Listening has been established as an effective tool when it comes to communication in the field of business today. It is either a passive or an active with active listening being the emphasis in the field of business communication. This gives rise to the styles employed by people in the process of listening. The first one is people-oriented listening. According to Barker (1971), they exhibit a great deal of attachment with other people and the feelings those people have. For this reason they derive their energy from relating with the others and they grow a tendency to get to know their personal lives and use that as a means of understanding them. People-oriented listeners use emotions and empathy in a bid to get their arguments across which makes them tend to be defenseless and they often use this to appeal to emotion. Such a style can be disadvantageous in that one may become too attached to other people’s lives and may be pulled into unhealthy relationships and may expose one to inability to make decisions (Watson & Barker, 1995).
Another listening style is content oriented listening. This style of listening requires that one concentrates in understanding what is being said as opposed to attaching value to who is saying it and how they feel at that moment. People using this style tend to attach more weight to the credibility of the person delivering the message in order to value the content of their message. The disadvantage that such a listener ma encounter is the possibility of missing out on important information when they ignore certain messages because they lack evidence to back them up (Kirtley & Honeycutt (1996).
A third type of listening style is action oriented listening. This type of listeners keeps a constant check of the time. They have well organized schedules throughout the day with time allocate to listening for each. If such time is then over run they tend to loose focus. To keep time they demand for facts that are short and to the point (Dijk & Bryant 2009).
Listening should not be confused with hearing. While hearing involves just the process of taking in sound and requires just having ears, listening means active involvement and is a deliberate and conscious process of understanding sound and attaching meaning to it. A good listener should: keep an eye contact with the speaker, show attentiveness by seeking clarification, exhibits patience by failing to interrupt the speaker, confirms the information, asks questions, controls their emotion, shows response by making bodily movements and signs, gives relative feedback, shows empathy, exhibits care to the speaker, demonstrates interest in the person giving the message personally, avoids criticism and has an open mind (Barker, 2010).
Listening can either be active, critical or empathetic. Active listening calls for identifying the main concept before developing a basic outline of it in the mind. An active listener then attempts to foresee what the next action or result will be while relating the various findings to the real life experiences. He also evaluates the points by comparing and contrasting them. An active listener is known to as ask a lot of questions to the speaker. Critical listening calls for taking time to identify what the speaker’s intents are and his point of view. The idea here is to offer challenge to the ideas of the speaker in a bid to find out what really the truth is and what is fiction. A critical listener knows and appreciates his own biases and puts them into account while offering criticism to the facts. An active speaker concludes by assessing the whole message and forming his own understanding. Empathetic listeners are able to identify their emotional attachments and take time to listen and understand the speaker’s story. They exhibit patience in letting the speaker figure out a solution for themselves (Bell, 2010).
As a speaker it is good to ensure that you have everyone’s ears as u deliver your message. Strategies to ensure that others listen as you talk include: have a confident voice that commands attention, do not take time to deliver that exact point instead make the point quickly, make ample preparation before talking, have the concepts you wish to deliver written down, show flexibility, and vary your sound vocals to suit each point.
Amidst today’s massive competition and scarcity of resources, a business that establishes itself as a strong player is the one that possesses the proper technique of negotiating and making the process a cooperative affair where both parties benefit in a win-win situation as opposed to gaining advantage over the other party or parties. The process is successful when one or both parties are convinced that there is nothing more to benefit from the terms being agreed upon. Negotiation therefore can be termed as the process by which two or more people or groups exchange their views and interests in a bid to come to an agreed ground position that is comfortable for both parties(Swinton, 2005) .
The need to negotiate in a business setting is brought by factors such as: insufficiency of resources, presence of several groupings and teams in the business environment, diversities in the various aspects in the business working environment globally, and the debating tendencies in the society today. Effective negotiation techniques can help the business and the organization as well as the individuals working realizes some benefits. Good negotiation skills can assist in placing the individual or the business in a better position to control the situation to their advantage. In cases of dispute, negotiation helps solve the issues as opposed to lawsuit or arbitration ending the situation as a win-win affair. Negotiation assists parties arrive at a resolution hence fostering a good rapport and maintaining the relationship and the professionalism. Negotiation helps keeps the stress levels as well as frustrations at minimum while still avoiding chances of conflicts in the long run (Swinton, 2005) .
