Q&A about negotiation with Leigh Ann Roberts

July 15, 2016

Q&A about negotiation with Leigh Ann Roberts

Do nonprofit professionals need negotiation skills? Yes! Read more in this Q&A with CNM consultant and workshop leader Leigh Ann Roberts. Then, register for the upcoming workshop on our Workshop Calendar here.

Q: Why are negotiation skills important in the nonprofit sector? Some might say that they are more useful in the for-profit world.

A: I think negotiation is a core competency for any professional and it is a strong indicator of emotional professional intelligence and competency. We use negotiation in every area of our life, hopefully well. Becoming aware, first, of your style is so important, whether you’re a for-profit or nonprofit leader, because you are making decisions from that style all day long. It could be anything from having a difficult talk with a staff member, having a clarity conversation with a board member, hammering out terms with a vendor or contractor, and so much more, so you’ve got to recognize that your style in negotiation is showing up everywhere. If I ask someone what their negotiation style is and they say, “Well, I don’t have one,” that is an approach. This is about making sure that the approach is intentional and that it is founded in principles that make sense.

The model that I routinely use with all professionals is interest-based negotiation. It is a big part of Harvard’s program and the book Getting to Yes. This is a model that feels good for introverts and extroverts alike, and for those who love to haggle and those who would rather pay double than haggle. I think some people operate from negotiation and difficult conversations from the standpoint that these conversations tear others down, but my whole philosophy is that these moments can be turning points that can turn surface-level connections into connections that will sustain throughout a career. They are real opportunities.

Q: Who would benefit from this workshop?

A: Anybody that is dealing with other people! Or other organizations. This is a form of communication that is interest-based and founded in best practices, so this applies to everyone from a grant writer who never talks to other people but is the face of persuasion for an organization, to a program manager who is not only interacting with populations that they serve but those they supervise. If you’re supervising someone or if an aspect of your job is to influence outcomes, you’ve got to have a framework for negotiation.

Q:  In addition to learning about their own negotiation style, what else can workshop attendees take away from the class?

A: In addition to self-awareness, they’re going to leave with a core model that can benefit them in any situation. The model we’re using is the same one that people can use with their landlord. It is one of those that can be plugged in anywhere. Sometimes these conversations are triggering for people, so if you’ve got a model that shows you the next step, it gives you confidence for any difficult conversation you need to have.

It’s also being able to recognize other negotiation styles and understanding how to work with them and why they might be making the decisions they are making. That can really mystify people. Some people might be perplexed why someone would be conflict-avoidant or, in contrast, competitive. Both those people believe they are doing the best thing, either for the relationship or for the organization, but because it’s a different style, sometimes people misinterpret their approach. So awareness of the different styles builds understanding but also compassion.

comments powered by Disqus