The holiday season is full of excitement, fun and yes… stress! Plenty of opportunity to reflect on some of the principals and skills used on CEDR’s Certificate of Advanced Negotiation, and although many of the topics covered refer to how to negotiate ‘at work’, these skills can just as easily be used ‘at home’ - which is something we often forget to do. So here are a few examples of how some of these skills can best be used during this holiday season!

Repayment for an act by another person. For example, at this time of year there is nothing more stressful then trying to work out what sort of gift is appropriate – if it is too much then there is a concern that it may have a negative impact on the other person and if it is too little then it might have a negative impact on you - so what do you do? Remember the three basic drivers – power, timing and influence when making your buying decision, particularly when you are in receipt of a surprise gift.

Managing emotion
There is such a build-up to Christmas that when it actually arrives people are often stressed to the maximum. The weeks before the big day are filled with too many Xmas parties, too many days of late-night shopping and yes, staying up late to wrap gifts. So Xmas day can be a little stressful, such as a heated discussion about who should make the gravy, which when made hopefully won’t end up on the wall! So take a breath and remember the three steps of managing emotion - Recognise (your and theirs), Respect (that they are entitled to this emotion), Respond (appropriately).

Styles of conflict
Each person has a preferred style of dealing with conflict and although everyone has the ability to use a variety of styles, given a set of circumstances, at this time of year when family and work pressures often collide, people will respond without necessarily thinking, causing even greater conflict. In order to try and avoid this additional burden remember your own conflict style flexibility – sometimes it is appropriate to avoid or accommodate and not always compete – yes, the tree could be a little straighter and the lights aren’t quite even but remember the bigger picture… it’s Xmas and things won’t always be perfect, will they?

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by Ranse Howell

Ranse Howell is the Mediator and Consultant for The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR).