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Do you build consensus in a productive way?

September 5, 2016

Yesterday I received an invitation from HR.com to attend a webinar entitled ‘Disagree agreeably to boost productivity’. The theme of the session is that disagreement is sometimes inevitable, but it does not have to create disharmony or argument. When we operate with openness and respect, disagreement can be a learning experience that boosts value. On the other hand, handled the wrong way, disagreement creates chasms, it undermines cooperation and respect.

Certainly these points are important for all of us to remember, in both business and personal life. However, it strikes me there is a different twist to this principle, which is ‘Agreeing disagreeably undermines value’. And for those of us involved in contract negotiation, this is an equally important principle.

How often have you emerged from a negotiation feeling somewhat annoyed or disgruntled, perhaps not even feeling committed to the result? Far too often, we reach agreement through a process of contention and grudging compromise. Just because we have agreed does not make the process itself agreeable – and that surely is a point also worthy of reflection as we consider our objectives and decide on our negotiating style.

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