Personal Negotiation Philosophy

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First and foremost, I must emphasise how grateful I am for having taken this course. Throughout my educational journey to obtain my bachelor degree, I had the privilege of studying negotiation. I learned the principles of what an ideal negotiation exchange would look like. This fell under Integrative bargaining, in which parties would collaborate to find a solution that is satisfactory to all participants. I held that information at the highest of values because this reflects my cooperative style of negotiating. Throughout the years I engaged in many negotiations and was rarely successful. I reflected on my conduct and have found it in line with my values. I grew more confused and frustrated following my lack of success. I always put my cards on the table when negotiating and the opposing party rarely reciprocated. I often joked about how my degree ruined my life because I understood communication on a deeper level than most people and found myself flustered and unable to break through.

After taking this class, I finally figured out what the disconnect is. I did not understand the various methods and styles of bargaining. More importantly, I did not understand that during a negotiation, I would have to assess the other party’s style and adapt. This is where I was introduced to Distributive bargaining. Distributive bargaining assumes that one party’s gain is the other party’s loss. I was taught that Integrative bargaining is good and Distributive bargaining is bad. I avoided distributive bargaining at all costs because, I strongly believed that we can find a solution to satisfy both parties. Further, the golden piece of information that truly helped me understand the process of negotiation is switching styles and adapting. As simple as it is, this is where my deficiency was. I entered a negotiation in a collaborative and cooperative style and stuck to it. In conjunction with being cooperative, I am harmonizing. I hold the relationship at a higher value than my own agenda. As a result, I have been able to maintain relationships yet never seemed satisfied. With my new found knowledge, I am teaching myself to become flexible and directing when the situation calls for it. The directing conflict style focuses more on the agenda and less on the relationship.

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Next, I will discuss the various approaches to negotiation. First, the Directing approach has a high focus on agenda and a low focus on the relationship. The strategies used in this approach include but are not limited to persuading, insisting, and demanding. The person utilizing this approach typically has the upper hand and the power to impose consequences. The benefit of this approach is that it is not time consuming. This approach is most useful in an emergency, when principals may be compromised, or when the person implementing this, is certain they are correct. This is not an effective routine approach. This approach may be utilized by managers who have the final say in a business decision.

Second, the Cooperating style focuses equally on the agenda as well as the relationship. The strategies in this approach include, assertiveness, accepting of differences, and reflecting. This is most affective when trust has been established between the parties. The benefit of this approach is that is allows for personal growth and satisfaction when executed successfully. This approach is time consuming and discouraging when not successful. This should be utilized when the relationship and the concern are equally important and if there is possibility for future encounters. This is least useful when a decision needs to be made in a short period of time. This approach may be used amongst friends. An example of this would be selling a car to a friend. The relationship is important and so is closing the deal fairly.

Third, the Compromising approach holds the issue and the relationship moderately. The strategies used in this approach are the following: splitting the difference or meeting halfway. This is driven by a sense of fairness. The benefit of this approach is that it is speedy, and emphasizes fairness. Opportunities to deep dive into important issues may be missed if this approach is over used. This is ideal when an agreement must be reached quickly. This is least affective when the relationship is not important or the issue is minor. An example of this approach used successfully is members of a homeowner’s association splitting the cost of maintaining the general landscape.

Fourth, the Avoiding approach holds little value in the relationship and the issue. The strategies used in this approach are delaying or avoiding giving an answer. The party executing this approach does so successfully by remaining calm and not cooperating. The benefit is that it shields the person from being too involved in trivial matters. Over-using this approach may lead to loss of relationship satisfaction. This is effective when there is a power imbalance and the person exercising it, is unable to speak their mind. This is least effective if the relationship is valued. Opposite from the directing approach, I think this approach is useful when their workplace is seeking the employee’s opinion on a new logo and the employee understands their opinion does not actually matter.

Last but not least, the Harmonizing approach values the relationship more than the issue. The strategies exhibited in this approach are agreeing, taking ownership, admitting fault, and giving in even when unsatisfied. Being accepted by the other is what drives this practice. The benefit of this approach is that it provides a positive environment; however, when over-used the person may be taken advantage of and may lead to depression. This approach is useful when other people’s happiness is the end goal. This is least useful when the person convinces themselves that the agreement is satisfactory as it could lead to lack of self-respect and bottled up anger. I believe this approach is useful for parents. Parents often have to negotiate with their children regarding various issues such as dinner or how to spend their free time. If a parent agrees to make a certain meal for dinner and keep their children happy, it is unlikely to have an adverse effect on the parent’s happiness and will not lead to feelings of resentment.

Next, I will discuss the mindset needed when negotiating with each of the five styles. First, when engaging in a negotiation with a directing type the main points to keep in mind are the following: you must communicate that you are committed to the task. Remind the person delegating the task of other people’s feelings, as they tend to be objective rather than emotionally driven. Refrain from being silent or passive as it may lead the person to think you’re not listening. I am guilty of being quiet when a person with higher authority delegates tasks or takes control of the discussion. Prior to studying this material, I was under the impression that when the directing type is being assertive, remaining silent is the best practice. This opened my eyes to their perspective and how this practice may come across off as unengaged, uninterested and non-committed. In the future, I will be sure to speak up to demonstrate that I am listening and that I will be taking ownership.

