I attended a workshop on communication run by social worker Sarah Shatz at the Wisconsin Grassroots Festival. She had some excellent conversation guidelines that I took note of:
Conversational guidelines for meetings
- Share from personal experience
- Listen, be curious, and learn
- Experience discomfort
- Connect with your body
- Be aware of what emotions come up
- Be brief to intentionally share space
- Pass if you want to
- Stay engaged and trust the process
- Be courageous and vulnerable
- We are all learners together
- Expect and accept unfinished business
In addition to these conversational guidelines, a participant explained an acronym and concept for negotiating that I appreciated. The term was BATNA, or Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. It apparently derives from a Harvard Business School negotiation tactic. The idea is to enter a negotiation with an idea of the best outcome that can be reached without agreement between negotiating parties. BATNA was brought up in relation to the idea of being 'coopted' by a stakeholder process into agreeing to reduce citizen demands for accountability, either in a pollution scenario or otherwise. The BATNA lets participants keep in mind that there are alternatives to an unwelcome agreement, and that negotiating isn't the only option.
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