Last week, the Schranner Negotiation Institute held their renowned N-Conference in New York City for the first time, assembling an incredibly impressive lineup of experts to speak on the topic of “Decision Making Under Pressure”.
In addition to the tremendous amount of insight provided for making better decisions when negotiating in high pressure situations, one counter-intuitive theme resonated strongly throughout the day: While it might be easy to think of conflict as something to avoid, we should actually embrace it.
Why is this so?
Global Negotiation Expert and CEO Matthias Schranner suggests that forces in business and culture are now moving towards increasingly tougher negotiations. For this reason, he suggests we should begin our negotiations by creating a “conflict playground”. This means starting with high demands, communicating our ability to walk away, and moving to a mode of cooperation only after we’ve respectfully signaled to the other side we are not be taken advantage of. (More on his perspective on embracing conflict can be found here.)
Another masterful speaker who highlighted the importance of embracing conflict was retired NYPD Lieutenant and regarded Hostage Negotiation expert Jack Cambria. After 14 years as the head of the NYPD Hostage Negotiation Team, Lt. Cambra provides an ocean of invaluable wisdom for dealing with high pressure and high stakes encounters.
During his presentation, Lt. Cambria highlighted our most common responses to conflict:
However, what the accomplished Lt. Cambria recommends instead of the options above is to choose an additional yet ultimately correct fourth response: face the conflict. And to deepen this perspective, he shares a powerful and optimistic learning lesson –
“Embrace difficult people because they become our greatest teachers.”
What we can take from two of the world’s top negotiation experts, who’ve been involved in life threatening situations that make our most challenging business negotiations seem like a walk in the park, is to embrace and even love conflict – because doing so will not only help us be stronger in our negotiations in the short term, but also help strengthen our character in the long.