skills to employ when negotiating? What is an agreement template and why is silence sometimes the best response in a negotiation session? These issues and others will be presented in this paper.
The Literature on Negotiation
There are several authors who offer at least five negotiation skills in books and scholarly articles. Royston (from the UK operations management blog, “RoyMogg”) offers five “intercultural negotiation skills,” which in this age of workplace and global diversity are important because effective conflict management and negotiation can only be achieved by knowing as much as one can about the other culture engaged in the negotiations. RoyMogg’s five intercultural negotiation skills are: a) empathy (seeing the world as other see it); b) ability to demonstrate advantages from one’s proposal in the negotiation; c) ability to “manage stress and cope with ambiguity” (as well as demands that are not predicable); d) ability to express ideas that are original in order to “objectively and fully understand the objectives and intentions at stake”; and e) to have “sensitivity to the cultural background of others” while presenting one’s objectives” (http://roymogg.com).
The Prentice Hall text, Negotiating Essentials: Theory, Skills, and Practices (Carrell, et al., 2008, Chapter 3) the authors offer five negotiation skills “that can be learned and developed by the novice negotiator.” The five are: a) recognizing the “distributive bargaining situation” and this prepares a person for the use of all appropriate tactics; b) determine a “reservation price” in order to eschew the “heat of the moment” decision; this prevents you from suddenly agreeing to a deal that is not acceptable and that you would regret; c) learn the proper way to use the “bracketing” of the offer from the other side; you want the other side to make the first offer so you get the deal you really want in a distributive negotiation; d) employ “common social norms” and “accepted practices”; don’t be unethical or rude when making offers and counteroffers; and e) the role of “framing” means placing the issue into the context that suits your negotiating position the best (Carrell, p. 55).
An “agreement template” is an important part of the negotiation process because without something in writing, generating a solid commitment can be on shaky ground. In some negotiations a handshake or verbal agreement will suffice to keep the negotiations going, but an agreement template is more powerful because it is in writing in a formal format.
Why is silence a good tactic when the other side is asking for last minute changes in the deal that both sides are trying to work out? Sometimes the other side in negotiations will try a trick move by throwing in a last minute idea they want to have as part of the agreement. This tactic can take the negotiator by surprise and if silence isn’t invoked, the deal that was looking very sweet can suddenly be spoiled.
In Japan, silence has been part of negotiations for centuries; one side makes an offer and the Japanese negotiator says nothing but perhaps makes eye contact or nods his head in a non-committal way. By not speaking, the chances are that you will be able to think clearly about the ramifications of the suddenly blurted out offer. Or if the offer is maybe not blurted out at the last minute but seems to be the very antithesis of what the two parties have been discussing all along, again, silence is power, because the other party will be thrown off of his or her strategy. In fact when a last-minute proposal is thrown into the mix, silence is essential because the proposal could be a psychological entrapment or an emotionally charged concept that is designed to create a stalemate; e.g., the other side feels like they are not getting the deal they want so them use emotion and surprise to attempt to stall the negotiations.
When the negotiation becomes ideological / political, that is a dangerous ingredient and it will threaten to blow discussions out of the water. When the GOP took over the House of Representatives, for example, they said they wanted to reduce the national deficit by cutting spending. What they did was so a purely ideological strategy by suggesting cutting National Public Radio (perceived as a liberal media) and Medicare. Meanwhile, “sequential decision making” can help resolve conflicts in negotiations because when one small point is agreed upon the momentum from that agreement can and does carry over into the next item on the agenda. In other words, “If we agree on the number of contracts, then it follows that we should be able to agree on the length of those contracts” (used as an example) (Physorg.com).
Carrell, Michael R., and Heavrin, Christina. (2008). Negotiating Essentials: Theory, Skills, and Practices. Old Tappan, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.
Physorg. (2006). New sequential decision-making model could be key to artificial intelligence.
Retrieved May 20, 2011, from http://www.physorg.com.
Royston. (2009). The Five Intercultural Negotiation Skills. Retrieved May 20, 2011, from http://roymogg.com/2009/12/17/the-five-intercultural-negotiation-skills/.