Negotiation is unavoidable and integral part of our day-to day life. While other people believe that some people were born negotiators, Lewiki (2010) does believe that negotiation is a practice that anybody can master. Negotiation involves learning to analyse situations and to communicating effectively. With effective planning and target setting, most negotiators can achieve their objectives; without them, results occur more by chance than by negotiator effort. According to Lewicki (2010) there are Ten negotiation strategies that when employed properly by a negotiator, then the outcome to the negotiation to will be favourable.
Most importantly a negotiator should be well prepared. A more prepared negotiator will have an upper hand in the negotiation process. They will be able to analyse the scenario, understand the other party’s offer more vividly and in the end achieve the required goals of their negotiating. Preparation for negotiation should be done before the negotiation process not during the process. During preparation, the negotiator will set their standards by understanding what they expect to come out with during the negotiation process. The significance of this negotiation strategy is that before undertaking any negotiation, I will have to equip myself with the relevant facts so as to enable me to have an upper hand in the negotiation process. Last month I spotted good pair of shoes in the local market. Next day I visited the salesman without having any idea of the market price of the shoes. After buying the shoes, I realized latter that what I paid was far above the market price. If I could have used this strategy, I could have bought the same shoes at a fair price.
A negotiator should also diagnose the fundamental structure of the negotiation. Negotiation can either be fundamentally distributive, integrative or a blend of the two. A good negotiator should identify which kind of negotiation among the three they are facing. With such knowledge the negotiator will be able to use the matching strategies to ensure a favourable outcome from the negotiation process (Lewicki, 2011). A fundamentally distributive negotiation will result to a situation where one party of negotiation fails to gain from the process. On the other hand, integrative negotiation may fail to yield much. This can be witnessed in situations where one party asks a question or states an important fact on the matter of negotiation and the other part fails to respond. This can be an effort by the other party to brash away the facts thereby winning in a negotiation (Ury, 1997). It is therefore significant to note that many negotiations will be a blend of both integrative and distributive elements. In such case, the negotiator should take keen steps when transitioning between the two phases of negotiation. Poor transitioning may lead to confusion of the other party hence standoff by the other party.
A negotiator should also have the knowledge to identify and work with the best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA). BATNA is the option which is most likely to be chosen in a case where the parties fail to come into common consensus. The importance of understanding BATNA by a negotiator is therefore cannot be gainsaid. Failure by a negotiator to properly understand BATNA will lead to a situation where the other party ends up pushing the negotiator aggressively to an extent that the yields to a consensus which will prove with time that was of disadvantage to the negotiator (Ury, 1997). This strategy is significant to me in the sense that it is advantageous to me when my potential terms of agreement are better than BATNA of the other party. In my future negotiations, I will endeavour to at least come out with the BATNA rather than losing it all in the process. I will always endeavour to achieve the best out of negotiation, but if I fail I will go for the BATNA.
The main aim of negotiation is not to reach a common agreement per se. What is most important for a negotiator is that the outcome of a negotiation is more of a benefit than a detriment to them. By understanding the same, a negotiator will always be willing to walk away when they feel that the process is not yielding anything worthwhile. They can also walk away when they feel that the negotiation process has gone too offensive. This is the point where the negotiator reflects on their set targets during the planning stage. A good negotiator should never take their eyes off the goals of the negotiation they have set during the planning stage (Ury, 1997). The significance of this strategy to me is that throughout my future negotiation process, I will consistently make regular comparison with my set targets. I will then evaluate the position of the negotiation comparing it with the set targets. When I realize that the position of the negotiation is far off the target, I will therefore have to choose between walking away and BATNA. When I choose to walk away, then the negotiation process will have to be halted.
A good negotiator should also master keys to paradoxes of negotiation. A paradox is an existence of two conflicting or antagonizing ideas. For example, a situation may pose a dilemma on whether to stick to your principles or become resilient to the flow. It is important to note that a good negotiator should always have their targets and principles set upon which they reflect during the negotiation process. On the other hand, effective negotiation requires flexibility and resilience to the flow of facts. A good negotiator should be flexible enough to understand that situations may change thereby a need to adjust. A good negotiator will therefore amalgamate the issue of principles but still yield to the fact that they can compromise to enable a more mutual benefit out of a negotiation.
Sometimes, a negotiator faces a dilemma on whether to be honest with the other party of just stay opaque. Being honest will enable an effective negotiation as well as ensuring that the reputation of the negotiator remains untainted. On the other hand being too open will give an advantage to the other party. They will easily analyse you and even lead to a negative negotiation outcome. A good negotiator therefore appreciates that the level of openness will depend on the other party. As the negotiation process continues, negotiators tend to build more trust for each other (Docherty, 2007). As a result, they become more and more open to each other. However, there is some information that can never be revealed. I can actually apply this strategy in the negotiation process that I’m going through right. Currently I’m selling out my car. I bought the car in the three years ago from a friend who is a car dealer. Being that he is my friend, he sold me the car at a substantially lower price. I have been wondering whether or not I should be honest with my prospective buyer on the price I bought the car. I can therefore use this strategy by not dwelling on how much I bought it but telling him its fair market price by the time I bought it.
It is important for a negotiator considers the intangibles and be aware of their effects. These intangibles may include winning the negotiation, evading loss, looking tough, being reasonable among others. For instance, when you go to purchase a good and the dealer offers you a substantially lower price, lower than the market price, then as a negotiator you should be worry of the intangible factor. The car may have been stolen hence the need to dispose it faster. On the other hand, the dealer might have won a promotion and he is paid in form of a car and he is willing to sell it off to for liquid cash (Docherty, 2007). It is significant that in my future negotiation I should therefore be aware that the intangible factors can influence my own behaviour as well as the other party’s behaviour during a negotiation process.
