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Negotiation is the process used to resolve a disagreement within the relationship. The methods used for successful negotiation depend upon the situation, the desired outcome, the expertise of the players and the profile of the negotiations. Sharing information and working together are primary features of a negotiation, with both parties committed to a mutually acceptable resolution.
Selecting the appropriate strategy is the first step of a successful negotiation. Both sides should complete a risk-and-benefit analysis and review the probability of success with the various options. Depending on the subject matter and the setting, options might include facilitation, mediation, court or arbitration.
The party that instigates contact can propose the ideal strategy and suggest a mutually agreeable time and place to conduct the negotiations. During this contact, it is important to build credibility and rapport with the other party. In many situations, the first step in a successful negotiation is arranging the actual negotiation process itself.
Those involved should take the time to fully prepare for the negotiations, obtaining and reviewing all background information. The parties should work with key decision makers to outline the scope of the negotiations and the upper and lower bounds of an acceptable settlement. Those involved should create a booklet or binder of relevant information to review both before and during the actual negotiations sessions.
A successful negotiation is the execution of a well-designed plan. The parties involved should make a list of tactics that will be used during negotiations and identify members of the negotiation team and the roles they will play. Practice sessions are a great way to determine the best tactics and to enhance communications within the team.
Often, the parties involved in a negotiation develop a series of signals and methods that will be used to handle strong emotions, exhaustion and frustration. Teamwork is evident in almost all successful negotiations, and every member contributes in a different way. Many organizations use team-building exercises and retreats to build trust before the negotiation process begins.
During the actual negotiations, etiquette is very important. Good negotiators observe proper business etiquette by introducing all parties and establishing behavior guidelines. An initial statement about a commitment to sharing ideas, willingness to listen and openness to reason can create the ideal atmosphere for successful negotiations. A statement of mutually accepted facts is a great way to establish rapport, build trust and narrow the scope to the items in dispute. This list can be kept handy as a reference during the negotiations and uses to remind the other side about the points on which agreement has already been reached.
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