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 talk about power we do not do it in general, but in relation to the power that some people, groups or institutions have with respect to others and in certain situations. The power of each of the elements in dispute can grow or decrease throughout the negotiating interaction.
- It arises from the dependence of resources. A needs something from B and vice versa. The dependence of resources is the basis of the social relationship, so that scarcity of resources causes competition among those who need these resources and the unequal allocation of resources creates the need for exchange.
- Power implies the freedom to make decisions. A certain balance of power is necessary for the negotiation to take place. If one of the absolute over another, what usually happens is the imposition of one’s aspirations.Power is a potential, so it can exist without being used. We can talk about two basic types of negotiation: distributive and integrative. In the distributive negotiation the results of the parties are inversely related, so that if one of the parties wins, the other loses. It is also called “fixed cake” because if we divide a cake into ten parts if one takes seven, the other has only three parts left. This type of negotiation usually appears when dealing with quantifiable (salary) or dichotomous aspects (promotion – not promotion). Logically, the results of this negotiation are negative, since the conflict of interest is evident and the costs are high.
Integrative negotiation aims to ensure that all parties are satisfied with the negotiating process. The objective is the optimal distribution of resources. This type of negotiation is usually given in non-quantifiable aspects, such as interpersonal relationships, the work environment. It is also called “variable cake”.
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.