Setting Standards in Negotiations

In negotiations, using an objective standard can strengthen your proposal and eliminate emotional bias.

By — on / Salary Negotiations


Why is negotiation important in business? As the starting point from which all commercial transactions occur, from purchasing equipment to setting salaries, negotiation in business is an essential skill no matter what field a negotiator finds herself. Using an objective standard can strengthen your proposal and eliminate emotional bias. In this article, the author illustrates the concept in concrete terms and prescribes a series of steps for referring to independent standards in future negotiations.

Lessons from Failed Negotiations

Here are a few of the lessons Jeswald Salacuse shares from his failed negotiations.

1. Develop objective standards prior to a negotiation

As part of her preparation and negotiation research, effective negotiators estimate the zone of possible agreement (ZOPA), discover her and her opponent’s BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement), and develop tangible measures of negotiation success. This keeps her on track while negotiating at the bargaining table.

2. Objective standards can be informed by multiple sources.

Historic precedent, industry best practices, legal rulings or moral dictates, independent opinions, or market-based information are some of the criteria negotiators can rely upon during negotiations. Choose the standard most appropriate to the bargaining session at hand.

3. Insist on your counterpart using objective standards.

Make him explain how he arrived at his estimate before accepting it or rejecting it. Your negotiating counterpart should be able to delineate the reasoning behind his request and asking him to do so can help you bridge the gap between two different objective standards at the bargaining table. If you can’t agree on an objective basis for negotiations, employing a neutral third-party mediator or arbitrator can help break the impasse in negotiations.

How do you set standards during negotiations? Let our readers know in the comments section below.

Related Business Negotiations Article: Business Negotiation: When is an Outsider Needed at the Negotiation Table – How to conduct negotiations including outsiders and other negotiation topics in business.

10 Great Examples of Negotiation in Business – These examples of negotiation in business share ten great lessons.

Originally published in 2011.

Tufts Magazine, Tufts University: Negotiating Life
Jeswald W. Salacuse (Henry J. Baker Professor of Law; former Dean, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University; author of The Global Negotiator and Seven Secrets for Negotiating with Government)

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