While you might choose many processes for conducting a negotiation, we recommend the following three steps of a mutual-gains approach to negotiations:
1. Identify and clarify interests.
- Some portion of your discussion should be dedicated simply to identifying your and the other side’s interests on the various issues being negotiated. Try recording interests on flip-charts, a whiteboard, or a shared computer for all to see. During this stage, parties should avoid making judgments about what the other side expresses. Instead, focus on asking clarifying questions to ensure that you fully understand each other’s interests.
2. Brainstorm possible value-creating opportunities.
Once you’ve made a complete list of interests, it’s time to brainstorm various options based on these interests. Ground rules are essential for brainstorming to be fruitful. For example, to boost creativity and minimize self-censorship, parties should agree to record all ideas without criticism or evaluation.
3. Evaluate options
At the evaluation stage, parties should first agree upon a set of norms, standards, or criteria they can use to choose from the ideas generated from the brainstorming session. Such standards will help you weigh possible packages that might lead to efficient outcomes that maximize value for everyone involved.
A mutual gains approach to the bargaining table can help you not only achieve a negotiated agreement with a difficult counterpart but also help a negotiator find ways to create value and expand the pie of resources. To do this, you have to establish a relationship with your counterpart and through this discover the zone of possible agreement with her (ZOPA). When you know the areas of agreement where you and your counterpart are in alignment (and those areas on which you diverge), a skilled negotiator can craft an agreement that most closely approximates her own and her counterpart’s needs while building a bargaining relationship with her counterpart. Rather than antagonistic, the negotiation process becomes a value-creating, integrative situation in which each side gets a “fair share” of the pool of resources.
What are your methods for creating bargain from negotiations? Share your tips and thoughts in the comments section below.
Here are some more articles using integrative negotiation examples for crafting win-win bargaining strategies:
Related Negotiation Skills Article: An Example of the Anchoring Effect – What to Share in Negotiation – Knowing what to share at the bargaining table, and when to share it, are two key aspects of effective negotiation strategy. In this article, we examine the anchoring effect or letting your counterpart know your highest price, lowest acceptable bid, or ultimate bottom line. This information gives your counterpart an idea of the zone of possible agreement (ZOPA) and allows her to coordinate her efforts in negotiating accordingly.
See also: 5 Win-Win Negotiation Strategies
Originally published in Negotiation Briefings 2013.