A good negotiator should also be aware of, or be able to actively manage coalitions. Coalition in a negotiation can either be against you, for you or a loose undefined one which may turn up to be either for your or not for you. To be a good negotiator, you must know how to coalitions to ensure a favourable outcome from a negotiation. And for coalitions against you, a negotiator should know their presence and work towards averting them. The significance of this strategy is that whenever I’m to undertake any negotiation I should also be aware of loose coalition and grab them for my advantage before the other party grabs them (Docherty, 2007). In my future negotiation endeavours I will ensure that the other party does not gain from a loose coalition.
Reputation is important to every sane human being. However much a negotiator is endeavouring for a favourable outcome in a negotiation, they must always do it with a moderation to ensure that their reputation is never tainted. Reputation is very important to build, but very difficult to build and very easy to break. Once a reputation is broken, it takes a great deal to repair it. It is therefore of the importance that, any negotiator, during their negotiations they must always ensure that their reputation is clean. A negotiator with a reputation of dishonesty always has difficulties in negotiating as the other parties very little trust on them. A negotiator, on the other hand should always be weary of dishonest parties. A negotiator should be vigilant of the dirty tricks that can be employed by the other party to win a negotiation.
It is also important to conduct negotiation with rationality and fairness. Rationality and fairness is always relative and people tend to define them in a way that tends to benefit them. A good negotiator should always appreciate that fairness should be two sided, themselves and the other party. From this strategy I have learnt that in my future negotiations, before I demand for fairness I should question my own definition of fairness and rationality, find an external benchmark on fairness and rationality and understand the definition of fairness by the other party to ensure a fair dialogue and a rational consensus.
With continuous learning and experience, a negotiator optimizes on their negotiation skills. With advance negotiation skills, a negotiator can easily unearth dirty tricks employed by the other party to gain more form a negotiation process. A vigilant negotiator will easily recognize the tactic, raise an explicit issue and negotiate over its legitimacy by the other party. These dirty tricks may fall under three min categories: deliberate dishonesty, psychosomatic warfare and positional pressure strategies. A good negotiator should be able to identify these dirty tricks and avert them to their advantage.
One common tactic is the use of phony facts. This involves making false and deceptive statement in a manner that the other party my feel that those are the fact. In this case, the other party may come up with a well courted lie that any average person will be deceived. One rule of life that I always uphold is that “you should never trust anybody, never”. By being sceptical I can always be able to establish a dishonest party raise the issue or use the facts for their advantage.
Another tactic is where the other party sends a person who does not have the required authority to negotiate. This can be used so that in case the other party fails to get what they want from a negotiation, they can claim an absolute deniability. Having known this trick, my first and the most important step in any negotiation is to question the authority of the person I am negotiating with. What I always do is to ask them how much authority they have on that negotiation. Whenever I question their authority I always prefer to halt the negotiation process and demand to negotiate with other people who have the authority.
Another dirty trick is creating a stressful environment for the other negotiator. The other party can deliberately create a stressful environment to intimidate you into making irrational decisions. This can be done by manipulating the physical environment so that the negotiator feels under stress. With the knowledge of this trick, I will always endeavour to evaluate the physical environment to establish the course of stress. When I realize that the other party is manipulating the environment to initiate stress, I should then raise the issue. A change of sitting position of an adjournment to a different location can be an option.
Another dirty tactic is the use of threats, intimidation and coercion. They can also employ bullying and other types of pressure to force you into yielding to their demands. The best response to this is to insist on merits. A good negotiator should not yield to threats, but should respond in a way to show their assertiveness. The other party can also use “the good-guy/bad-guy tactic. Here one party hurl threats and intimidations while the other plays nice and acts embarrassed. A good negotiator should identify this tactic and attack the reasonable guy demanding to know their principles on the matter of negotiation.
In some cases the other parties may make extreme demands. They may be using this tactic so that after a long negotiation all parties conclude on what is more beneficial to them. An instance can be when you went to buy a cloth and the salesperson quotes twice the open market price of the cloth. Their intention is that after a long negotiation both the parties will settle on a price which is slightly higher than the open market price. To handle such trick, I should demand to know the rationality behind the demands. I should ask the other party to justify their demands. By so doing, the other party will look ridiculous and adjust their demand to my favour.
In his article, “The Potency of Interest-based Negotiation”, Katz (2006) conducted assessment on negotiation strategies in Sandy Creek Community School District. The aim of the assessment was to identify the most relevant negotiation strategy that can be employed to solve the unending wrangles between the Sandy Creek Community School District and the teacher’ association. From 1980s through to 1990s, the school district and the teacher’s association have endeavoured in vain to come up with a contract negotiation strategy that will put an end to disagreements. By the end of the training and the survey, 100% of the respondents agreed that they will prefer interest-based negotiation to position-based approach, Katz (2006). Interest-based negotiation approach is significant in that it cultivate the attitude of “win-win bargaining”. By using this approach both the parties will come out of the negotiation process happy. From the article, I have collected that in my future negotiations for contract, I will employ the interest-based approach. By so doing, I believe that the negotiation process will end with a satisfactory result for both the parties.
Lewicki, R. J., Barry, B., & Saunders, D. M. (2011). Essentials of negotiation. McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
Katz, Nail. The potency of interest based negotiation. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2006.
Ury, William. Getting past no: Negotiating with difficult people. Random House, 1992.
Docherty, Jayne Seminare. The little book of strategic negotiation: Negotiating during turbulent times. Good Books, 2005.