Negotiations and Discipline

Negotiating about changing someone’s behavior can be more effective than using coercion. With this in mind, here are a few suggestions when you negotiate about a behavior or discipline situation.

• Be just. Good negotiators always think about how they can show that the outcome will be fair to all parties. In a discipline matter, this means that all parties feel the outcome will be just. If the decision is fair or just, the person or people with whom you are negotiating will never feel coerced or taken advantage of. This will make it easier to agree on the decision.

• Use a power pose. Expansive, open postures will prompt you to feel more powerful and confident during the negotiation. In contrast closed positions (low power poses) do the opposite.

• Start high. Have a high but realistic starting or “anchoring” point so that you will be able to “negotiate” down but still have the other person(s) believe the agreement is fair and just.

• Stay in control. Remember that the person who asks the question controls the conversation. Don’t overdo your questions but when possible ask another question, rather than give in to something to which you do not agree.

• Be noncoercive. By the mere fact of negotiating even without using coercion, you are using authority. Do not confuse using authority or noncoercion with permissiveness.

• Successful negotiators ELICIT a consequence or procedure (rather than imposing one) so that counterwill (the human tendency to resist coercion) will not be prompted. Being just or fair in discipline situations requires ownership in the final decision. Successful negotiators know this and do not have the other(s) leave feeling that they are victims. Instead they leave with the feelings of fairness and of accepting responsibility for their behavior.