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Winning The War: Negotiations Speaker Misha Glouberman On Conflict Resolution

When you're in the thick of a massive conflict with another person, negotiations speaker Misha Glouberman says it's easy to feel like there's no mutually beneficial solution. As he tells the CBC, however, more often than not there really is a compromise the two of you can come to—so long as you both put the effort into finding it. “When you get into that feud mindset or when you get into that enemy mindset,” he says, “you cross this line where stopping the other person from getting what they want starts to feel important in and of itself.” Once you've reached this war-like state, solving the problem may become almost impossible because both sides are out to destroy the other. In his wildly popular class, How To Talk To People About Things (which sells out every time he offers it), he shows us that negotiation is a skill, and that “talking things out” is a difficult, but teachable, process.

Here are three tips on solving a conflict that Glouberman touched upon during his CBC interview:

1) Teach people to not lose track of their interests: When you enter into a conflict you often have a clear goal in mind. Once you get deep into a quarrel with another person, however, it's extremely easy to lose sight of that goal. What happens is that you eventually you end up fighting about something that isn't what you—or often, the other person—wanted in the first place. Globerman says you need to make a point to keep your end-goal in mind and not deviate from it, even when passions start to run high.

2) Take steps to prevent the conflict from escalating: Remember that, typically, it's not in your best interest for a fight to escalate. While Glouberman stresses that understanding this is a very hard lesson to learn, it's also an incredibly valuable one. To keep things from getting out of control, he suggests thinking about the way you fight before you even get into a direct confrontation. Make a list of the knee-jerk reactions you typically have when you're mad (slamming a door, yelling, etc.) and remember that they don't help the situation. Being aware of the reactions you have when you go into a blind rage can help you avoid them when the time comes. Or, at very least, you'll be able to pinpoint when you're moving into dangerous territory and curb the behavior as soon as possible.

3) Listen: It sounds simple enough. But, when you're in the heat of the moment, you often exude all your energy into ensuring the other person understands your point of view. Often, the other person in the conflict does the same. Both of you are right in that understanding each other will help you solve the problem, Glouberman says. But putting 90 percent of your energy into being understood and only 10 percent into understanding means your words will mostly just crash into the other person's without solving anything. Part of understanding is listening, so try to really hear what the other person has to say, and they'll be more inclined to return the favor.

Glouberman is the author of The Chairs Are Where the People Go (named as one of the best books of 2011 by The New Yorker) and host of the standing-room only non-expert lecture series Trampoline Hall. In his talks, he helps us to master the art of negotiation in all kinds of situations, and, with all kinds of people. To learn how to better talk to people about things, contact The Lavin Agency to book speaker Misha Glouberman.

Why One Person’s Loss Isn’t Your Gain: Misha Glouberman On Negotiation

“You want to remember what really matters to you,” negotiation speaker Misha Glouberman says of interacting with others in a keynote speech, “and not fixate on one way of getting there.” In his popular class on negotiation and communication, How To Talk To People About Things, he teaches participants how to interact with people more effectively and secure more positive and productive outcomes. One of the pieces of advice he gives in his class (and in the keynote above) is that it's crucial to avoid getting into a 'battle' mentality with another person. It is key to not see someone else as your enemy, nor allow yourself to believe that their loss correlates into your own personal gain.

This is what's known as a zero-sum game. While Glouberman says that these are actually incredibly rare in real life, taking an 'enemy-battle' mindset can cause you to view many interactions as zero-sum games, when a mutually beneficial outcome is actually possible. And, this kind of thinking is actually extremely costly to your personal interests. You must be aware of this mentality and the negative implications that come with it, he stresses in the keynote. If you get wrapped up in this kind of thinking, you will often miss solutions that were not inherently obvious—and possibly more productive than the obvious—and could lose sight of what is ultimately most important.

Glouberman is the author of The Chairs Are Where the People Go (named as one of the best books of 2011 by The New Yorker) and host of the standing-room only non-expert lecture series Trampoline Hall. His classes—a new series of which is beginning at the end of the this month in Toronto—teaches people the invaluable skill of dealing with others in various situations. In all of his presentations on negotiation he pinpoints the most effective ways to navigate our interactions—in times of peace and conflict—to ensure we see the results we want to achieve.

Value Opposing Points of View: Misha Glouberman In The Globe and Mail

If you are going to be sitting in on negotiation speaker Misha Glouberman's class today, here is one of the first lessons he may give you: “[living in a city] you are always in conflict—and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.” Globerman (who begins his six-week workshop on conflict resolution at the University of Toronto’s Barnicke gallery Feb.19) was recently featured in The Globe and Mail. Glouberman, who The Globe calls a “Toronto staple” is the co-inventor of the non-expert lecture series Trampoline Hall. He is also the co-author of The Chairs Are Where the People Go, and a popular speaker on effective communication and conflict resolution. As he tells The Globe, there are a lot of things that get people riled up in big cities. This kind of conflict isn't always negative—so long as you know how to see things from the other person's point of view. Also, you need to be able to effectively come up with a positive resolution to your conflicting opinions.

Why is it important to hear the other person's point of view? “One reason for that is because it's kind and it's compassionate,” Glouberman tells The Globe, “but the other reason is that—and I say this 20 times a day when I teach the class—if you're in a negotiation, it's almost invariably in your interest to understand the other person’s point of view.” One way he teaches people to see things from outside of their own perspective is to have them act out a negotiation where they are not playing themselves. “It’s like a role-play,” he explains. “They get interviewed first as themselves, and then as the other person. And then they have to act out the conversation, but when they act out the conversation, someone else comes out and plays them. It's sort of silly but incredibly powerful.”

Glouberman says this lesson also helps you to refrain from getting into an “all of nothing” state of mind when dealing with people you disagree with. In politics, especially, he says that people have the tendency to disagree with everything someone says once they disagree with them once or dislike them as a person. We need to learn to overcome this attitude because sometimes we can miss out on the good things our opponents say by automatically tuning them out. In his classes (which are wildly popular) and his keynotes, Globerman teaches a straightforward, but invaluable skill: how to deal with people. We do it everyday, and often conflict with people in doing so. However, Glouberman shows us how to navigate negotiations so that we achieve the results we want—even in times of conflict.

Be Open To Unseen Solutions: Negotiation Speaker Misha Glouberman [VIDEO]

Negotiations speaker Misha Glouberman is an expert in conflict resolution. In one of his most recent keynotes (which often function more like collaborative Q&A sessions than stiff, rigid speeches) he explains that there is usually more than one way to solve a disagreement and get what you want. “There are really great solutions that are not obvious,” says Glouberman, “the tricky part is that being open to these unseen solutions isn't what our brains are naturally wired to do.”

Rather, people are naturally inclined to piece together the limited information at their disposal and then act towards a solution with blinders on. Meaning, we often only see one solution to a problem instead of branching out to think about all of our options. When we step back and assess an issue from multiple perspectives, we can formulate a better picture of the problem at hand and potentially find a more effective solution. This, however, is not possible when we develop an enemy-battle mentality, Glouberman warns. Thinking of situations as zero-sum games (where one party's loss is the others gain) is not an effective way to achieve your goals, and can often cloud your judgment and cause you to make poor decisions. Instead, he suggests keeping your end goal in mind at all times, and remaining open to multiple ways of achieving that goal. 

As the host of the popular Trampoline Hall non-expert lecture series (a monthly event in Toronto which often sells out) and the long-standing teacher of “How To Talk To People About Things,” (a workshop held at The University of Toronto) Glouberman helps audiences hone their negotiation and communication skills in his engaging, and interactive, talks.