Negotiation and Empathy: Can Workplace Bullies See Your Perspective?

Negotiation

I received a call recently from an executive who was dealing with a workplace bullying situation. Susan is making “outrageous” demands on the President. The President needs to keep Susan because she is a subject-matter expert. That means she is critical to the success of the business and cannot be fired without great cost to the bottom line. So the President keeps trying to negotiate with her.

Negotiation Doesn’t Work With People Who Bully

However, he is making one huge mistake during the negotiations. He believes that he has been reasonable and that Susan should share his point of view (POV). He is willing to be flexible but that flexibility is based on his POV. And, I expect that most people would agree that he has been reasonable and flexible. But Susan does NOT feel that way.
People who use bullying as a way to manage themselves and others, have almost no capacity to empathize. They simply cannot see another POV. The only result will be lose/lose.

Negotiation Has Limits

My recommendation to the President is to realize that his reasonableness and flexibility are no guarantees that Susan will be reasonable. He has to decide which battles he will fight and which he will concede. This gives him to power to reduce the arguments and limit the number of times he will have to negotiate with Susan. Once he grasps that she cannot understand his POV, he can change his expectations and the focus of their battles.

If you want help with negotiation in a workplace conflict situation, then it is time to contact me, Kathleen Bartle, MA. I am an Executive Conflict Consultant and I can help you address the problem.