It does not matter what you do for work or what position you hold in the company, there will be a time where you have to have one of these “intimate negotiations.” There are a couple of times when these conversations occur, of course dependent upon your position within the company:
- Salary negotiation upon hiring (both employee and employer)
- Conflict resolution among coworkers
- Dealing with a disgruntled employee
- Dealing with a demanding boss
- Asking for a raise
The list could go on for a while but those are the general basics of when a tough discussion would occur during your working years. These conversations are bound to happen so no sense in trying to avoid them. If you have never had one of these conversations, then you probably fall into one of the following categories: underpaid, overworked, running a failing company, being extremely inefficient, or altogether working or running the wrong company.
Like every good relationship you need solid communication. Without communication, you are not able to achieve win-win negotiations (See post on Negotiating a Win Win). That is all these tough conversations really are, intimate negotiations. I think often times we are comfortable with performing negotiations with our customers or when it comes to purchasing something, such as a car or house, but when it comes to people that we work with every day whether employee or employer, it is more intimate and that is where the innate problem lies.
There are really two situations for which the intimate negotiation occurs as an employee. The first is with superiors and the second is with peers. As an employee, remember that you are a valuable commodity — you would not be sitting wherever you are sitting if you were not. You were hired because they wanted you there, now it is time to start acting like it. I am not saying to walk into your bosses office and demand a 200% raise because that probably will not work but you most definitely need to stand up for yourself. The only thing that is being hurt as a result of lack of communication is you. Eventually, of course, it will affect your work and the employer might be the one having the conversation. The phrase I like best when approaching these situations goes something like this, “If you want me to be able to perform my job to the best of my abilities I need not be worrying about money. This means that I need X, Y, and Z.” When dealing with a conflict with another employee the conversation does not go all that differently. Explain why the negative relationship is affecting your work and how, if not resolved, you will be forced to take it to a higher power. The easiest thing to remember is just be confident, direct, and calm.
As an employer, remember that your people are your most valuable asset and you must take care of them. However, often times as an employer we think that all of our employees are altogether happy and often times that is not the case. This is why an open door policy, where you can really connect with your subordinates, is so critically important. This allows employees to be willing to discuss the uncomfortable topics with you. Without them, your organization will suffer and duties will be performed far less efficiently. As an employer, the most important conversation, as it pertains to employees, is when you notice a disgruntled employee . This employee may even be one who has simply checked out — a time card puncher, if you will. I just read an interesting book called The Energy Bus and it talks about how everyone who works for you needs to get on your bus, share your vision. When they are not on your bus you need to figure out why and if they are capable of getting on. If not, then it is time to cut ties. It has become a doing problem not a fixable knowing problem (Post Coming Soon on Knowing Doing Problem).
Ultimately, the point is you need to have these conversations otherwise, your happiness or business could altogether diminish. Be direct and to the point by using “I” statements and always refer back to the company. Remember, this is ultimately an intimate negotiation.