Negotiations that preserve relationships
When thinking about workplace negotiations, what normally comes to our minds is a picture of relatively aggressive opponents holding their files and arguments, determined to get the best for themselves out of the process. A different and better approach to negotiating is to assume that the parties’ subsequent relationship remains as important as the details of the deal struck between parties, i.e. collaborative negotiations.
Negotiation is a relatively common activity in the day to day work of most managers. Similarly, most people do indulge in some form of negotiation with diverse counterparts throughout the day. People negotiate to sort out differences with each other or simply to get what they want under the best conditions for themselves.
For managers, negotiation is an essential component of their duties. People often tend to disagree in the course of any business and it is the role of managers to find a solution in the interest of the relationship, for example with a client, a sponsor, a supplier, government officials or other stakeholders.
Not all people, however, are willing to negotiate. Some people may feel uncomfortable to negotiate and resort to ways and means to avoid the process. For example, they may prefer using coercion, manipulation, avoidance or simply may give in. People may choose not to negotiate for a number of reasons: they may fear losing something important or may think they do not have the abilities to do so. While it may be true that some people can be better natural negotiators than others, it is also true that basic negotiation skills can be learnt and developed by acquiring the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes.
WHAT IS NEGOTIATION?
When trying to visualise workplace negotiations, what might immediately come to our minds is the picture of two teams of “opponents” sitting across a table with supporting documents and determined to outwit each other. Obviously, quite some negotiations adopt this adversarial attitude and negotiate competitively, as if to end up with a winner and a loser.
Negotiations can, however, also be run collaboratively and end up in a win-win situation and where the parties’ relationship has as much importance as the end results of the deal itself.
It is therefore essential to know at the outset when a negotiation really is before embarking on the process of learning how to negotiate. This is because negotiation is becoming increasingly important for managers wishing to get the best possible results in the interactions with business stakeholders.
To be effective, a negotiation ought to result in a mutually beneficial, sustainable relationship. In such a deal, the parties maintain the trust in each other and share similar expectations on how the deal is on paper and how it will work out in practice.
Effective negotiations enable the organisation to generate valuable business results while preserving relationships. They enable one to: •
Achieve creative solutions to complex problems.
Develop skills that make subsequent negotiations easier and more successful. •
Prevent interpersonal conflicts from escalating.
Strike deals what are beneficial to both parties.
Create and strengthen valuable business relationships.
A lack of negotiation skills can put the negotiator and his/her organisation at a disadvantage. It can lead to conflicts going out of control and relationships deteriorating beyond repair. Qu: Give examples of negotiations in the workplace.
THE REASONS TO ACQUIRE NEGOTIATIONS SKILLS
Inexperienced managers often consider negotiation to be an unpleasant activity in which an agreement has to be reached at any cost. They make themselves vulnerable by having preconceived ideas. For example, they may have an established view of what the issues are and perceive that the parties’ perceptions of these issues are directly opposed. For...
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