Teamwork in a group negotiation can lead to improved outcomes, but conflicts within the group can emerge and cause negotiations to fall apart.
At some point in business, you can expect to be involved in a group negotiation. Unfortunately, the outcomes of teamwork are highly unpredictable. Sometimes groups cohere, reaching novel solutions to nagging problems, and sometimes infighting causes them to collapse.
But managed constructively, conflict can also be an asset in a group negotiation. The key to effective group negotiation and team decision-making is constructive dissent—disagreements that respectfully and productively challenge others’ viewpoints.
According to Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino, we often wrap up negotiations too quickly and leave value on the table because we fear disagreeing with others, she says. By contrast, when we not only feel free to disagree with others but also are encouraged to do so, we open the door to different perspectives and foster a more rigorous decision-making or negotiation process.
A successful group negotiation team also needs to place an emphasis on diversity. Abundant research shows that diversity is an asset to teams and groups. When team members come from diverse backgrounds and have diverse experiences and knowledge, they bring information and perspectives to the table that can contribute to better decision making.
Beware, however, that in a group setting, if one or more negotiators dominate the proceedings, a leader might take that person or people aside to offer feedback or address the issue directly with the group, perhaps offering some quick training on active-listening skills.
When a team negotiates on behalf of an organization, it can often achieve more than an individual would, thanks to team members’ cumulative knowledge and experience. Yet team negotiation can create new problems. Groupthink—the tendency to go along with the dominant point of view rather than challenging it—can promote overly simplistic decision making in teams … Read Team Negotiation: Tackle Common Pitfalls
Promoting ethical negotiation behavior is one of the steps we can take to reduce the odds that someone will try to deceive us, and is likely to be a more fruitful strategy than trying to improve our ability to detect lies.
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In this case study of conflict management, the Program on Negotiation offers advice drawn from negotiation research about forming negotiating teams and avoiding conflicts within teams and working groups.
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When President Barack Obama first took office, in 2008, one-third of the women in leadership positions in his office were women. Two-thirds of these positions were filled by men, some of whom were known for their brash, dominant personalities, including then chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and economic adviser Lawrence Summers.
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When engaged in a complex group negotiation or dispute, how should you come to agreement? Members might separate into factions and fight to have their voices heard. They might take a vote and let the majority rule. Or they can try to negotiate their way to consensus.
There are almost as many forms of group decision … Read More
Consensus-building techniques can help parties facing a group decision reach longer-lasting, more harmonious outcomes than resorting to an up-or-down vote. Several different approaches are available to parties engaged in consensus building.
… Read Consensus-Building Techniques
In her book, The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters (Riverhead Books, 2018),Thrive Labs founder Priya Parker, a professional facilitator with a background in conflict resolution, argues that most of us just go through the motions when planning events, whether a dinner party, a conference, or a negotiation. The result is often … Read More
Newly formed teams are often encouraged or even required to engage in team-building techniques and exercises, which might range from volunteering at a nonprofit together to sharing little-known secrets about each other to building a tower out of marshmallows and spaghetti. Although such activities can be effective at building bonds and trust, they don’t do … Read More
In group negotiation, turf battles—heated conflicts over territory, control, rights, or power—are common. Department heads clash over scarce resources. Companies, community groups, and governments get tied up in lawsuits over undeveloped land. Across the globe, fishing groups have depleted fish stocks in their rush to catch the biggest share for themselves.
… Read In Group Negotiation, Avoid a Turf Battle
Group negotiations are a fact of managerial life, yet the outcomes of teamwork are highly unpredictable. Sometimes groups cohere, reaching novel solutions to nagging problems, and sometimes infighting causes them to collapse. How can you predict when conflict will emerge in groups, and what can you do to stop it?
Dora Lau of the Chinese University … Read Managing Faultlines in Group Negotiations
Here the Program on Negotiation offers a checklist of negotiation design categories. Whether your overall negotiation design is decide-announce-defend (DAD) or full-consensus (FC), or a hybrid of both, raising these issues is usually preferable to falling into a set of important decisions by default.
… Read Negotiation Design Dimensions: A Checklist
Tucked away in an idyllic corner of Maine is a summer camp that features many traditional American activities: singing around bonfires, flag raising ceremonies, Color Wars, and chilly dips in the lake. Less ordinary, however, are the daily dialogue sessions, where Israeli and Palestinian campers heatedly discuss their identities, homelands, politics, and pain.
Meet Seeds of … Read Planting the Seeds of Peace
Adapted from “Strength in Numbers: Negotiating as a Team,” by Elizabeth A. Mannix (professor, Cornell University), first published in the Negotiation newsletter, May 2005.
The widespread belief in “strength in numbers” suggests that having more players on your team should be a benefit, not a burden. But this belief can lead team members to underprepare … Read Get Ready for Team Talks
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