“I Hear You”

Lucia A Worthington

Ebenstein cautions against a second outcome – going too far to accommodate another. This results in a lose-win, where you lose and they win. He gives examples of someone conceding because that person failed to fully understand the full context of giving up too much. It can also set up a pattern of conceding if another person is bullying or overly aggressive.

A third option is to simply walk away from the dispute if it loses value. This may result in a lose-lose or win-lose for the person who decides “not to play the game.”

The key to successful negotiation, Ebenstein writes, is to maintain a balance by fully understanding multiple points of view during conflict. Emotions run high during negotiations and the focus should be on reason and the specific issue. Care must be taken not to confuse one situation with a similar one. There may be systemic issues that are embedded in the organizational culture that can make some conflicts predictable unless a new method to address it is developed.

The author reminds us to be open to diversity. This requires new approaches. The problem may be magnified if there are cross–cultural differences that each person does not understand. Personalities and culture can result in one person being outgoing and “in-your-face interactive,” while another person may be more passive and private. Misunderstandings arise when the first person is seen as brash and the second person is seen as arrogant. Festering resentment may be the consequence on either or both sides if these differences are not understood or recognized.

Lastly, Ebenstein encourages us to engage in role playing like many of us did naturally as children. Role playing, if spontaneous and not scripted, can reveal core problems and differences that were not seen before. By listening, observing, reflecting and taking the “I” out of the negotiation process, it is possible to repair communication breakdowns and build healthy interpersonal relationships at home, at work or wherever we need to.

“I Hear You” is a good book for the executive bookshelf.

Lucia Worthington is a seasoned successful business woman, a professor of business and management and can be reached at global.learning@lworthington.com. To recommend a book for review, email bookreviews@vbjusa.com.

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