10 key points that we should always bear in mind when we negotiate:
– Negotiations are rarely pure win-win or win-lose situations, and should therefore be approached with integrated unbiased strategies.
– Uncertainty and ambiguity are inevitable in a negotiation, and the parties should be ready to learn about and even reshape their own perceptions within the negotiating process, in order to reach an agreement.
– Most disputes can be traced back to some pre-existing conflict from the past, but there are also often some other unexpressed, creeping and poisonous causes that force the negotiators to mediate in the pre-existing conflict and try to address the unexpressed causes.
– The interactions are basically chaotic, and they do not follow a straight line. Negotiators must not only be aware of this, but should attempt to make use of it to influence the process.
– Despite the chaotic appearance, negotiations have a similarity in structure, including elements such as issues, information, a time schedule, procedures, links, etc., which a good negotiator must be able to recognize. He must be able to reconstruct them and form an ad hoc strategy.
– Negotiations are usually interconnected, and they are affected by other negotiations that have taken place before, or are taking place at present, or that may take place in the future. Negotiators must be able to recognize them, so that they can lay emphasis on them, or draw attention away from them, as needed, during the process.
– Negotiations occur in waves over time. A good negotiator should be able to create and maintain a suitable momentum, so that he is able to take advantage of the various phases and deadlines for reaching an agreement.
– The individuals involved in a negotiation have a basic dual role to play: they are negotiators and leaders who must press for their services and solutions, but at the same time they must prove their own credibility so that they can influence the process by which both sides reach a solution.
– Experienced negotiators not only use, but also build up, their collective organizational know-how in order to facilitate the procedures and processes of participation by trying to consolidate isolated experiences and crystallize useful information from complex and chaotic events.
– Finally, negotiating skills can be understood and taught through recognizing the motives of the other side, simulating scenarios, reasoning in the course of action, and handling the process effectively.
Common Obstacles and Difficulties
Negotiations sometimes fail because the individuals participating in them lack awareness and are properly prepared for the negotiations. They rely on having additional alternative solutions to help them to address their problem more effectively.
Some serious problems which hinder the successful outcome of negotiations are:
– Lack of understanding of the negotiation process
– Lack of knowledge of basic negotiation techniques
– Lack of basic negotiation skills
– Hastiness and unpreparedness for the opening of the discussions
– Being in too much of a hurry to find a solution to a conflict
– Lack of belief from the very start in a possible way out of a deadlock
– Conviction that the other side is intransigent or dishonest
– Clashes of personality, and clashes from the past history underlying the negotiation
– Lack of ability to handle tensions, disappointment, anger and aggressiveness
– Feelings of being trapped by the way the negotiations are proceeding
– Defending personal or group prejudices and stereotype perceptions