Negotiation 2: Approaches to negotiation
Approaches to negotiation
This article describes alternative approaches to the process of negotiation.
Styles of negotiating need to vary according to the circumstances and the people involved. Most negotiations will be a mixture of the collaborative and competitive approaches. It is generally more productive to steer the proceedings towards collaboration rather than competition.
Before we look at these approaches in more detail, let’s look at the roles that you might take on in a negotiation. It is possible to identify five, each of which has particular strengths.
The factual negotiator
- knowing all the facts related to the negotiation;
- asking factual questions;
- covering all bases to ensure that no facts are left out; and,
- providing information.
Factual negotiators tend to leave aside emotional issues such as “face” - a person’s desire for a positive identity. (People like to feel and look good and will react in a hostile manner to attacks that make them feel or look bad.) They can get most involved in details about the negotiation.
The relational negotiator
- establishing relationships with the other party;
- being sensitive to the other party’s emotional issues;
- building trust; and,
- perceiving the position of the other party.
Relational negotiation can lose sight of the reasons for negotiation and the objectives in their anxiety to build relationships. They can also give away information without realising it. Their sensitivity can make them become emotional and lose perspective.
The intuitive negotiator
- coming up with unexpected solutions or ways of approach;
- sorting the wheat from the chaff - the key issues from the irrelevant detail;
- visualising the implications of a proposal;
- accurately guessing the progress of negotiation; and,
- seeing the “big picture”.
Intuitive negotiators can be dangerous because of their wildness and lack of discipline.
The logical negotiator
- set the rules of the negotiation;
- develop an agenda;
- argue a logical rather than emotional way; and,
- adapt their position to meet changing situations.
The logical negotiator can sometimes see the process of negotiation as being more important than the content or outcome.
The lead negotiator
Finally, all these approaches or roles need to be co-ordinated by the lead negotiator, who is responsible for all of the above roles and who makes the final decision about strategy, etc.
It is likely that you will exhibit some or all of these roles in your own negotiations. If your intuitive negotiator is strongest, you will need to develop discipline. If your logical negotiator is most prominent, you may need to develop relationship building skills.
Negotiation is a means of arriving at a solution to a problem in a manner which ideally results in an outcome which is of benefit to all parties; in other words, a win/win situation. Everybody is happy, and as a result of your different needs and objectives, it is possible for everyone to leave the table with substantial gains and inconsequential losses. The trick is to trade things which cost you little but which have a high value to the other party.
Negotiation calls for assertive behaviour. You should collaborate to achieve an agreement satisfactory to all concerned. If you deal with an aggressor, someone who always wants to win at all costs, then the result would be win/lose. The danger of taking this stance is that it may lead to a complete lack of co-operation - the other party dislikes and distrusts the aggressor’s style, and so will not bargain - so that the final outcome is lose/lose. Needless to say this must be avoided, otherwise the process becomes pointless.
The following pointers will help you when planning your strategy and conducting your negotiation:
- Be assertive.
- Respect the other party - they have objectives, too.
- Open with a realistic offer, be neither too greedy nor sell yourself too cheaply.
- Work out your objectives in advance - this makes it easier for you to compromise if that becomes necessary.
- Always trade - don’t give anything for nothing.
- If you need time to think, take it - ask for a short break and recap your notes. Don’t be pushed into a decision you haven’t thought through.
- Make sure that the outcome is mutually beneficial and that all parties leave with a feeling of well-being; that way they’ll be happy to do business with you again.