What is Group Negotiation?
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.
Discover how to build a winning team and boost your business negotiation results in this free special report, Team-Building Strategies: Building a Winning Team for Your Organization, from Harvard Law School.
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