Negotiation II--Learning the In's and Out's

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Last week’s Tip examined the concept of negotiation, and hopefully our readers have reflected on its importance professionally and in everyday life. This week’s Tip also focuses on negotiation, and among other things, stresses that it is indeed a learned skill. Like other skills (such as leadership), many pharmacists are under the false impression that such skills are something one is simply “born with”.

Clay-Williams et al examine the teaching and learning of negotiation as an essential skill for clinicians in a competitive health care system.1 They discuss how corporate firms have long recognized the value of skillful negotiators and invested in training programs to increase the negotiation skills of their managers. They state further that negotiation skill training aims to improve engagement and collaboration between healthcare professionals, and is an important asset among health care providers, yet clinicians receive little or no training in negotiation as part of their medical training. They lament that negotiation skills are often thought of merely as conflict resolution; however, while conflict resolution is important, it is only one of the many problems to which negotiation skills can be successfully applied. In everyday work, clinicians must negotiate with each other to clarify roles and responsibilities and to distribute resources among patient care teams. If this is accomplished effectively, conflict resolution is unlikely to be required. Further, a white paper from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), a Framework for Safe, Reliable and Effective Care, identified negotiation as one of the five components of healthcare culture (alongside leadership, accountability, psychological safety, and teamwork and communication). The authors’ study employed an intervention to improve negotiation skills for clinicians and management staff at a tertiary hospital. They characterized participants according to the style as per the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) as accommodating, compromising, competing, avoiding, borrowing, avoiding, or collaborating (ie, creating a “win-win”). They found that participants generally reported positive affective and utility reactions to the training, and attempted to implement at least some of the skills in the workplace. The main enabler was provision of a negotiation toolkit to assist in preparing and conducting negotiations. The main barrier was lack of time to reflect on the principles and prepare for upcoming negotiations.

Pharmacists and pharmacy managers can learn negotiation skills and put them in place in practice. It behooves the manager not just to improve their own negotiation skills but those of their employees. Doing so does not require a tremendous investment of resources.  

Additional information about Negotiation Skills can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e. If you or your institution subscribes to AccessPharmacy, use or create your MyAccess Profile to sign-in to Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 4e. If your institution does not provide access, ask your medical librarian about subscribing.

1Clay-Williams R, Johnson A, Lane P, et al. Collaboration in a competitive health care system: Negotiation 101 for clinicians. J Health Organ Manage. 2018;32:263-278.

Shane Desselle

Professor of Social and Behavioral Pharmacy, Touro University California

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Go to the profile of Shane Desselle
10 months ago

Do you often find yourself at the “losing end” of negotiations? What are the outcomes of that? What will you do to change that moving forward?