Research shows successful negotiations are dependent upon the behavioral as well as psychological triggers of the negotiation process, because an agreeable personality is crucial in communication, and humans generally do not react well to criticism and cultural diversity will present challenges if not understood. Negotiations encompass more than resolving negotiations or bartering for financial gain. There are many components that must be understood to fully harness the art of the negotiation; to go from effectively negotiating to efficiently negotiating. The negotiation encompasses the hard and soft skills of communication, research, tenacity, and situational awareness to carefully navigate the roadblocks and pitfalls that may arise during the key interactions of the parties involved in the negotiation.
Introduction to Successful Negotiations
Research shows successful negotiations are dependent upon the behavioral as well as psychological triggers of the negotiation process, because an agreeable personality is crucial in communication, and humans generally do not react well to criticism and cultural diversity will present challenges if not understood. Negotiations of a contract to gain consensus between parties is ultimately the clarification and agreement on what is going to be provided regarding the requirements and what will be exchanged for meeting those requirements prior to the actual efforts taking place(Goldman, B. M., & Shapiro, D. L. (Eds.) 2012). The process to arrive at the desired end state is a balance of the art of negotiation and science of managing psychological and behavioral activities to manage and control the negotiation and communication. The art of negotiation involves understanding how to create the behavioral and psychological reactions and interactions of the parties involved and to establish the bond or relationship between the parties of the negotiation (Thompson, Wang, & Gunia, 2010). In regard to the science or tactical side of the negotiation, it is imperative to understand the tools available to the negotiator as well as the knowledge and understanding of what negotiations actually involve. The art of negotiation is a balance between the tool utilization and the artistic implementation of those skills (Gallagher, R. S. 2009).
Understanding Triggers of Negotiations
Understanding the two sides of negotiation will allow the negotiator to focus on the interactions between themselves and the other parties. It is important for the negotiator to fully understand the requirements of the negotiation as well as the process required to achieve the requirements. The negotiator must understand the process and the multiple variables that will be used to persuade each party to come to a common agreement. These types of triggers can be psychological or behavioral in nature. By understanding the process and ensuring a level of preparedness prior to negotiation the negotiator can focus on those behaviors that can provide a benefit or advantage in the negotiation. Preparedness leads to successful negotiations (Templar, Herring, Thompson, & Fadem, 2012). There are certain triggers and reactions that a negotiator can focus on to place the other party at ease and build a bond between each side. The negotiator must build a relationship while also watching for the pitfalls or roadblocks that could obstruct the pursuit of the desired end state. These roadblocks include but are not limited to situations such as unsolicited criticism, whether good or mal-intentioned, and potential diversification issues that could lead to barriers in communication, understanding or acceptance of the proposed negotiations. The negotiator must understand with whom they are communicating with, how their communication is interpreted and if it is received as intended. Communication is the key to negotiations (Barry, B., & Friedman, R. A. 1998).
There are two types of negotiations, the integrative and distributive. The distributive negotiation sees negotiation as dividing a fixed amount of items and is by definition finite. This is representative of haggling for the best price or the best offer. This is a tug-of-war between the buyer and the seller in which only a certain amount of ground can be gained or lost. The distributive negotiation is more about keeping key information secret and not allowing any leverage to the other negotiating party. Integrative negotiations are based on cooperation and collaboration for a mutually beneficial objective. These types of negotiations provide a win-win scenario which is normally used in trouble-shooting, problem solving or finding a resolution to a complex issue with multiple facets. Distributive negotiations would be used when buying a vehicle or purchasing a house whereas integrative negotiations would be used when selling land to a new corporation that will bring new business opportunities to a community (Barry, B., & Friedman, R. A. 1998)..
The appropriate communication method is not only a vessel to provide key information, but it is also a basis for tactical operations within the negotiation as well as the tool to effectively and efficiently close the negotiation with a beneficial outcome. Each person receives and perceives communication in different ways. A message could be misinterpreted through subtle changes in the way the message is received. The message can be altered in multiple ways. This includes both verbal and non-verbal cues. These communicative aspects of the negotiation are tools that can promote the success of the negotiation or derail the intentions. Tailoring messages to specific parties becomes easier with experience and increased involvement with the parties in the negotiation. These interactions create the psychological and behavioral bonds needed to achieve an on-going and strategically mutual relationship. Building the relationships between each party also provides the ability for the negotiation teams to bridge the gaps between distance and culture. As more communication occurs, the better the teams begin to know and understand one another. Through this collaboration the bond that is built also facilitates the negotiation (Long, Fisher, & McGinn, 2012).
