The Collins English Dictionary defines negotiation as "a discussion set up or intended to produce a "settlement or agreement." It is a skill everyone uses on a regular basis in daily life; often without realising. A plan to meet friends fo an evening meal for example involves agreeing a time and venue--this is negotiation. As it is the the process of coming to terms with the "other side" and trying to get the best deal possible it is necessary to accept the fact that a conflict of interest does exist. There is an atmosphere of uncertainty until the deal is completed and one side may gain and one may lose relative to their opening position. For this skill to be successfully applied when working with clinical management colleagues, a formal set of guidelines is necessary. In this article I highlight some of the problems which can arise and offer a systematic approach to this difficult but rewarding management activity.
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