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October 2013

October 2013 – Negotiation is about taking the long view

In a recent series of posts a number of people discussed Negotiations. The discussion covered a wide range of issues such as when do you negotiate, the circumstances and conditions under which negotiations should be conducted. The people communicating with each other on the subject discussed the types of agreements where negotiations were appropriate, as well as the various methodologies that can be used.

As is often the case with subjects that people feel passionate about, many of the discussions ventured deep into the forest of why’s and why not’s. I do not take anything away from the discussions of conditions, criteria, purpose, or any other aspect which drives the need for negotiations to take place.

The various aspect and details merit discussion. It is useful, however, to remind ourselves that the purpose of negotiation is to repair and preserve the relationship, and to do this one has to communicate with the other party or parties in an effort to reach an agreement which will maximize the benefits of all parties. To be successful, any negotiation must be ethical and meet the needs of the parties seeking an agreement.

A negotiation is not about one party trying to convince another party that it is right and the other party is wrong. At its core, it is about the exchange of ideas/alternatives by the parties in an effort to resolve their differences because the ultimate objective of negotiations is to find a combination of issues and price(s) that is acceptable to both parties. When all is said and done, it is a process based on persuasion.

None of this can work effectively or have any lasting effect unless the process reflects the commitment by the parties to execute the negotiations in an ethical manner. Any discussion of negotiation is predicated on the notion that ethical principles guide and control both the process and the outcome. In order for this to be achieved there are several common themes that are common to both parties before sitting at the table. Among the more important are such things as:

-Preparation: All too easy to say, but integral to a successful outcome. If you are going to convince the other party you have a basis for your arguments, you have to be able to back it up.

-Receptiveness: Your point of view is not the only one that matters. You must accept that the other party has legitimate concerns of their own. It is good tactic in that it forces the other party to reciprocate by being receptive as well.

-Flexibility: As any good general will tell you, battles are won by adjusting to conditions as they arise. The ability to see a compromise that will work to the benefit of both parties is often a key to success.

The purpose of negotiation is to persuade the other party to accept a point of view other than their own, and to do it honestly on the merits of the arguments.

Thought for the day…….If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow – Chinese Proverb

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