There are two common strategies when it comes to negotiating or bargaining. These are integrative bargaining strategy and distributive bargaining strategy. Distributive strategy is also called win-loose bargaining which is a competitive strategy mostly used to settle cases where a fixed resource is in question. The more one party gets the less the other one ends up with. Each party therefore tries to secure the portion without putting in mind the relationship thereafter. On the other hand, integrative bargaining strategy calls for the involved parties to join forces and arrive at a win-win situation where the involved parties end up with the maximum benefits. In integrative bargaining, the end result fosters a good relationship which has future possibilities and the results are pleasing to all parties (McNamara, 2003).
The process of negotiation occurs in five stages. The first one is preparation and planning. This step involves defining what you want to gain and the reason for the need. Prepare and establish BATNA and develop an outline and the come up with a strategy. The next step is defining the ground rules. This involves coming up with an agenda and then lay down the best criteria for approaching it. Both parties also clearly state what they should do if a common ground is not realized. Another ground rule is agreeing on what actions are necessary or acceptable and which ones are not. The third stage is clarification and justification. Each party states its motives and interests clearly. To ensure you stand a better chance in the bargain, follow the formulated frame of actions. Aspire to understand the others interests by asking them questions. Ensure you only share the information that supports your argument. The fourth stage involves the real bargaining. The secret here is to maintain your argument on the line of reaching a solution as opposed to concentrating on the people. Let the focus be on the parties interests and not their stands. Once you direct your case forward, do not look back but aim at building on the ground you’ve already gained. Even as you aim at getting the best deal, create allowances that allows for the other party to benefit too i.e. have a “win-win” situation. From the options reached at, pick the best one guided by the principles or the objectives. The fifth and the final stage in negotiation is closure and implementation. This involves stating in spoken words the ground that the parties agreed upon, and then clearly discuss the key points so as to make sure every party is in agreement with the agreed upon position. After everybody understands and agrees, put it in writing and have all parties sign to certify the agreement (Varey, 1996).
A conflict in a business situation arises when there are different parties involved in a tussle over differing interests, goals, views or methods to solve issues. A conflict is brought about by the feeling that a certain party is blocking ones attempt to achieve a certain goal. A conflict may be considered as a normal or essential thing in an organization depending on the view. It is the duty of the management then to keep the conflict levels at minimum by managing it. Conflict management is important because there is need to identify if the conflict is positive or negative. A positive conflict is constructive and fosters important solutions to be formulated which brings out creativity and inventive problem solving decision and which assist in the long term. Positive conflict results in situations that favor cohesive co-existence of co-workers and the general operations in an organization. Negative conflict is a term used to refer to a conflict that results in undesired tendencies in the organization for instance if the conflict wasn’t resolved fully and so the involved parties are angered and there are possibilities of frequent clashes, nobody is held responsible for the conflict and in long run there is inefficiency in the organization. Conflict in an organization emanates from scarcity of resources, differing objectives and views, breakdown in communication, clashes in beliefs and views, and varying methods of approach.
In an organization setting, managers apply different strategies to manage the conflict levels. Some managers just down play the conflict, sit back ad lets it happen. Some decide to listen to the demands of the conflict and accommodate them as they are. Another strategy to resolve the conflict is by agreeing to shift grounds and negotiate to the best acceptable solution. Some conflicts are also best managed by competing while others call for collaborating (Marques, 2010).
Apart from managing conflicts that have already erupted, it is important for a manager to work towards preventing the conflict from happening. This is done by using certain strategies to prevent conflict. A manager might decide to work on team-building amongst the employees. If the conflict is brought by differences amongst the workers, the best strategy would be offering training on diversity. This helps the employees to understand themselves and how they form the prejudice and stereotypes. Their individual strengths are maximized by being put into proper use in the organization processes. Another strategy to prevent conflict is having open communication. This is done by organizing regular meeting with the employees where they are allowed to air their issues. The employees could also be allowed to provide feedback to the management which assists in understanding the issues they may have.
Another strategy is subjecting the staff to conflict management training. Here they are taught the ways and means to handle conflict when it arises and advocating or solving it constructively to avoid unnecessary tussles. Resource allocation is another way to avert conflict. Here the management devices new criteria for distributing the available resources and acquiring more resources. Let the process of allocation available resources be fair and transparent and display professionalism in the process by involving key players (Quirke, 1996).
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