Month: November 2017

What is Negotiation and Why is Negotiation Important in Business

People engage in negotiations regularly in fact multiple times a day without even realizing that the conversation they are engaged in is in fact a negotiation. It is something used all the time in the workplace as well as in personal life. Whether it is deciding on which cuisine to have in dinner or coming to an agreement about room rent with the landlady both are examples of negotiation.
However the above stated fact about the frequency of entering into negotiation does not ensure good negotiation skills. One reason for this is because people many times confuse negotiation with bargaining. They miss out on the fact that bargaining is a one-time event, negotiation on the other hand is a long term association.
Dictionary definition of negotiation is “a discussion to reach an agreement.” Though the definition appears to be simple but actual negotiations are far from it. Humans are complex and it becomes extremely difficult to reach an agreement when they have conflicting point of views.
Negotiation is commonly mistaken as same for convincing. Many believe that they are good at convincing others and thus good negotiators however convincing is not a synonym of negotiating.
In reality, negotiation is a complex process involving multiple angles. The best negotiations are not those who get all they want rather those who achieve a win-win outcome. In such outcomes all the parties are benefited and none are at loss.
Unlike the commonly held belief about negotiation being like arguments, a way to achieve your objective without considering others needs by hook or by crook.
Negotiation is a discussion in order to understand the objectives of the parties involved in the negotiation process and then come up with an alternative in order to achieve maximum satisfaction possible for both the parties.It is about achieving your objectives but while building, maintaining as well as improving relationships during the process. It is not about proving one right and the other wrong, rather about trying to gain maximum for both the parties.
Negotiation skills are important in everyday life as it increases one’s effectiveness not only by helping one achieve the objectives but also by helping one in getting along better with people.
Negotiation is used right from the start of joining an organisation. For example, at the time of joining an organization, one negotiates on salary etc. The individual tries to maximize the salary received whereas HR on the other hand tries to reduce cost for the organization. Another example of using negotiation skills in the workplace is at the time of making a deal with external stakeholders like vendors etc.
Again the goals are contradictory, as one party wants to pay minimum and other wants to earn maximum. In such distributive scenarios, where the pie is to be shared, effective negotiation helps in increasing the size of the pie. The challenge is to reach an optimal solution where both parties are satisfied with the outcome. Thus negotiation skills play a crucial role in achieving such outcomes.
Filed under: Negotiation Skills

Team Work Means More WE And Less Me

What is the difference between 4 people standing on a bus stand, waiting for the bus and 5 schoolboys practicing for a football match?

Both sets form a group which is, “A collection of people with a common characteristic or purpose”. However, on deeper thought do you realize the difference between the two? 4 people standing at the bus stop are individually waiting for a bus, while the 5 boys practicing for the match are collectively working to achieve a goal of improving their game-play and increase their chances of winning the match. Hence, they are not just a group of boys but a football team.

We all work in teams, be it in our personal or professional life. However, a work team is more dominant in today’s professional environment and its functioning. More often than not, we are a part of one or the other work-team. Being part of a team can be rewarding and challenging at the same time.. However, it is still important for us to effectively function within a team to achieve the goal.

Work teams have

  • Clearly defined purpose and goals
  • Shared commitment of all team members towards the
    • Process – how team works together to reach  its goal
    • Product – work team accomplishes
  • Performance is primarily measured by collective output of the team and individual performance is only secondary.

Working with a successful team hence, ensures better results for the organization, for the team as well as for the individual. This means our career advancement and development is also dependent on the team we work with and the way we work with the team. Work-teams are not successful in themselves, team members actively collaborate and work together towards making a team successful which enables superior delivery and achieving goals!

How to build effective team?

  • Spending time together to define group goal (in case it is already defined, focusing on specific aspects) and develop a shared and common understanding of the goal.
  • All team members participating in group discussion to ensure commitment
  • Clearly defining roles and responsibilities of each team member. Also defining  the rules and process to achieve goals.
  • Collaboratively agreeing upon model and levels of decision making.
  • Ensuring a culture of open communication, trust and respect within team members.
  • Conducting periodic team performance reviews.

