Negotiation is a means of conflict resolution when both parties wish to maintain or continue the exchange relationship. Negotiation exists because a conflict exists, a conflict that both parties seek a satisfactory resolution. Elements that define negotiation are:
– An interdependent relationship between the parties.
– A motivationally contradictory relationship. People and organizations have opposing interests that are difficult to marry. The dichotomy between satisfying one’s own interests and making concessions, makes negotiation a complex social situation.
– Conflict and negotiation are mediated by power relationships.
CHARACTERISTICS OF POWER
- Power is relational. When we speak of power, it is not in general, but related to the power that some people, groups or institutions have with respect to others and in certain situations. In a dispute, each element’s power can increase or diminish throughout the negotiation interaction.
- Power arises from dependence on resources. Person A needs something from Person B and vice versa. This dependence on resources is the basis of the relationship. A lack of resources leads to competition between those who need the resources, and the unequal distribution of them creates the need for exchange.
- Power implies freedom to make decisions. A certain balance of power is necessary for negotiation to take place. If one party holds absolute power over the other, what usually happens is the imposition of that parties’ aspirations. Power is potential, so it can exist without being used. We can talk about two basic types of negotiation: distributive and integrative. With distributive negotiation, each parties result will be inversely related, so that if one party wins, the other loses. It is also known as “fixed pie” – if we divide a pie into ten parts and one takes seven, the other has only three parts left. This type of negotiation usually takes place when dealing with quantifiable (salary) or dichotomous (promotion/non promotion) aspects. Logically, the results of this negotiation are negative, since the conflict of interest is evident, and the stakes are high.
The aim of integrative negotiation is to ensure that all parties leave the negotiation process satisfied. The objective is the optimal distribution of resources. This type of negotiation usually occurs in non-quantifiable aspects, such as interpersonal relations, and the work climate. It is also called “variable pie”.
PHASES OF THE NEGOTIATION
We can identify five phases of negotiation: preparation, antagonism, common framework, proposals (solutions) and closure. Preparation: To correctly prepare for a negotiation, all parties must plan the following aspects:
- Determine the nature of the conflict, that is, make a previous diagnosis.
- Define their own goals and objectives in two ways: the maximum level of aspiration (most favorable outcome) and zone of resistance (how much they are willing to give).
- Establish a list of possible concessions for the other party in order of importance.
- Develop a strategic-tactical plan.
- Safeguard the negotiator’s image in the eyes of those represented.
- Help clarify their own goals and priorities.
- Test the extent to which the other party can be led to make concessions.
- Demonstrate firmness in respect to their own objectives.
- Make the divergences that exist explicit.
ACCEPTANCE OF THE COMMON FRAMEWORK
There will come a point when the parties must decide whether to adopt a competitive, collaborative, or unilateral divestiture position. Since the goal of both parties is to reach an agreement, positions can be brought closer together if there are signs of reciprocity from the conflicting elements.
PRESENTATION OF ALTERNATIVES
In this phase, bids and counter bids are made to the other party, until positions are reached that allow for a final agreement.
Once the positions have been brought closer and the agreements reached have been explained, the negotiation can be concluded.