How to come to an agreement with (almost) everyone in five steps

In his new book “Happy Happy – How you can agree with (almost) everyone in just five steps”, Lars-Johan Åge shows how successful conflict resolution can be achieved and how it leads to greater satisfaction. Here is an exclusive excerpt from the introduction to the book:

Five steps to happy-happy

The success factors comprise five steps and form the core of the book that you are currently holding in your hand. If you follow the individual steps, your chances of being heard with your ideas and suggestions increase. But they also help you to work together with people who see the world differently than you do and to find a common path – always in such a way that everyone involved is satisfied. I call that happy-happy, not win-win. But more about the difference later. Positive psychology defines happiness not only as “feeling joy” – being happy can also mean that we are satisfied with something and experience it as meaningful. We can find out during negotiation or – as we shall see – later, after the agreement has been reached, and we can see the result in a larger context. This book devotes a chapter to each step that describes how it works. But first I want to explain why it is so valuable to come to an agreement with others and how happy-happy differs from win-win. I also want to briefly outline how all of this relates to the way our brains work. The five steps are:

  • Have a good feeling – right from the start. It is much easier to come to an agreement with others when we are in a good mood. This applies to everyone, including those with whom you negotiate.
  • Think about it. Prepare yourself well so that you are clear about what is important to you – and what expectations the person with whom you want to come to an agreement has. Play through different alternatives.
  • Build a relationship. Connect with each other by showing interest and understanding.
  • Find the right words. Avoid haggling, bring the conversation to a constructive level.
  • Have a plan B. You need that when you get into a situation where you cannot make progress.

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The characteristics behind the success

What qualities do we need now, if it is up to the practitioners as well as us scientists, in order to reach the goal successfully? Here is a summary. If you follow the five steps, you will find that they will help you with it …

  • to find the right feeling and the right attitude before you start the conversation;
  • to keep that good feeling even if you hear something that you don’t like;
  • to understand what you and your counterpart actually want;
  • knowing what to say if things don’t go as planned;
  • to recognize which phrases you should use and which ones you should avoid at all costs;
  • knowing how to deal with those who do not want to cooperate;
  • to know how to produce a result that everyone is happy with in the end.

An important aspect of the five steps is that they focus on the path to the goal. When we negotiate with someone, it’s usually not a one-off affair, but rather a lengthy process. And that’s part of the secret.

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