The Negotiator Magazine

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2. Develop trust by listening.

A client of mine with a network of dental offices set up a series of procedures for his employees to follow when dealing with patients. But his employees refused to follow the rules. My client took an adversarial, disrespectful position — "I'm the boss, do as I say" was his attitude. He scolded, threatened and even fired one person as an example to the others. Nothing worked until we convinced the client to show his employees respect by listening. So he set up a meeting in which the staff could air their grievances and make suggestions for improving the rules. My client finally heard what they had to say, and together they created a new set of office procedures that the employees were happy to follow — and that ended up being much more effective.

3. Provide clear objectives.

One leading cause of workplace stress is confusion over expectations. When employees have clear guidelines for job objectives, this confusion disappears. The best manager I ever had would first describe the task and then give me options for how to accomplish it in my own way. It was the most productive period in my corporate career. Effective managers do not say, "Do it this way because I say so." They describe the objective, telling subordinates what to do but not how to do it. If an employee's skill set is in sync with her position, and she understands her objectives, she will get the job done. The manager's function is to provide clear options that lead to the desired result.

4. Involve subordinates in decision making.

Affection-based managers make subordinates feel that they are part of the decision-making process. Because they are involved in the process, they have a stake in the outcome. They can later see how they contributed to the end product, and they enjoy a sense of completion. Workers who feel that they are an integral part of an operation are far more productive than those who do not. Employees who are able to see the fruits of their labor and ideas derive a strong sense of satisfaction from their jobs.

5. Give constructive criticism.

People who manage by fear are often abusive in their application of criticism. In adversarial management, criticism is a tool for bullying. The affection-based manager, however, uses constructive criticism — criticism that encourages you to correct the mistake without insulting or offending. Sometimes criticism is called for, but if it is delivered in an objective, affirming and kind way, it will make employees want to do better in the future, not feel shame about their mistakes.

About the Author:

Ed Brodow is a motivational speaker, bestselling author, and negotiation guru on PBS, ABC News, Fox News, and Inside Edition. He is the author of Negotiation Boot Camp: How to Resolve Conflict, Satisfy Customers, and Make Better Deals (Doubleday). For more information on his keynotes and seminars, call 831-372-7270 or e-mail, and visit

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September 2007