Personality Dependency for Successful Negotiation
Negotiations expand beyond the requirements of one party and the acceptance of requirements by the other. Communication is necessary and vital to the negotiation and personality molds the type of conversation that will be utilized. There is an underlying requirement to ensure the appropriate method of communication is used while also presenting that communication in a straightforward manner. This straightforward method of communicating the requirements of what one needs enables a slight advantage in the negotiation. Utilizing a straightforward tactic alleviates unnecessary communication and interference that could hinder the process and negate the potential successful conclusion of the negotiation. Straightforwardness sets the tone for the negotiation and creates a slight competitive advantage for the first party by creating a feeling of superiority, credibility and steadfastness (DeRue, Conlon, Moon, and Willaby, 2009).
The clear, concise and accurate description of the requirements establishes a level of credibility in the knowledge and understanding of the negotiating party and creates a scenario that is slightly in favor of the straightforward party. This type of tactic utilizes the psychological and behavioral tendencies of the negotiating parties to create an advantage, and every advantage in a negotiation will help facilitate the ability to achieve the desired results. Building relationships is also crucial in taking the negotiations to a higher level of expectation and results. Understanding how people communicate, and what cultural and diversity issues can strain interactions between parties will provide the ability to mitigate those risks and work on the core negotiations (Kulik, & Olekalns, 2012).. Eliminating the noise of communication and the barriers of poor delivery and receipt of that communication allows for a pure and focused negotiation on the key points of the requirements. Understanding what negotiations include, maintaining a prepared and straightforward negotiation style while also maintaining clear and unobstructed communication will all play into the art of negotiation (Goldman & Shapiro, 2012).
Clarity of Communication
There are many different circumstances when strategies need to be employed by negotiators to solve a situation or resolve a negotiation between parties. During the initial phase of the negotiation it is important to assess the situation and take the necessary steps to mitigate the situation and provide a resolution to the negotiation. The first level of resolution in a negotiation includes a variety of steps which build a relationship between each party involved. This relationship builds avenues between each party to avoid pitfalls or roadblocks that may obstruct the pursuit of the desired end state. These practices include understanding negotiations are part of working in groups, addressing the negotiation as early as possible, increase the communication to understand the issues, remain in a neutral position, understand the cause of the issue to ultimately work towards and a negotiated win/win situation for both parties.
The strategy for building a strong negotiation utilizing a reliance on the psychological and behavioral triggers focuses on four areas. The first is preparing for the negotiation. Following closely behind that is separating the emotional and physical attachment of the people in the negotiation including their behavioral and psychological attachments from the actual negotiation. Thirdly is focusing on the issues as well as the desired end state the negotiator is willing to accept and willing to provide at the end of the negotiation. Lastly, the focus is to end with the desired results without damaging the relationship so that future negotiations can occur if needed (Thompson, Wang, & Gunia, 2010).
Methods and Tactics
As a best practice it is important to follow specific, scalable and flexible methodology to provide the best possible outcome to negotiations. By following a common and tested framework negotiations can have expected results and potentially extrapolate the impacts of the behavioral and psychological effects of the negotiations to garner greater results. Negotiations arise for many different reasons and come from multiple sources. Key interactions create the psychological and behavioral bonds needed to achieve an on-going and strategically mutual relationship (Goldman & Shapiro, 2012)
The first area of concentration as a best practice strategy is working on preparation for the negotiation process. This preparation falls in line with understanding the sources of the negotiation and what is needed at the end of the negotiation. Communication is important and the ability to create clear, concise and understandable communication is the keystone to the negotiation process (Patton, 2011). Poor communication can cause a failure in the entire process due to the fact that the information that the sender of the information is either not reaching the intended target or is being misinterpreted by the receiver. Different values and objectives must also be understood so that the playing ground of negotiation can be leveled and understood between each side of the negotiation as well as the manger working on the resolution. Varying objectives can drive negotiation by putting people into situations in which they are vying for oppositional stances or trying to obtain limited resources. Once the negotiator gains a greater understanding of the source of the negotiation they will be better suited to address the situation.
