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Collaborative problem solving for community safety
Collaborative problem solving for community safety

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4.4 Negotiating

While many police officers are trained in negotiation techniques for difficult and often extreme situations of stress and danger, it is worth remembering that each of us negotiates on a daily basis. From ensuring that your five-year-old child eats his or her greens to agreeing a schedule of work for your house with a builder, negotiation is ever-present.

The key to successful negotiation lies in recognising our own personal biases and requirements, building trust and empathy, actively listening to the needs of others and the application of positive influencing techniques. Negotiation in a community should not be adversarial and should not be about seeking a win/lose outcome, but rather seeking a win/win in which all parties gain from both the process and the outcome.

But how to go about this?

Psychologists suggest that a good way to start negotiations in this context is to first seek out areas where you agree, and to acknowledge these communal values and/or interests; then to address the minor disagreements; before attempting to deal with any more major disagreements.

This allows time for some rapport and trust to be built up and means major disagreements are more likely to be dealt with in a more rational and adult manner than would otherwise be the case – even if deadlock seems to apparent.