Negotiating successfully involves using thoughtful methods and processes. It is important to understand that the context will vary among each negotiation. Broadly, this is because norms and expectations often differ among those involved. Taking into account key factors (I.e. policies, rules, relationships, culture, etc.) is useful when it comes comprehension and making precise adjustments and strategic plans. It’s also beneficial to begin by determining what your goals are coming into the negotiation. Have you determined your core interests and needs and thought about what are you willing to give up for them? What about your bottom line, if you have one at all? Similarly, do you anticipate counter offers — what about your counters?
There are many ways in which a negotiation may proceed with specific processes, especially depending upon the styles of those who are doing the negotiating. Certain facilitation strategies can mitigate such techniques in some cases. Overall, we strive for principled negotiation — an interest-based approach that helps all parties maximize their goals via creativity and mutually shared outcomes*.
However, we understand that the following method cannot always be the guiding process structure in negotiations, especially if one or more parties do not buy-in. Coercive bargaining tactics are still employed in today’s world. In response, we’ve found that identifying common ground beforehand can be one useful way to help parties create stronger relationships and cooperation. This is why we set our sights on producing clear process and communication between parties. These areas are worthy of critical emphasis in that it is easy to get distracted or derailed. The pre-negotiation phase highlighted above is just one critical part to facilitating a productive negotiation. We help parties move forward by invoking informative openings and accurate information-sharing while respecting and upholding confidentiality. While a negotiation can seem hostile and confusing at times, employing practices that guide it towards a process of trust, clarity, and reason is our focus.
Personal characteristics and values can significantly influence certain styles of negotiation. In general, personalities often play a large role in how a negotiation will unfold. They may drive different techniques and attitudes that trigger both productive and unproductive emotional reactions. We want to help you think ahead in order to build solution-oriented communication and planning. For example, it takes preparation and strategy to deal with diametrically opposed styles like competitive and avoiding. Our goal is to help you establish accommodation and create an atmosphere of cooperation and comprising.
Many negotiations move ahead and make significant progress towards finding a solution that works for all involved only to fail when it comes time to finalize it. There are many reasons why this can happen. For instance, this commonly occurs when a party or parties leave the table feeling deceived. Principled negotiation is just one way in which this outcome can be avoided. Further, it is beneficial to implement thorough inquisitiveness throughout the process. Good questioning can be an useful for gathering general information, identifying interests and needs, and encouraging parties to discover areas of common ground. Additionally, as negotiating facilitators, we find that it is valuable in some cases to offer advice on determining soft or hard closing offers, establishing a backdoor for reparations, and using many other techniques to secure not only agreement, but ultimately, lasting commitment.
CJ Clayton Jr.
Revised on 10/16/2018
Helpful Resources and Contributing Ideas:
* Fisher, Roger and William Ury. 2011. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. New York, NY: Penguin Books.
Spangle, Michael L. and Myra W. Isenhart. 2003. Negotiation: Communication for Diverse Settings. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Shell, Richard G. 2006. Bargaining for Advantage. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Penguin.