Negotiation is a basic generic human activity. The world is a giant negotiating table such that a person can negotiate many different things in many different situations. Negotiations can occur over labor relations, buying purchases, salaries, strikes, international affairs such as war and freeing hostages as well as family issues such as divorce, child custody and even who gets the car keys.
There are two common characteristics of a negotiation or bargaining situation. The first characteristic is that all negotiations have conflict inherently in them. Negotiating parties have separate but conflicting interests. For example, a car salesman wants to sell a car at the highest price possible. All while the buyer wants to pay as little as possible for the car. Also, an employee wants the most money he can get for a raise. The manager will want to give as little as possible in order to keep expenses down. The second common characteristic is that of reason. All negotiations will try to follow some rational procedure (Asherman, Ira and Asherman Sandra (1990).
There are certain key aspects to negotiations. The first is that there is interdependence between the two parties. While people may not have the same goal, their outcome is dependent on each other. Therefore it is important for the two parties to work together to reduce tension, stress and conflict (Asherman, Ira and Asherman Sandra (1990).
Negotiators can have altered perceptions of the other party. What often happens in negotiating is for an us/them attitude to develop. This can create more conflict then already exists. Altered perceptions are a result of a number of elements. Stereotypes occur when attributes are assigned to people solely on the basis of their membership in a particular social or demographic group. Stereo- types of men vs. women, labor vs. management, U.S. vs. Iraq can contribute to a negative negotiating session (Cohen, Herb (1980).
The issues of concealment and openness are also key aspects of negotiations. People in a negotiation will often conceal goals and feelings in order to enhance their own opportunity to make the best deal possible. When both parties do this, effective communication can get blocked. This can happen even if both parties actually want the same thing. Therefore, it is critical for every negotiator to decide how honest and open to be and how much to trust the other party. Most negotiators become more honest over time as their trust for the other party goes up (Cohen, Herb (1980).
Another aspect involves the use of creativity in the bargaining mix. Negotiators need to realize that there are always options and new ideas to explore. This is especially critical so that the negotiation does not get deadlocked. Both parties must look for ways to be cooperative and act in non-threatening manners. (Cohen, Herb (1980).
Negotiation aspects also include subjective utilities. A good negotiator realizes that people have their own person values, need, feelings and experiences that must be recognized. Because of the subjective nature of people, it can be hard to predict in advance what is important to the other party. There is no magic formula that determines a good or bad negotiation. Instead the subjective definition of satisfaction from the negotiating parties determines a good deal or a bad deal (Cohen, Herb (1980).
Sometimes there is a personal relationship between the negotiation parties. There could be the emotional involvement between a parent and child, two spouses or friends that are negotiating with one another. Often vendors will try to establish a personal relationship with their business contacts. However, while personal relationships can add trust, they also present problems. Negotiating parties may be worried over the damage that can happen to the relationship. The parties may be afraid to express their true feelings, needs and wants to the other person (Lewiski, Roy and Joseph Litterer (1985).
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