Negotiation and Bargaining


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Negotiation is a dialogue between two parties that is used to solve a dispute or a contentious between them. It is a conflict management tool for solving disputes among parties. Such issues could have happened, likely to happen or are in the process of happening. The issues might be result of incompatible goals, aims, and values of the parties. Bargaining and negotiation are therefore defined as methods used to manage conflicts involving two or more parties (Sebenius, 1992). The parties mutually agree to gain or lose by giving various proposals and counterproposals in order to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution. In this method, third parties are not involved. It is simply a deliberate effort by the two parties to find a solution to the conflict by involving themselves in a round table where they talk and chart the way forward. However, in extreme cases where it fails, third party involvement may be sought. In such situations, the third party may act as a mediator or arbitrator (Raiffa, 1982).

One of the real life issues where I have used negotiation and bargaining is during interview for a new job or demand for better pay at my work place. When I received a job offer, I was engaged in negotiation for the starting salary (Lewicki, Barry, Saunders, and John, 2003). During the same time, I negotiated about the terms of the employment. Again as an employee of the same organization, we were involved in bargaining and negotiation for more pay through the labor union given the prevailing economic hardship. The main aim was to reach a common agreement between the employer and the employees on the pay levels.

Bargaining and negotiation are a communication process of finding solution between the parties involved (Zartman, 1978). As a communication process, it can only take place when the parties are willing to sit and talk. One person talks and leaves for the other to state his/ her case until final solution is arrived at. Hence, they speak in turns. The parties enter into negotiation by choice and therefore there should be no form of coercion (Zartman, 1978). The parties entering into negotiation should perceive each other as important as themselves. Therefore, to achieve success, the parties involved in the negotiation should uphold respect, discipline and equal opportunity and status.

As a communication process, negotiation involves five disciplines of strategic and tactical imitation. The first discipline is that of self-mastery that requires courage. This means that the parties should be able to rise beyond being oneself to the point of being able to disclose their views without any fear. In addition, they should be able to refer to themselves, reflect their actions, and even take themselves in the other party’s position. As a result, one learns the significance of truthfulness and boldness in the negotiation (Landau and Pfetsch, 2000).

The second discipline deals with handling ones thinking. One should be able to assess all the possibilities to enable him/her to come up with a solution. This involves self evaluation through which one learns. The third discipline deals with the vision of the parties in the negotiation. Vision involves knowing what one expects from a negotiation table. As a result, one should express opinions without fear. The driving force here should be one’s strengths, which should not be affected by any form of fear.

The fourth discipline is the determination whether the ones position is workable. It involves expressing ideas that can convince the other party to enable him/her support your ideas. This calls for cooperation in order to create a lasting relationship between the parties. The final discipline is integrating the above disciplines to achieve a coherent system where no one feels sidelined or excluded (Campbell and Melvin, 2006).

Rules of negotiation

There are certain rules that need to be followed in order to achieve the goals of any negotiation process. A successful negotiation results in a win-win situation. The first rule is that both parties should be prepared enough to face it (Wondwosen, 2006). Adequate preparation is essential for success to be achieved. Secondly, both parties should aim at achiving high results. When parties have high expectations, their performance will equally be high. Third, both parties should be ready to compromise their positions based on reasonable facts. Fourth, the negotiator should apply a lot of pressure on the other party. This may make the other party yield to your demands (Wondwosen, 2006).

The other rule is that you should not offer to volunteer your weakness. This weakens the negotiating position thus boosting the other party’s position. In this case, you need to practice honesty with a lot of caution. Next is that you should use concessions only when it is necessary. Otherwise, one should try to create room for further maneuvering and should ensure that a mutually acceptable solution is reached. Truthfulness should be maintained to avoid conflicting positions. The other rule is to be patient while negotiating. This is useful since it creates stress on the other party. It also shows firmness of your position to demonstrate to the party that you are not very anxious for a solution. The final rule is to be ready to walk away from the negotiations and back to negotiations. Walking out should be avoided at all costs unless the other option is extremely attractive (Sebenius, 1992). One should be ready to return to the negotiating table if the other party becomes reasonable and is willing and able to change position. In all these situations, one should know his/her strength relative to that of the other party.

However when faced with the possibility of walking away, I should try to consider my Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement (BATNA). This involves working with the management to asses my current position and the possible options available .In this process case I should consider whether the employer’s position is reasonable with respect to the available information. Thus if the employer’s position is reasonable, then I need to make a second consideration. I should consider what my best alternative to the negotiated agreement is. Therefore, if we are unable to reach a mutually agreeable position, then other alternatives can provide better results to both parties. In addition, I need to consider the other party’s BATNA to provide other options for solution. Then either position should be weighed to find out whose position could be stronger. The possible outcome if no solution is arrived such as losing the job should be considered (Bazerman, Magliozzi and Neale, 1985).

It is important to note that negotiation must involve some level of compromise. At some level, concessions are made to enable the parties reach an effective agreement. Concessions is an aspect of good faith and willingness to work together to reach a solution (Landau et. al., 2000). This means that it should be well timed otherwise it would lose meaning. It should be well reasoned and planned and should only be used when necessary. It should only be used in some parts and should not be disclosed until the right time for using it reaches.

