The following tips come from David W. Johnson’s textbook Reaching Out, 9th ed.:
Step One: Describe What You Want
Use “I, me, my, or mine” language instead of blaming the other person or party.
Step Two: Describe Your Feelings
Do not expect others to read your mind. If you want others to understand how you feel, you must tell them. Expressing your feelings will also lead to more stable agreements, as the other person or party hears how much this means to you.
Step Three: Exchange Reasons for Positions
Focus on what you and the other person or party really wants, not on the specific positions you brought to the table. There may be a way of getting what you both want that is different from the exact position you first held.
Step Four: Understand the Other’s Perspective
You must listen carefully in order to understand the other person’s or party’s reasons for what he/she/they desire. “Perspective taking is the ability to understand how a situation appears to another person and how that person is reacting cognitively and emotionally to the situation” (Johnson, 276).
Step Five: Invent Options for Mutual Gain
Negotiate several possible agreements. Get creative. There is more than one way for both persons or parties to get what they want.
Step Six: Reach a Constructive Agreement
“Constructive agreements are those that:
1. Maximize joint benefits (are fair to all participants and are based on principles).
2. Strengthen participants’ relationship and ability to work together cooperatively.
3. Improve participants’ ability to resolve future conflicts constructively.
4. Benefit the community as a whole” (Johnson, 271).
If this process does not work the first time, try, try again.