Working towards being an effective team member is of crucial importance. It is essential to realize that individual goals can be attained only when team goals are attained and hence, one has to focus more on what “we” the team can do it better and less on what “I” can.

Here are five qualities to be a good team player

  1. Communication: Open, transparent and direct communication is valued when working in teams. It may save the team from taking wrong decisions. It also helps in building relationships with the team members which leads to greater willingness to collaborate
  2. Using strengths: The best way you can contribute to your team is by working on your strengths without overusing them to reach group goal.
  3. Trust: Building trust between your team members is essential for working together effectively. Constant doubting on their abilities will not only impair team relationships but also create hurdles in the way of the goal. Being trusted is of equal importance.
  4. Respect: Mutually respecting eachother. Every member is a part of the team for a purpose and may have strengths different from the ones you hold.
  5. Be reliable: Meet your deadlines and ensure meeting all the commitments you have made. This constantly sets an example for others and ensures better and timely team productivity.

It is not essential to be an extrovert to be a great team player as an ideal team is a mix of diversified set of individuals with different strengths. Playing on your strengths to ensure significant contribution to the team and being an active part of the team is the key to be a great team player.

Filed under: Team Building

Top Tips On How To Be A Mentor- Establishing Trust & Rapport

Mentoring is a partnered learning process. The critical element that can “make or break” the partnership is the kinship that is kindled amongst the mentor and the mentee.By rapport we are referring to actions that create a bond that rests on the strong foundation of trust and security. The basic building block for any relationship should always be trust and understanding, never insecurity or fear. The relationship between a mother and a child – one of the first that any human being has in life is one such. As a human being progresses in life , moving from dependence to independence, lessons in rejection, fear ,discomfort and pain makes them stronger. Here are a few tips to be a better mentor by establishing trust and rapport.

Rapport in mentoring also follows a similar journey – one that starts with trust and dependence, moves through challenges , learns from them and culminates in independence. The tone set during the first meeting would determine how the relationship between the mentor and the mentee takes off. The protégé enters into a mentoring partnership with a mask that arises from being unsure of the consequences of the whole exercise. The onus of reassuring the protégé and making him comfortable and secure rests on the mentor and this first step is crucial. But there is no cause if the first meeting doesn’t turn out to be great. I’m sure we all have built great friendships where day – one started on shaky ground. The same holds good with a mentoring partnership as well.

Establishing rapport with an unknown person is easier said than done. For kindling the embers of trust and kinship from the first meeting it is important to identify the areas of rapport which needs to be focussed on. We shall call it the four components – communicating in the same platform, gifting gestures and being attentive to feelings .

Breaking the hierarchy

The protégé walks into the first mentoring with a lot of unanswered questions. Am I going to be judged? Is this situation embarrassing? What if I don’t do well? The underlying apprehension can be overcome in a minute through a welcoming gesture from the mentor. The protégé from the first minute should be reassured of the fact that the mentoring process is to happen on a level play- ground. Positive gestures like a smile, a warm handshake, eye contact, personalised greeting, reference to each other by first names etc can set the right tone indicating that there is no hierarchy or level in mentoring.

Sense of abundance

A lot of mentors make the classic mistake of starting off on a warm note, but become serious and grave as the session gains momentum. It is important to take that camaraderie and warmth and camaraderie forward at least till the protégé is accepting and  trusting to create positive learning ambience in mentoring. Moving the mentoring session to a less formal environment like a coffee-shop, or passing a round of chocolates at the start of the session as a ritual can lighten the mood and give an impression of a “not – so serious” mentoring session. Gifting gestures from the mentor gives out positive messages and dissolves any inhibitions that they protégé may have about the mentor being “ dangerous”.

Empathetic Listening

A great mentor will be extremely conscious of the mentees reactions and would use the learning to relate to their feelings. A fruitful mentoring partnership is one where the protégé is made to feel at ease. The mentor has to put all efforts to ensure that the protégé feels that he/she is the most important person in the room. Unconditional positive regard for feelings right from the gestation stage of the relationship is what can create a long standing impact of positivity setting the pace for a good kinship.

There is no right or wrong approach to build a great mentoring kinship. Using these components as pointers each mentor can devise a plan for rapport building based on what the mentoring objective is. What is the approach that you want to adopt?