Phases of negotiation

Negotiation is a process that involves five phases. These include setting the agenda, analysis of policies, policy formulation, implementation, and evaluation. The agenda setting stage is the preliminary stage that involves the establishment the tone and identity of the negotiation. Here, formal and informal principles are set for every session. There must be an agreement on the time each session would take, where it would be held, the number of persons to be involved for each party and the method of making offers. These items must be considered at the agenda setting to ensure smooth negotiation process. It is essential for making a policy.

The second stage involves analysis and formulation of the agenda set in the first stage. This is where information is exchanged between the parties on the set agenda. At this stage each party gets to understand each other well in advance. It is at this stage where basic issues for discussion are identified for negotiation. Therefore, each party will be able to determine the issues that benefit them to avoid those that may negatively affect their goals (Raiffa, 1982).

The next stage is the implementation stage, which begins with the first party making an initial offer or demand. This becomes the basis of the negotiation. The limits are discussed through an all-inclusive negotiation. After the first offer is made, a room for negotiation process is created such that each party articulates their own demands. As they argue for and against their cases, a final position will be reached which is acceptable to both. When success is achieved, the two parties would then sign a written agreement, which would act as a contract that is binding (Bazerman et. al., 1985). This would be the ultimate outcome of the negotiation.

The negotiation strategies

In order to achieve success in any negotiation process, four strategies are put in place. First, involve distinguishing between the problem and the parties. Secondly is focusing on interests but not positions. Third is to come up with possible alternates to ensure that both parties gain. Do not be too rigid by considering your own personal gain. The final strategy is to be objective in the negotiation when evaluating the possible alternatives (Bacharach and Lawler, 1981).

In negotiations, parties usually have a number of differences so that if you begin looking at the other party it would result in misunderstanding. One should understand that the other party is a person with the ability to get annoyed. These differences arise on the way we perceive the other party, the communication process and personal emotions. Therefore, we need to set our perception right, communicate with respect and avoid being emotional. One needs to deals with these sources of conflict first.

Secondly, one need for coming up with possible alternatives that would lead to mutual gain. As a result, an effective negotiation requires that one becomes a practical thinker. This is inhibited by premature judgment, looking for only one best answer or taking sides at an early stage. Thus, one needs to avoid judging situations until after a number of alternatives are invented. These options should be broadened on the negotiation table instead of doing so single-handed. Then provide easy time for the other party to find it easy to make decisions.

Focus should be put on the interests but not on the positions held. Thus, interests should be reconciled first. In every position held by each party, though conflicting, there must be a shared and agreeable interest. It should be understood that each party has multiple interests such as economic well being and respect (Wondwosen, 2006). One should consider the varying interests and should acknowledge it. Consider the other party’s interest to be as important as yours. One should be tough but flexible and should express their interest and opinions before the y give conclusion. This will create room for evaluation of the alternatives thus avoiding premature solutions.

The final strategy involves negotiating based on objective criteria. This involves being independent of the other party’s will while negotiating. At this stage, one need t understand the existing standards so that the parties can be on a level ground for reaching a solution. The standards must be fair and efficient in providing a solution to the subject of the negotiation. It also separates the interest from the problem thus facilitating the process reaching a mutually agreeable solution (Bacharach et al.,, 1971).

Negotiation approaches

Four approaches can be used to explain negotiation. These include the structural, the strategic, the processual or concession exchange, the integrative and the behavioral approaches.  The structural approach takes into account that the outcomes of a negotiation depends on the features that define any particular negotiation. The features include the issues involved, the number of the negotiating parties as well as the power wielded by each party. This approach explains the relationship between the two parties and their goals (Lax and Sebenius, 1986). The approach laid emphasis on the role of the means used in negotiation.

The strategic approach is based on mathematics, rational choice theory and the decision theory. This approach puts emphasis on how the goals of the negotiation can be used to determine the results of the process. In this case, the negotiators are taken to be rational, meaning that they are able to evaluate the possible alternatives while negotiating. As a result, the y considers the option that will yield more benefits.

In the behavioral approach, emphasis is put on the role played by the personalities exhibited by the negotiators. Thus, individual characteristics of negotiators affect the entire process of the negotiation as well as the outcomes. Accordingly, negotiation involves the interaction of the different personality types the parties’ exhibit. It is based on the psychology of the individual such as perception and attitudes towards the outcome and the negotiation. For example, a person with negative attitudes is not able to reach any meaningful solution. The same also applies to the way someone perceives circumstances and outcomes. When the perception is right then better results would be expected. Nevertheless, where the perception is not right, it may result into an emotional response, which may adversely affect the outcome of the negotiation.

The concessional approach describes negotiation as a process of learning where the two parties respond to each other’s concessions. This means that negotiations are continuous process that takes place in different stages. In every stage, each party states its case and response is obtained from the other party. They keep trading on concessions until the outcome is reached. However, this is so risky since the parties may not be able to come up with new and mutually beneficial outcomes.

The final approach is the integrative approach negotiation is viewed as an interaction where both parties have the ability to win. In this approach the objectivity criteria is used to ensure that mutual gain is achieved. In this case, the parties cooperate and work together in problem solving to ensure that the both gain from the outcome. They reveal their interests with open hearts, coming up with possibilities and looking for the best option that is agreeable. The aim here is to create and add value to reach other.

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