicts, and whether you want to become a better manager or leader, improve your negotiation skills in a professional setting, or simply upskill, there is something for everyone to learn.
“Our program participants come from many different professions so they can learn how to understand themselves and manage their emotions and communication strategies better.”
Want to learn more about negotiation and how you can improve your skills? Registrations are now open for a 3-day Negotiation workshop beginning 31 March in Townsville. Alternatively, you can find out more about Conflict Management and Resolution at JCU.
Read more from James Cook University, in their January article – From Intern to Employee.