How to deal with a negotiation breakdown

I was reading a number of blog entries which were seeking input from readers regarding how to deal with interpersonal communication difficulties.  There were a number of suggestions, any of which might bring results, but they were all missing one thing.  Simplicity.

By simplicity, I mean that the methods suggested for repairing from disagreement and stalled talks were usually detailed and called for convolutions more likely to lead to greater confusion than to clarity and resolution.

I would like to offer a simple, clear statement – a proposition which either party can use to regain ground during periods of conflict and disagreement.

Simply say: “Let’s begin again!”  Then start over.  Rather than wade through the morass of misunderstanding, emotion and volatile mood, suggest going back to the start and beginning again.  This give breathing room and allows all parties concerned to unload the burden of a stalled process without feeling the need to unravel and correct it.

I have found this to be incredibly helpful in righting the ship of foundering interpersonal communications more than once.  During a heated meeting, when tempers were high and a lot was on the table, I stood up and said that I would like to offer a solution for consideration.

“Let’s begin again,” I said.  The very air in the room ceased to be electric and I could almost hear everyone pause, think, then breathe as they allowed the suggestion to sink in.  Within ten minutes we were entertaining new ideas and brainstorming fresh paths to forge a exciting project.

The next time you sense you and your partners are on a collision course that might lead to confusion, damaged feelings, and time wasted in combat rather than progress, consider starting over.

It’s as simple as saying, “Let’s begin again.”


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