Saving Face in Negotiations
Often in a negotiation people will continue to hold out not because the proposal on the table is inherently unacceptable, but simply because they want to avoid the feeling or the appearance of backing down to the other side.
Fisher & Ury 'Getting to Yes'
Face negotiation concerns
Whoops! You've just discovered a serious error in a report that you wrote last week.
That very same report is now on the desks of senior managers who in turn will be using it to deliver presentations to dozens of important clients!
How very embarrassing!
What on earth do you do now?
How do you negotiate your way through this without losing face?
It's at moments like these that we feel our whole reputation is under threat.
More than this our image our very being! We strive to maintain a positive image in the eyes and minds of all those we deal with at work and socially.
Messing it up is not good.
Another word for this image or reputation is 'face'.
Maintaining a positive face is vital to all of us and when it's under threat we feel the need to defend it.
Some examples of panic negotiating:
"I don't understand how that paragraph got in - I never wrote it."
"I gave this to X to double check he must have misunderstood the instruction."
"Well, you see, those figures were technically correct when viewed in that context..."
etc. etc. etc.
Or maybe you are one of those wonderful human beings that doesn't negotiate but will simply own up and get on with sorting the problem?
Well, you might well be but many others you will deal with may not be!
Negotiating a loss of face is no joking matter for many of us.
Some of us will cling on to it for dear life regardless of the negative impact it is likely to have on our relationships and communication.
Some examples of positive negotiation:
"Why can't he admit he made a mistake?"
Well maybe you could help him or her admit it.
This 'face' thing is a two-way game.
You can help someone save face and you can promote your positive face in the process and visa versa. Result!
Learning negotiation techniques to deal with 'face' concerns in communication provides a powerful tool to improve relationships in all spheres of life.
I wonder how many unnecessary resignations and divorces can be traced back to a simple case of negotiating badly in a face-threatening situation?
An awful lot I would guess!
After all 'sorry' is the hardest word to say.
Negotiation Skills Training
Impact Factory runs
for anyone who is interested in
"I have been able to practise many of the things we learnt on the day. Understanding the different approaches people tend to take has allowed us to move some conversations forward."
Isabel Llewellyn - Head of Partnerships - Hostelling International
"The tailored approach is very clever and maximises learning for every delegate. It is also a lot of fun. I feel more confident in negotiations and am using the skills I learned."
Simon McLean - Senior Services Project Manager - University of London
Freephone: 0808 1234 909
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