What is the Negotiation Process?
As you prepare to negotiate, make sure you choose the right negotiation process for the most rewarding outcome for you and your counterpart.
While you might choose many from a number of approaches to a negotiation, a mutual gains negotiation process can help you not only achieve a negotiated agreement with a counterpart but also help a negotiator find ways to create value and expand the pie of resources. In fact, our satisfaction with the final outcome of a negotiation doesn’t depend solely on how much we objectively gained or lost. Negotiator satisfaction hinges, in part, on whether the negotiation process was collegial and fair.
To maximize satisfaction and build a strong working relationship, don’t leave the negotiation process up to chance. Instead, take time to discuss how you will negotiate before discussing substance.
It’s tempting to dive into a negotiation without first setting an agenda and clarifying some of your purposes, but before the negotiation begins, explain what you hope to accomplish and how you propose to go about achieving these goals. If the other side envisions a different process, you must negotiate how to proceed.
Remember, too, that while the long-term goals of the negotiation may be clear to all (a signed agreement, for instance), you and your counterpart may have differing assumptions about the results of a particular meeting.
As you’re making commitments about the negotiation process, you and your counterparts should also focus on the sequencing of issues to be discussed. Typically, the best sequencing strategy is to begin with easy issues on which you anticipate significant common ground.
A thorough negotiation preparation process requires taking plenty of time to think through what we want, what alternatives we have to the current deal, and what our counterpart might value.
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