Negotiation and Conflict
Conflict is a fact of life. In theory we negotiate in order to avoid conflict, but is that really the case?
Think for a few minutes about how you view the link between conflict and negotiation. Are the two mutually exclusive? Is conflict a part of negotiation or does conflict come about because negotiation fails? Is negotiation the alternative to conflict? Does conflict only come about because when we donít negotiate?
In order to reduce the amount of conflict that you feel, and to make sure you win your negotiations every time, letís look at a few principles and potential approaches to negotiation.
Principles of Negotiation
If you are negotiating and you get what you want then you win. If you fail to get what you want then you lose.
In a negotiation between two parties then, broadly speaking, there are 2 possible outcomes. These are Win / Lose and Win / Win.
The difference? If one party gets all of what they want and the other party doesnít then itís a Win / Lose. If both parties get (some) of what they want then itís a Win / Win.
Research shows that, in a single round of negotiations, the party that goes for Win /Lose, and wins, wins big.
Imagine this as a scenario. You are selling tee shirts on a market stall and a customer asks "how much for a tee shirt?" You reply "five pounds." The customer says "thatís too much. Iíll give you three" and you reply "no the price is five."
If you win this negotiation you win big because you get all of what you want.
In contrast, if you went for a Win / Win situation it could look something like this. The customer asks "how much for a tee shirt?" You reply "five pounds." The customer says "thatís too much. Iíll give you three" and you reply "I canít do it for three. The customer then says How about meeting me in the middle, four pounds?"
If you win in this scenario then you win less than in the first scenario.
So why would you go for Win / Win?
In the two scenarios, how does the other party feel? In the first scenario will they be happy and satisfied with the deal, or are the likely to feel a little bruised and resentful?
Research has shown that over many rounds of negotiation between the same parties the people going for Win / Win will actually win much more than those that go for Win / Lose all of the time.
This is because, if you have gone for a Win / Lose negotiation to start with then the other party is likely to enter into any subsequent negotiations with a much harder stance whereas the parties that have already established a Win / Win relationship and done the deal can move on to bigger things
"So how much is that fleece?" "Fifteen pounds." "Youíll have to give me a better deal than that" "OK. I can do two fleeces for twenty five pounds." "What can you do three for?"
Now, these guys are really starting to make some progress.
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