- Finding An Acceptable Compromise
Negotiation skills help you to resolve
situations where what you want conflicts
with someone else’s interests. As
we discussed with in the assertiveness skills
section, there are wrong ways of handling
these situations: With an aggressive approach,
you could seek to overpower the other person
to give what you want. This is clearly damaging
to subsequent teamwork. With a passive approach,
you could simply give in to the other person’s
wishes. This is clearly not good for you.
The aim of negotiation is to explore the
situation, and to find a solution that is
acceptable to both people.
Different Styles for Different
There are different styles of negotiation,
depending on circumstances. Where you do
not expect to deal with people ever again,
and you do not need their goodwill, it may
be appropriate to play hardball. Here you
may seek to win a negotiation, while the
other person losing out. Many people go
through this when they buy or sell a house,
which is why house buying can be such a
confrontational and unpleasant experience.
Similarly, where there is a great deal
at stake in a negotiation (for example,
in large sales negotiations), then it may
be appropriate to prepare in detail, and
use gamesmanship to gain advantage.
These approaches are usually wrong for
resolving disputes within a team. If one
person plays hardball, then this puts the
other person at a disadvantage. Similarly,
using tricks and manipulation during a negotiation
can severely undermine trust, damaging subsequent
teamwork. While a manipulative person may
not get caught if negotiation is infrequent,
this is not the case when people work together
on a day-by-day basis. Honesty and openness
are the best policies in team-based negotiation.
Preparing for a successful
Depending on the scale of the disagreement,
a level of preparation may be appropriate
for conducting a successful negotiation.
For small disagreements, excessive preparation
can be counter-productive because it takes
time that is better focused on reaching
team goals. It can also be seen as manipulative
because just as it strengthens your position,
it weakens the other person’s.
If a major disagreement needs to be resolved,
preparing thoroughly is warranted, and worthwhile.
Think through the following points before
you start negotiating:
- Goals: What do you
want to get out of the negotiation? What
do you expect the other person to want?
- Trading: What do you
and the other person have that you can
trade? What do you and the other person
have that the other might want? What might
you each be prepared to give away?
- Alternatives: If you
don’t reach agreement with him or
her, what alternatives do you have? Are
these good or bad alternatives? How much
does it matter if you do not reach agreement?
Does failure to reach an agreement cut
you out of future opportunities? What
alternatives might the other person have?
- The relationship:
What is the history of the relationship?
Could or should this history impact the
negotiation? Will there be any hidden
issues that may influence the negotiation?
How will you handle these?
- Expected outcomes:
What outcome will people be expecting
from this negotiation? What has the outcome
been in the past, and what precedents
have been set?
- The consequences:
What are the consequences for you of winning
or losing this negotiation? What are the
consequences for the other person?
- Power: Who has what
power in the relationship? Who controls
resources? Who stands to lose the most
if agreement isn’t reached? What
power does the other person have to deliver
what you hope for?
- Possible solutions: Based
on all of the considerations, what possible
compromises might there be?
Style is critical…
The best approach for negotiation within
a team is to adopt a win-win approach, i.e.
one in which both parties feel positive
about the situation when the negotiation
is concluded. This helps to maintain a positive
working relationship afterwards.
This governs the style of the negotiation.
Histrionics and displays of emotion are
clearly inappropriate because they undermine
the rational basis of the negotiation and
bring a manipulative aspect to it.
Despite this, emotion can be an important
subject of discussion. For a team to function
effectively, the emotional needs of team
members must be fairly met. If emotion is
not discussed where needed, the agreement
reached can be unsatisfactory and temporary.
Be as detached as possible when discussing
your own emotions. Perhaps it would be best
to discuss your emotions as if they belonged
to someone else.
The negotiation itself is a careful exploration
of your position and the other person’s
position, with the goal of finding a mutually
acceptable compromise that gives you both
as much of what you want as possible. Note
that the other person may quite often have
very different goals from the ones you expect!
In an ideal situation, you will find that
the other person wants what you are prepared
to give, and that you are prepared to give
what the other person wants.
If this is not the case, and one person
must give way, then it is fair for this
person to try to negotiate some form of
compensation for doing so. The scale of
this compensation will often depend on the
many of the factors we discussed above.
Ultimately, both sides should feel comfortable
with the final solution if the agreement
is to truly be considered a win-win agreement.
The next technique, the formal setting
of team rules, comes into play where
both assertiveness and negotiation have
failed to build good working relationships...