different views on how negotiations should be
conducted: whether as an adversarial process, with each side defending its
interests until a mutually acceptable position is forged, or as a process in
which the mutuality of interests is the paramount focus. Each view is discussed
process has become part of the judicial system in common law countries
principally because it was felt to be the most effective way to arrive at the
truth in cases of alleged penal violation. But it is an inappropriate process in
the undertaking of a
business agreement, where cooperation and accommodation are sought.
approach leads to positional bargaining in which each side fiercely defends its
position. Such a contest of will causes anger and resentment, which jeopardize
the ongoing relationship. Bargaining over
positions tends to force each party to extremes for the sake of winning small
concessions. This drags the process out significantly, increasing the time and
cost of arriving at an agreement and reduces the chances of one being reached at
Principled negotiation, or negotiation
on the merits, is a widely accepted method of negotiation. This is the method
advanced by the Harvard Negotiating Project, developed by Roger Fisher and
William Urey and related in their best selling book
Getting to Yes.
In essence, the method calls for negotiators to be
with a goal of reaching a
efficiently and amicably.
It has four basic
separate the people from the problem.
Interests: focus on interests, not
Options: generate a variety of possibilities
before deciding what to do.
Criteria: insist that the result be based on
some objective standard.
The first point
recognizes that positions become identified with egos. Agreement is delayed
because it is difficult to get people to back down. The negotiators need to work
side-by-side and to resolve issues together,
attacking the problem
rather than each other.
Solving People Problems
The second point
is meant to avoid focusing on stated positions when the object of a negotiation
is to satisfy the underlying interests of each party. Looking at the interests
of the parties – that is, to their overall objectives – rather than at a series
of positions makes it easier to reach compromises on the particulars.
The third point is
aimed at avoiding
decisions made under pressure or in a presence of an adversarial negotiator.
Such conditions tend to narrow vision. The same can be said for coming up with
the one right decision. Instead, negotiators from both sides should take time
together to think up a wide range of of solutions that advance shared interests
and/or reconcile differing interests and then, later, jointly choose one. The
parties, in effect, should invent options for mutual gain.
The forth point
has to do with situations in which the interests are directly opposed. In such
situations, the parties should try to reach results based on standards
independent of the will of each party. Some fair standard such as market value,
custom, law or expert opinion will serve the purpose. Negotiators should reason
and be open to reason, yield to principle but not to pressure, and insist on
using objective criteria.
principles are relevant to all the stages of negotiation: analysis, planning and
the actual negotiation. During analysis you are diagnosing the situation,
gathering the studying information about it, considering possible problems with
personal interactions, reviewing options already on the table and identifying
the interests of the parties. During planning the same four points are
considered again while ideas are generated and actions decided. How will the
personality be handled? Which are your most important interests? During
negotiations the four points come to the forefront.
Differences in perception, feelings of anger etc., should be acknowledged
and dealt with. Each side should recognize the interests of the other so both
can generate options to achieve agreement.
principled negotiation, as contrasted to positional bargaining, focuses on the
interests of the parties, mutually satisfactory options and fair standards to
reach agreement. It enables the parties to reach agreement efficiently without
all of the anger and resentment that occurs when they try to dig each other out
of entrenched positions, improving the chances for a wise agreement, amicably
achieved, that can lead to a rewarding long-term relationship.
negotiations it is important to be aware of
between the groups of negotiators and to recognize that cultural differences can
affect the way one side hears and absorbs what is being said by the other.
Cultural differences can either
highlight and clarify or distort and confuse what is said. Special effort is
needed to counter their impact. Care must be taken to be sure that arguments are
phrased in a manner that will be fully comprehended. Speaking slowly and
stopping to get feedback from the other party on
their understanding of your statement will be very helpful.