Separating the individuals from the issue will allow the negotiator to allocate the limited time and energy from the opposing sides to focus on the resolution and not focus attacks on the individuals involved. This allows the focus of the individuals to be placed in a more positive situation that promotes a solution as opposed to negating any forward movement toward a resolution. Also by separating the individuals from the problem it allows for the people involved to remove some of the emotion from the situation and focus on a resolution to the root cause of the negotiation. A negotiation can achieve a high state of instability if tempers or other behavioral elements fuel the distance between the solution and the problem. Although not every negotiation can be resolved by reallocating efforts toward a mutually engaging solution, it is a best practice and should remain a priority for negotiation management. The appropriate communication method is not only a vessel to provide key information, but it is also a basis for tactical operations within the negotiation as well as a tool to effectively and efficiently close the negotiation with a beneficial outcome (Goldman & Shapiro, 2012).
Separating the individuals from the issue is then followed by focusing on the issues at hand. By removing the behavioral and psychological elements from the negotiation, the negotiator can utilize their increased control and knowledge to manage the remaining variables of the negotiation. At this stage the underlying cause of the negotiation has been identified and the individuals have been somewhat removed from the core issues of the negotiation. This leaves the centralized focus on what needs to be accomplished within the confines of the negotiation and eliminates unnecessary noise.
There are multiple outcomes that could result in the resolution but the objective is for the negotiator to facilitate the focus of the negotiation. For example, in the workplace there could be competing objectives that are trying to secure funding for the upcoming year but only a certain amount of funding is available. This puts the business units looking to secure their projects for the coming year at an immediate negotiation. The negotiation could be taken personally within each of the units in which the people become integrated into the issue and fuel a negative focus on resolving the core issues. As a best practice the leadership or management must focus on the core objectives of the business and set specific strategic intents throughout the business. This provides the guidance each unit needs to understand to see how they fit into the overall plan for the operation. The management could also provide a specific set of guidelines or budget allotments to the business units to mitigate the negotiations between opposing business units. This removes the people from the problems and allows a more centralized focus on the issues as opposed to the negotiation overall.
Lastly, the objective of the manger is to try and find a win-win situation for both sides of the negotiation. The focus on a win-win is not a mandatory outcome but it does hold value when looking to increase the amount of interaction and negotiation opportunities with the other party. While this may not always be possible it is a best practice to ensure an unbiased and favorable outcome is achieved on both sides. By working as a team to achieve a goal or objective and soliciting buy-in from the negotiating parties, the negotiator will have a greater degree of success achieving an end state that everyone can agree upon. Collaboration and searching for a win-win solution is optimal but there are also other varying degrees of success that includes compromising, accommodating, competing and avoiding for a resolution (Lewicki, Saunders, & Minton, 1999). Collaboration results in the win-win scenario. Compromising is a negotiated solution in which each party succeeds to a certain extent. Accommodating is a lose-win situation where one party gives in to the other party in order to resolve the negotiation. Competing is somewhat like accommodating in regard to the outcome but the process is different in that a competition for the resolution is initiated in which only one side can succeed. Finally there is avoiding in which there are no winners and no losers and the negotiation is totally avoided and will ultimately result in a future negotiation due to the fact that the issue was not successfully resolved. As a best practice, the negotiator strives for a win-win by utilizing the four areas of concentration including understanding the source of the negotiation, separating the individuals from the issues, focusing on the root issue and striving for a win-win outcome.
Reaching an End State: Criticism and Cultural Differences
Fully understand the requirements of the negotiation as well as they process required to achieve the requirements (Templar, Herring, Thompson, & Fadem, 2012). There are multiple ways to resolve negotiations and the nucleus that binds the entire process together revolves around working together. This includes managing criticism, understanding diversity and avoiding the pitfalls and roadblocks that could impede the success of the negotiations (Kochan, & Lipsky,2003). While working together may have initiated the negotiation, primarily it will also facilitate the resolution to the issue. The framework for negotiations and ultimately reaching an agreement is based on working collaboratively to reach the agreement.
