In any negotiation, the following three elements should always be taken into account:
- Interpersonal Skills
All negotiation is strongly influenced by underlying attitudes to the process itself, for example attitudes to the issues and personalities involved in the particular case or attitudes linked to personal needs for recognition. Always be aware that:
- Negotiation is not an arena for the realisation of individual achievements.
- There can be resentment of the need to negotiate by those in authority.
- Certain features of negotiation may influence a person’s behaviour, for example some people may become defensive.
There are many interpersonal skills required in the process of negotiation which are useful in both formal settings and in less formal one-to-one situations. Reference to the following skills, as well as others, are to be found on Skills You Need:
- Reflecting, Clarifying and Summarising
- Problem Solving
- Decision Making
- Stress Management
- Dealing with Aggression
The more knowledge you possess of the issues in question, the greater your participation in the process of negotiation. In other words, good preparation is essential.
The way issues are negotiated must be understood as negotiating will require different methods in different situations.
Negotiation in Action
Negotiation is a means of resolving differences between people. In the process of negotiation, not only are different opinions are taken into account, but also individual needs, aims, interests and differences in background and culture.
WIN-LOSE (Bargaining) Versus the WIN-WIN Approach
Negotiation is sometimes seen in terms of ‘getting your own way’, ‘driving a hard bargain’ or ‘beating off the opposition’. While in the short term bargaining may well achieve the aims for one side, it is also a WIN-LOSE approach. This means that while one side wins, the other loses and this outcome may well damage future relationships between the parties. It also increases the likelihood of relationships breaking down, of people walking out or refusing to deal with the ‘winners’ again, and the process ending in a bitter dispute.
WIN-LOSE bargaining is probably the most familiar form of negotiating that is undertaken. Individuals decide what they want, then each side takes up an extreme position, such as asking the other side for much more than they expect to get. Through haggling – the giving and making of concessions – a compromise is reached, and each side’s hope is that this compromise will be in their favour. A typical example is haggling over the price of a car:
“What do you want for it?”
“I couldn’t let it go for under £2,000.”
“I’ll give you £1,000.”
“You must be joking.”
“Well, £1,100 and that’s my limit.”
“£1,900” … “£1,300” … “£1,700” ... “£1,500” … “Done.”
Both parties need assertiveness skills to be able to barter or haggle effectively.
While this form of bargaining may be acceptable in the used car market, for most situations it has drawbacks. These can have serious consequences if applied to social situations. For example:
- It may serve to turn the negotiation into a conflict situation, and can serve to damage any possible long-term relationship.
- It is essentially dishonest – both sides try to hide their real views and mislead the other.
- The compromise solution may have not been the best possible outcome – there may have been some other unthought-of agreement that was possible and would better serve both parties.
- Agreement is less likely to be reached as each side has made a public commitment to a particular position and feel they must defend it, even though they know it to be an extreme position originally.
While there are times when bargaining is an appropriate means of reaching an agreement, such as when buying a used car, generally a more sensitive approach is preferable. Negotiation concerning other people’s lives is perhaps best dealt with by using an approach which takes into account the effect of the outcome on thoughts, emotions and subsequent relationships.