Please answer the following questions after reading the blog below:
- Without anyone losing, how does one arrive at Win-Win situation? What is your opinion on this?
- What is the objective behind clarification of goals by either side? Once you clear your goal, will it not divulge your internal stand on how to direct the negotiation process?
- How do you know that it is now time to start negotiation?
- How do you keep an open mind? During negotiation it is very likely that your mind is clogged with your own viewpoint as well as the various stands that the other side is taking.
- Can we say that negotiation has finished if the agreement is reached but the implementation of the negotiated agreement is still pending.
- Is it important for a good negotiator to be a good implementer as well? What is your opinion on this?
It is inevitable that, from time-to-time, conflict and disagreement will arise as the differing needs, wants, aims and beliefs of people are brought together. Without negotiation, such conflicts may lead to argument and resentment resulting in one or all of the parties feeling dissatisfied. The point of negotiation is to try to reach agreements without causing future barriers to communications.
Stages of Negotiation
In order to achieve a desirable outcome, it may be useful to follow a structured approach to negotiation. For example, in a work situation a meeting may need to be arranged in which all parties involved can come together.
The process of negotiation includes the following stages:
- Clarification of goals
- Negotiate towards a Win-Win outcome
- Implementation of a course of action
Before any negotiation takes place, a decision needs to be taken as to when and where a meeting will take place to discuss the problem and who will attend. Setting a limited time-scale can also be helpful to prevent the disagreement continuing.
This stage involves ensuring all the pertinent facts of the situation are known in order to clarify your own position. In the work example above, this would include knowing the rules of your organisation, to whom help is given, when help is not felt appropriate and the grounds for such refusals. Your organisation may well have policies to which you can refer in preparation for the negotiation.
Undertaking preparation before discussing the disagreement will help to avoid further conflict and unnecessarily wasting time during the meeting.
During this stage, individuals or members of each side put forward the case as they see it, i.e. their understanding of the situation.
Sometimes it is helpful to take notes during the discussion stage to record all points put forward in case there is need for further clarification. It is extremely important to listen, as when disagreement takes place it is easy to make the mistake of saying too much and listening too little. Each side should have an equal opportunity to present their case.
- Clarifying Goals
From the discussion, the goals, interests and viewpoints of both sides of the disagreement need to be clarified.
It is helpful to list these factors in order of priority. Through this clarification it is often possible to identify or establish some common ground. Clarification is an essential part of the negotiation process, without it misunderstandings are likely to occur which may cause problems and barriers to reaching a beneficial outcome.
- Negotiate Towards a Win-Win Outcome
This stage focuses on what is termed a ‘win-win’ outcome where both sides feel they have gained something positive through the process of negotiation and both sides feel their point of view has been taken into consideration.
A win-win outcome is usually the best result. Although this may not always be possible, through negotiation, it should be the ultimate goal.
Suggestions of alternative strategies and compromises need to be considered at this point. Compromises are often positive alternatives which can often achieve greater benefit for all concerned compared to holding to the original positions.
Agreement can be achieved once understanding of both sides viewpoints and interests have been considered.
It is essential to for everybody involved to keep an open mind in order to achieve an acceptable solution. Any agreement needs to be made perfectly clear so that both sides know what has been decided.
- Implementing a Course of Action
From the agreement, a course of action has to be implemented to carry through the decision.
Failure to Agree
If the process of negotiation breaks down and agreement cannot be reached, then re-scheduling a further meeting is called for. This avoids all parties becoming embroiled in heated discussion or argument, which not only wastes time but can also damage future relationships.