Negotiation strategies & procedures
It is agreed that negotiation is a process and that the first stage of any negotiation, the pre-negotiation stage, is very essential in the planning process for negotiations. But the stage of pre-negotiations, as scholars have come to agree, is in itself also a process.
Since the pre-negotiation stage is so crucial there are therefore certain essential steps to proceed on in order to ensure success. While scholars are not agreed on the exact labeling of the different phases of pre-negotiation, nor on how many specific steps there are to be followed, they generally agree on the essential elements that must come into play during pre-negotiations.
Peterson & Lucas (2001) identify four stages of pre-negotiations. Other writers have classified the processes involved in pre-negotiation into five categories and even some have limited their categories to only three components. Scholars agree that the first step to take in pre-negotiations is for the parties to identify and define the exact nature of the problem and conduct necessary intelligence gathering procedures. This first phase is basically the framing phase. Furthermore, in this first step, parties are able to demonstrate whether or not they are willing to negotiate address the issues.
The next step is the formulation aspects where the parties begin to search for available options or alternatives to the issue(s) from the perspective of both parties. Each party will have to anticipate the possible options that the other could propose. In the third step there is first some amount of commitment to negotiate among the parties, whether formally or informally based on the information gathered and the alternatives identified. There is following this commitment a concrete agreement or decision to negotiate by both parties.
Here the negotiating parties decide on the parameters under which such negotiations would take place. The final step in the pre-negotiation process is the structuring phase where negotiation strategies are developed and plans are made by each side as how best to tackle the actual negotiation. Formal negotiations begin as soon as the parties agree to negotiate and appoint a committee over the negotiations.
What are the Individual Characteristics of Negotiators?
One important factor that impacts greatly on the process and outcome of negotiations is the individual characteristics of the negotiators. While no scholar has proposed a particular model of the best characteristic traits for a successful negotiator, they have identified several factors that could swing negotiation outcomes either in favor of or against the party for with the individual is negotiating.
Among the individual characteristics of negotiators the most commonly identified are negotiation experience, age, sex, education and training as well as culture and beliefs. Other variable characteristics could also have an impact on how well a negotiator performs. Irritability, tension, historical relationship between negotiators, physical health among others factors have been noted to affect the negotiation process. These characteristics are, however, quite variable, and depend heavily on the specific negotiation time and situation and not completely on the negotiator’s usual character traits.
As it pertains to the classifiable characteristics, as it pertains to matters of age, research has not proven any significant relation between this variable and the outcome of negotiations. Younger or older negotiators have not been shown to produce better consecutive results than their counterparts. Age is only relevant only as it relates to experience because it is only as the negotiator ages and matures that significant experience would be gathered.
Thus, in reference to experience, it must be admitted that the more experienced a negotiator is with particular negotiating situations, the easier and smoother the negotiation process flows. The know-how gathered with experience gives a sort of comfort level but it does not, however, suppose a greater propensity to succeed. Peterson & Lucas (2001) note of younger, more inexperienced negotiators, that they are more rigid and uncompromising to the proposals of the other side. Overall the amount of experience a negotiator has could in fact impact negotiations.
A negotiators training and education could impact negotiators. While university qualification does not automatically signify a more successful negotiator, researchers have seen some amount of correlation between education and training and the performance of negotiators. However such correlation has not been shown to be significant enough to make a difference.
The sex of the negotiator has also been highlighted as a characteristic of negotiators. The position of researchers on the approaches taken in negotiations by both sexes is mixed. Some studies suggest that women are more compromising than men and make a greater effort to obtain mutual agreeable solutions.
Differences in negotiators’ cultures and beliefs do of course mean that particular tactics and approaches would be more characteristic of particular negotiators more than others. Such differences are, however, too varied to classify. Suffice it to say that a negotiator’s cultural convictions may be against certain negotiating styles.
Of the characteristics of negotiators outlined above, experience appears to be the more crucial to the success of negotiation sessions. More experienced negotiators understand the intricacies of negotiation and are more familiar with the process and steps to take given any negotiation situation. Because of this knowledge gained overtime, negotiators would tend to move more smoothly through the process where a less experienced negotiation would demonstrate hesitancy. Unfortunately some experienced negotiations overtime tend to begin to overstep certain critical phases of negotiation (Peterson & Lucas, 2001) as they are quite competent and thus do not need to plan as much or as well as before.
Peterson, R.M. & Lucas, G.H. (Fall 2001). Expanding the Antecedent Component of the Traditional Business Negotiation Model: Pre-negotiation Literature Review and Planning-Preparation Propositions. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, vol #(issue #), pages.