Filed under: Mentoring

Effective Communication – 4 Strategies For Breaking Barriers

Ever felt that you are unable to communicate the way you would like? All of us face many barriers while communicating which makes our communication less effective than we would like. Most of these barriers can be overcome if we pay just a little bit more attention to our communication style. Before we talk about overcoming barriers let us understand what these barriers are.

Some common barriers to communication include:
  • Physical barriers
  • Cultural barriers
  • Biases
  • Language barriers
  • Poor Listening

Is it possible to overcome these barriers?

The answer is an emphatic “YES”!

We can use some effective strategies to overcome these barriers:

Use Technology Effectively – Physical barriers can be overcome by using technology effectively in today’s technology driven world. Geographical barriers are reducing in significance with the ever improving communication technology, however, using this technology effectively is equally critical.

Be Culture Sensitive – In this ever-shrinking world working with people from different cultures has become the rule rather than an exception. Even the smallest of organizations have teams of people from all over the world. If you want to communicate effectively in a multicultural environment, you must understand different cultures and be sensitive to them.

Eliminate Biases – Bias is a prejudice for or against something or someone. For effective communication, biases should be eliminated or minimized otherwise it can cloud our judgement and hamper communication. Being non-judgmental is extremely important for effective communication. Objective thinking should be cultivated and openness to varied ideas and attitudes are important for eliminating biases.

Concise and Clear Content – Many times communication becomes ineffective due to the content being delivered. If the content is not structured properly or the language does not fit the requirement of the audience, communication becomes ineffective. Use of jargons should depend on the knowledge and background of the audience. Communication with too much jargon may be difficult to understand, but at the same time simplistic language may not engage the audience.

Effective Listening – Most of the time the burden for effective communication is on the sender. However, the receiver is as important in the process of communication as the sender. Effective listening or active listening can help the receiver to contribute to effective communication. Providing feedback is an integral part of effective listening and this goes a long way in ensuring effective communication.

Breaking barriers to communication is imperative since effective communication is the basis for all human activity, all it requires is a little effort and introspection!

Filed under: Communication Skills

Thank You Please – Why are these little words important?

Ever been told to use the golden words while talking to others? As children we are often coaxed and threatened into using words like “Thank You, “Please”, and “Sorry”. Why are these little words important? They go a long way in creating a congenial environment and circumventing conflict. Courteous communication can be a very important tool in the carrying out communication effectively. But are these words enough in resulting in courteous communication? Well, not really. There are many things one must keep in mind in ensuring courteous communication.

Let us begin by understating what is courtesy. Courtesy can be defined as polite behavior and attitude towards others. The next question is how important is it to be courteous. Let me illustrate with an example – you reach office huffing, having started the day badly, spilling coffee all over yourself and then missing the 8:00 am bus. You see the elevator door closing as you run with only a couple of minutes to spare for a meeting on the 15th floor.

Your anger and frustration is just about to reach its peak, when a friendly hand slides out and stops the lift for you. Your anger and frustration melts straightaway. You reach the meeting on time and give a wonderful presentation feeling confident after the elevator experience. Courtesy becomes even more important in direct communication. Courteous communication when asking a colleague for help or sending sales proposition mail to a client can multiply your chances of being met with a positive response.

Some pointers for courteous communication:

  • For starters address people with respect, using a name or salutation they are comfortable with. If you don’t know the person well go formal.
  • Be empathetic. Create your message keeping in mind the requirements and state of mind of the audience.
  • Be honest. There is no substitute for honesty and sincerity. Trying to trick someone is never going to result in successful communication and relationships.
  • Be friendly. Maintaining a friendly tone in your message will immediately get positive vibes from the receiver.
  • Use a gentle and polite tone. Harsh and insensitive words will do nothing for your goal.
  • Even when disagreeing with someone put it politely. Do not attack the person.
  • Try to maintain a positive tone even for negative messages, always end the message on a positive note.

These guidelines will ensure courteous and eventually effective communication and a congenial work environment.

For more on Effective Communication lookup BizComm.

Filed under: Communication Skills