The FAST way to sort out conflict

Negotiation can be challenging, particularly in a conflict situation. Using FAST principles will help you keep the conversation in ‘okay’ mode.

Focus on one issue at a time

Difficult negotiations can be derailed by side issues. So you need to focus and keep the conversation focussed on one thing at a time. Sometimes, during conflict, the other person deliberately tries to take the conversation off-track. But you can prevent diversions by identifying the key issue which needs to be resolved.

Here’s how to do this. First, make sure you both agree what the main issue is. And be careful to use neutral language to describe that issue. Avoid framing it in a way that blames or accuses anyone. Second don’t react emotionally. Keep the main point in mind and it will instantly become easier to stay on track.

Ask what THEY think and feel

Avoid rushing into expressing your viewpoint. Instead, take a step back and ask the other person for their opinion before giving yours. You’ll gain a better understanding of the issue and valuable insights into the other person’s perspective. And you’ll get them onside. Showing respect for their position increases the odds they’ll respect your perspective when it’s your turn to speak.

Solve the problem together

You’ve agreed on the main issue and understand what each person thinks about it. Now you’re in a better position to solve the problem. This means finding solutions that are going to work for both of you. Identify the key criteria you both want satisfied in the solution. Start with the things you can agree on. Then brainstorm options for handling the trickier issues.

Thank them for working with you

Thanking other people shows you appreciate their time and value their opinions. This in itself can go a long way to preventing future disagreements. Make sure you acknowledge people’s commitment to solving the problem and say ‘thanks for taking the time to sort this out.’

Conflict can take time to sort out. You may not solve the problem in one conversation. However, using the FAST framework in difficult situations makes positive outcomes more likely.

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