6 Smart Ways Female Founders Resolve Conflicts

Strong female leaders--never get into it like a guy. Conflict resolution expert Elizabeth Clemants shares how.

By Elizabeth Clemants

Women and mothers negotiate daily with their children, spouses, and bosses–but if they are imitating a man’s negotiating style, it’s a mistake. There is a more powerful way.

Throughout my 18-year career of helping resolve disputes as a professional mediator, I have seen first-hand how women and men negotiate differently. But contrary to the stereotype that men are better negotiators than women, I believe women have the natural instincts to win most disputes. Tweet this!

image003Here are six techniques our mediators use at the Small Business Arbitration Center of New York to help resolve everything from tenant/landlord disputes to small business conflicts. As you’ll see, most of these techniques are inherent to women, and when applied in nearly any situation, will give you an edge.

  1.  Focus on interests, not positions. Don’t state what you want, state why you want it. By expressing the motivation for your position, it will uncover many new potential solutions, not just the one.
  2. Help the other side save face. Allow those on the other side to meet you in the middle by opening the door for them. Men especially might view compromise as a form of losing. By reframing the circumstances in a way that makes everyone look reasonable—the other side is more likely to accept your side.
  3. Establish credibility by first reflecting what you heard the other person say.  Social science proves women are better listeners than men and by showing you understand the other’s point of view, the other side will be more open to hearing yours. Active Listening is the cornerstone of any negotiation. Women are more likely to hear early on the viewpoint of the other, and therefore get to the heart of the negotiation more quickly.active listening 2
  4. Powerful questions will open up the conversation to new solutions.  Assumptions about motivation, interests, or history can block a solid negotiated agreement.  Admit when you don’t know or don’t understand where the other person is coming from. Women usually feel more comfortable admitting they don’t understand, and therefore can resolve misunderstanding more quickly. Ask a question that targets an assumption. This pointed questioning allows the conversation to go deeper, bringing more potential solutions.
  5. Concern yourself with what the other wants.  If those on the other side see that you are invested in mutual gain, they will be more open to giving you what you want.
  6. Pay attention to body language. Roughly 90% of communication is tone and body language. Tweet this!  Women are typically more adept at reading nonverbal cues, and therefore often more able to see the undercurrent developing in a communication—giving them an edge in negotiation.

headshotGuest FEI contributor Elizabeth Clemants is the founder and CEO of the Small Business Arbitration Center of New York, which helps small businesses resolve conflict without going to court. All decisions are final with a flat rate and predetermined time limit to resolving the dispute. You can read more at SBACNYC.com.

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