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The Art of Project Management by Scott Berkun

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11.5. Conflict resolution and negotiation

"What should worry us is not the number of people that oppose us, but how good their reasons are for doing so."

—Alain de Botton

Settling differences is something managers must do all the time. The fact that negotiation appears only in this chapter doesn't imply that having to resolve disagreements means something has gone wrong. On the contrary, a healthy and vibrant team should have enough ideas and opinions that disagreements occur regularly. As long as people are debating the merits of different ideas and treating each other with respect, disagreements provide alternative points of view and actually lead to progress. The important things then are how people treat each other when they disagree, how those disagreements are resolved, and whether disagreement and debate are converted into positive action.

That said, in times of crisis, the ability to resolve disagreements and negotiate is critically important. You need to be able to find suitable compromises and work difficult situations into mutually beneficial outcomes. By far, the best resource for learning the right attitude and skills to do this is the short book Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher (Penguin Books, 1991).(5) I didn't find this book until later in my career, and in reading it, I found a better understanding of what had gone well, and what went wrong, in all my previous negotiating experiences. I also realized that negotiation took place in many different forms. Sometimes, ...

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