This week, I attended the WIN Summit focusing on Women’s Insights on the Art of Negotiation. Strong negotiation skills are essential for parents involved in the special education process. I hope these tips will help you prepare for future meetings:
1) Be confident, says Michele A. Roberts, the Executive Director of the National Basketball Players’ Association. That’s difficult when you are facing a group of professionals who are conversant in the language and terms that are foreign to you, the parent.
2) Face your fear fiercely, advises Beth Fisher-Yoshida of Columbia University’s Negotiation Conflict and Resolution Program. Fear and intimidation will not enable you to engage in all of the steps necessary to advocate for your child. Engage in self-reflection to figure out what you are telling yourself that undermines your confidence.
3) Prepare. Greater familiarity with your legal rights, evaluation terminology and the language used by educators will increase your confidence and will permit you to be a stronger advocate. Understand your school district’s position; whether they are adversarial or seemingly collaborative, the priority for school districts tends to be preserving resources, personnel and money. For you, it’s personal. For the district, it’s business.
4) Remain calm! Emotional or heated exchanges will not serve your advocacy goals.
There are ample resources on the internet and retaining a trusted advisor can help you navigate the process and reduce your stress.