The negotiation process
The process of negotiating actions requires you to do some work before, during and after talking the situation through with your client and all other relevant parties. The following checklist is a guide to negotiating actions.
- Know your agency protocols for negotiating actions while monitoring your client’s progress/situation.
- Know your own work role and its limits.
- Have a clear understanding of your client’s immediate needs and the reason for action.
- Research some possible options relevant to your client’s immediate needs.
- Check out any relevant statutory obligations, e.g. anything that needs to be considered because of a court order or any approaching court appearances that might affect action.
- Prepare everyone involved in negotiations by clearly explaining the purpose and the ground rules of negotiation.
- Decide how you intend to document or record the negotiations.
- Give some thought to potential conflicts and suggestions to overcome any difficulties.
- Maintain an environment that is calm and respectful.
- If needed, set agreed time limits for each negotiation session.
- Focus the discussion on the client’s needs and possible actions, not on the client personally or on individuals.
- Encourage your client and relevant parties to be as practical and specific as possible when discussing goals/outcomes and actions.
- Respect confidentiality and get a Release of Information Authority signed by the client as required.
- Document the information and actions you negotiated.
- Check that the actions you recorded are accurate and reflect what was discussed and agreed upon with those involved.
- Distribute copies of reports/notes/written agreements/action plans to relevant parties.
Sometimes there may be a conflict of interest between you and your client. This means that the client may have a different understanding of their needs and the action that is required than you do. This conflict needs to be addressed sensitively or it may prevent the goals of the action plan from being achieved.
At the first sign of conflict, consult with your supervisor, mentor or another worker.
It is important that you quickly and clearly:
- reiterate those areas that you agree on
- identify the specific area/s of difference
- clarify what is and is not negotiable within the conflict from each person’s point of view
- investigate options for resolving the difference
- identify who can help in the process (other parties, including an advocate for the client).