If the negotiator needs to be involved in the process to reach the agreement it is imperative to each side of the negotiation. This follows the same track as gaining as much knowledge and information about the situation as possible prior to entering the actual negotiation. Gaining this knowledge and information will provide awareness to the diversity of the parities, the potential gaps and the methods of communication. The communication process includes more than transferring information between parties and must include two way communication as well as provisions for feedback and confirmation of understanding. The feedback and confirmation of understanding alleviates the potential for misunderstanding or assumed communications and allows for a flow of information on the issues at hand. While communicating, it is important to focus on the issues causing the negotiation and not the actual parties involved with the negotiation. The communication must be understood by sender and receiver (Patton, 2011). The redirection of focus on the individuals in the negotiation will derail the resolution process and not facilitate the achievement of agreement between the parties. Utilizing a skilled negotiator in a negotiation can help facilitate the communication process especially in instances where strong convictions or barriers have already been put in place between the parties.
With all communication the most important part would be the listening aspect. This includes both parties actively listening to the concerns of the other party and allowing an assessment based on their concerns to be conducted. Once the communication method is established and running it is important as a best practice to focus on the issue and search out the root cause of the problem. Through the negotiation process the areas of agreement and disagreement can be documented by the negotiator. This provides key points of criticism, both constructive and negative. This allows a precise focus on the areas of disagreement while not spending time and resources on the areas that have already been agreed upon. A common area for a pitfall or roadblock during a negotiation can occur based on people’s perception of what is happening and the potential negative impact on them and their work. For example, if a co-worker is perceived as working fewer hours or receiving preferential treatment, other co-workers could harbor negative feelings toward the co-worker. While the perception is that other worker is not pulling their own weight in the workplace, the preconceived notions are damaging the relationship and potentially harming the work effectiveness. Through communication, and addressing the issues at hand the focus of the group can move from the emotions and feelings toward the co-worker to the fact that each employee may need to adjust their work schedules based on work-life balance needs. The underlying issue is that each employee needs to work with their negotiator to fit their specific needs based on the flexibility of the workplace and not focus their attention on the employee that appears to have differing work hours.
This example also points out that there may be areas of negotiation that do not necessarily need a resolution or that is prioritized at a lower level than other more concerning or impactful issues. Reaching an agreement in a workplace negotiation can be achieved by understanding and preparing for the negotiation resolution. This is achieved by understanding the issue at hand and communicating with the parties involved. Next is separating the people from the issues so as to remove the emotion from the issue allowing focus on the root cause. Thirdly is focus on a resolution and agreement to the negotiation and lastly trying to impart a win-win agreement for those involved.
With negotiators playing a critical role in the skillful art of communicating the needs of one side, and managing the behavioral and psychological triggers of each group, and all-the-while managing not to negate the entire process by falling into the pitfalls of unsolicited criticism and group diversity barriers, the negotiation is not a simple task in demand. It is an art of managing both hard and soft skills to manage the relationship between each party while also trying to achieve the desired end state (Lewicki, Saunders, & Minton, 1999). Collaborative efforts create the bond that facilitates the negotiation.
The focus on preparation allows for a competitive advantage in the negotiation by allowing the negotiator to gain ground in understanding multiple aspects of the negotiation. The researcher can understand the preferred communication methods, diversity issues that may impact the negotiation, the preferred feedback methods, as well as other key hazards that may occur during the negotiation. Negotiations are dependent upon many variables throughout the process including both psychological and behavioral triggers. The key parties in the negotiation are crucial to the communication process and enable the progression of the process by leveraging their ability to interact with one another and build the interpersonal relationship. The negotiator also needs to focus on the key purpose of the interaction and understand what is needed on his or her side and what can be provided to the other party to come to an agreement. Once these key aspects are understood the negotiation can focus on the behavioral and psychological triggers to facilitate the process. Throughout the negotiation process there are multiple variables that play into the success of the process. These include the behavioral and psychological triggers during the negotiation process, the flexibility of the agreeable personality as well as the management of criticism and cultural differences each party may encompass.
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