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In the last blog Have a difficult problem to solve? Try negotiation. Part 1″, I wrote that problem solving skills are one element of solid leadership skills and that effective leaders solve problems by trying to negotiate a resolution. There are three things that you can do immediately to enhance your negotiation skills. In that article I introduced two concepts: Considering interests (yours and theirs) and communicating with purpose. In this article I want to discuss the third way that you can improve your negotiation skills.

Align yourselves around a common purpose

The purpose for negotiating with someone –anyone– is to determine if you share enough interests and common ground to realize a common purpose. Each time parties come together for a common purpose only some of their interests will be shared interests; they will also have some opposing interests as well. This applies to every negotiation whether it is with a patient about a bill, a new contract with a vendor, a co-worker you share responsibilities with or a family member about vacation plans. The key is to align yourselves in areas of shared interests and then negotiate the other areas from that alignment.

So, before you begin a negotiation consider where there might be some alignment around some common purpose and start the negotiations off with that tone. For example, “We are here today to talk about what can be done to improve patient care and specifically how to improve response time to customer inquiries.” Each person may have several different thoughts on how this can be achieved, but by aligning yourselves to the common purpose of improving patient care, you are more likely to find an agreeable way to accomplish this purpose and in less time.

The next time that you find yourself faced with a “people” problem try negotiations. You will be pleasantly surprised by the results you will achieve.