Some Important Points re Prenegotiation Preparation
Rex C. Mitchell, Ph.D.
Note: much of this is adapted from Lewicki, et al (2007). Essentials Of Negotiation
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* "Other things being equal, the negotiator who plans better does better."
* "On the surface, the drama and theatrics of face-to-face confrontation can easily create
impression that negotiation success lies in persuasiveness, eloquence, clever maneuvers, and
occasional histrionics. Although these tactics make the process interesting, the foundation for
successful negotiation is the planning that takes place prior to the actual interaction process."
* "Many negotiators are poor planners!"
I AGREE STRONGLY WITH THESE STATEMENTS.
It is important to prepare and plan as well as you can: "If you don't know where you're going,
you might wind up somewhere else!" (Yogi Berra)
However, you have to work with the situation as your negotiation proceeds: "Plans get you into
things, but you got to work your way out." (Will Rogers, Jr.)
It is important to develop your negotiation strategy in advance, including various alternatives and
tactics that may be appropriate as the negotiation proceeds. This requires a thorough
understanding of negotiation strategy options and the major positive and negative aspects of
various strategies. Savage, et al. (1989) proposed a set of five fundamental choices that is
exactly parallel to the five conflict response modes of Thomas and Kilmann (1974) that we
* This negotiation strategy choice diagram is conflict response diagram we used earlier,
with different axis labels: Importance of Relational Outcome horizontally and Importance of
Substantive Outcome vertically
* Avoiding is non-negotiation, by definition. However, it may be an
appropriate strategy in situations such as:
- All your needs and interests can be met without negotiating
- There are one or more acceptable alternatives to a negotiated agreement
- Your negotiating position is very weak and your BATNA is likely to be better than the
outcome of negotiating
- Neither the substantive nor relational outcomes are very important to you
- The desired ends are not worth the often-considerable time and effort of negotiation
* Accommodating may be a good strategy option when such
considerations as these are present:
- The relational outcome is more important to you than the substantive outcome
- There is a major goal of building or strengthening the relationship with the other side
- You are willing to make a sacrifice in substantive outcome
- There is a need for multiple negotiation episodes (which leads to the expectation that both
parties will maintain some sort of balance, with some accommodations)
* Competing is a win-lose strategy, the mirror image of accommodating.
It is appropriate when there is an overpowering interest in achieving substantive outcomes, with
little or no regard for the effect on the relationship.
* Compromising should be seen as a settlement between the
win-lose extremes of "I get" and "they get." However, it often represents a possibly-too-easy and
premature end to the negotiation process.
* Collaborating becomes the preferred option when both substance
and relationship are important (and there is sufficient time available). Too often, collaboration is
confused with compromise. Collaboration involves thorough and rigorous preparation,
communication, creativity, and understanding to develop agreements that maximize joint
In practice, you often will use various strategies during a negotiation, just as you may
use various conflict response modes during a single conflict. Many factors can enter into the
selection of negotiating strategies, including: goals, context, relationships and amount of trust,
previous history and outcomes, processes to be used, principles and standards, and assumptions.
Remember that we talked earlier about four different types of goals: Content, Relational, Identity,
Key elements in effective planning for a negotiation:
- Define your interests (don't confuse with positions)
- Define issues (usually are hidden ones, in addition to conspicuous ones)
- Assemble issues and define the bargaining mix (a larger bargaining mix takes longer to
negotiate, but opens up more opportunities for collaborative solutions)
- Consult with your team and constituencies (and the other side, when appropriate)
- Analyze the other party (gather information and make sense of it)
- Prioritize interests and issues (your own and the others')
- Set goals, target points, resistance points (understand and identify your own limits,
- Identify your BATNAs, possibly develop more and/or better ones
- Develop starting points and supporting arguments (do your homework - research and
|Last modified June 26, 2010
||Copyright 1998-2010 Rex Mitchell