Do you want to repair some relationships in 2017?

In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Shapiro, Associate Director of the Harvard Negotiation Project and Program on Negotiation faculty member, offers some suggestions on how negotiation skills can be used to repair friendships that are strained or broken.

To start, suggests Shapiro, don’t assume that the other party is going to be ready right away to return to a close relationship. By listening closely to the concerns and feelings expressed by a friend, and understanding their perspective, one can begin to rebuild trust, a key component in any relationship.

In his book, Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate, Shapiro emphasizes that understanding the other party’s key concerns is essential when negotiations involve powerful emotions. When both parties understand these core concerns, emotions can become an asset rather than an obstacle to negotiation. This is as true in personal negotiations as it is when dealing with high-stakes international conflict.

Negotiating Skills and Negotiation Techniques from Successful Negotiation Examples – 3 Negotiation Tips from Beyond Reason

In our article, Case Study of Conflict Management: Monitor Your Emotions in Dispute Resolution, the follow negotiation skills advice is offered for dealing with unexpected emotions at the bargaining table:

– Give yourself a “plan B” negotiation strategy

Knowing your best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA) is one of the most valuable pieces of information you can bring to the negotiation table. Knowing your walk away options, and those of your counterpart, will not only help you define the zone of possible agreement (ZOPA), but it will also help you find areas of potential value creation, and value claiming. See also, Know Your BATNA – The Power of Information in Negotiation.

– Re-frame the negotiation and shift the focus

Formulate questions and ask them strategically in order to “shift the focus” during the negotiation and reveal new information while also testing your assumptions about the negotiation at hand.

– Diagnose your needs, what you lack, and what you hope to achieve from a negotiated agreement. See also, In Business Negotiations, Broaden Your Focus.

Knowing your “plan B” and testing your assumptions through strategic questioning helps negotiators hone in on the needs, interests, and motivations that really matter to them during negotiation scenarios. By refining your knowledge about the negotiation at hand, you can modify your negotiation techniques and negotiation strategies to best achieve your goals.

Reprinted from the Harvard Program on Negotiation.