In addition, when negotiating with a cooperative person keep in mind the following: they need to be heard and know that they have been heard. Active listening skills such as mirroring and reflecting or minimal encouragers them feel that they are being listened to. The exchange of information should be civil and friendly rather than abrasive and demanding. It is important to keep in mind that cooperators care about ensuring all parties are satisfied. Moreover, speak up and address what you value, as they truly care. I feel strongly about this fact because, I have engaged in negotiations and have said everything that matters to me and the receiving party just sat there blankly and continued to revert to their bottom line or final offer. This has left me confused and I felt as if I was left in the dark. I tend to be open about what my goals are and how I am willing to compromise to be fair and that is often mistaken for weakness. In the past I have walked away from those who refuse to tell me what they are hoping to accomplish. I have found that most people believe that, sharing what you want to achieve or your positions and interests is a sign of weakness. In contrast, I find it absurd when people do not share what they value and what they are hoping to accomplish and for what reasons. This may even be a sign that they are fixated on their positions and possibly do not actually know what is in their best interest.

Additionally, when negotiating with the Avoiding type keep in mind the following: avoiders need time to process and think about the offer presented. It is important for them to have their space to consider what the offer really means for them. A good strategy would be to kindly inform them of what you’d like to accomplish and allow them time to ponder rather than require an immediate decision. Being intensely assertive will essentially drive this type to withdrawal. It is imperative to remain calm and speak kindly. In the past, I have found more success when giving them pieces of information over time. I would start with the foundation or backstory of what lead up to the negotiation and allow them to process, then return at a later time and add to the story. By the time a decision needs to be reached they feel more comfortable making the decision. I have also found that information dumping leads to analysis paralysis which in turn, leads them to refuse to think about the information or reach a decision.

Moreover, when negotiating with the Compromising type keep in mind the following: compromisers tend to reciprocate the other person’s behaviour. They value being reasonable and fair, thus, they are focused on the final agreement rather than exploring all possible options. Compromisers typically do not enjoy prolonging the bargaining process, rather, they prefer being practical when finding a way to satisfy all parties. When negotiating with a compromiser I tend to suggest two or three options. For example, if we are negotiation what days we want to take off work, I would suggest that if I work the weekend, then I want the early shift throughout the week. Or I can work the late shift throughout the week and take the weekend off. In my opinion I find this to be fair as both parties gain something and lose something. It would not be fair if I were to suggest that one person works the early shift and takes the weekend off, as I understand it would be difficult to find time to spend with friends and family or engage in personal hobbies.

Furthermore, when negotiating with the Harmonizer it is vital to keep the following in mind: they want to please! They value social niceties and want to have a positive influence on the bargaining process. They enjoy kind gestures and it would be greatly appreciated if you were to show your appreciation or gratitude with a thank you note. When entering a negotiation with a harmonizer, be sure to show them that you value them as a person by causally conversing before getting into the subject matter that needs to be resolved. Stay positive and lighthearted in your tone. Serious conversations may seem threatening or cause them undue anxiety. I can strongly relate to this as I’ve played the role of the harmonizer in negotiations in the past. I can easily have a lighthearted conversation; however, as soon as the tone switches and becomes denser and my entire body language changes and I feel overwhelmed with anxiety. This often happens to me when I am discussing a work-related issue with a manager. I am comfortable talking about my day or how I am doing, however, if we are discussing anything business-related, I immediately become overwhelmed with anxiety to the extent that I talk in a lower voice and a much softer tone. In extreme situations I slur my words and forget English. The biggest trigger for me is the power imbalance. It is important for me to be a good employee and I don’t like to argue or disappoint my leaders so I tend to harmonize with their requests. I must add that this does not feel good and sometimes I harbour feelings of resentment. It is not a healthy approach. I feel at ease if they genuinely ask what I think and give me time to respond.

Now that I have discussed the various mindsets to encapsulate while negotiating with a variety of types, I will discuss vital elements to having a successful bargaining session. First, it is important to write down what is most important to you. Then, repeat the process and write down everything that is or could be important to the opposing party. The more prepared you are the more confident you will be. This can limit exploitation. In addition, this may be used as a strategy to persuade the other party into agreeing, if they seem to be fixated on their position rather than what is truly in their best interest.

Further, it is imperative to set the best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA) and the worst alternative to a negotiated agreement (WATNA). This serves as a checkpoint for what you are willing to agree to. Also, this protects the negotiator from being exploited and pressured or manipulated into making a decision. Similarly, the opening offer sets the stage for the negotiation! The opening offer should provide a reasonable margin because, negotiations typically settle somewhere in the middle. To this point, the opener should research similar negotiations and request an amount within the boundary.

Overall, the process of negotiation recognizes the parties’ interests and establishes a framework to solve problems creatively. Negotiations are composed of the following steps: planning, setting the stage, identifying the issue, bargaining, settling or seeking other routes such as litigation if applicable. I have learned that the most important trait to encapsulate as a negotiator is flexibility. While, I prefer the cooperative style of bargaining, in the future I will adapt the style necessary based on who is in front of me. There is not a one style or personality that will successfully execute a negotiation; thus, adapting is key. I used to be uncomfortable in negotiations. To overcome my discomfort, I began training myself to open up. I, now, have to retrain myself to share strategically.

In summary, we engage in negotiations every day; however, we do not always notice. There is opportunity to learn the skill and improve once we start noticing how we respond to our surroundings whether in a professional or personal setting. In future negotiations, I will prepare, plan, assess, adapt, reciprocate, and execute. Last but not least, if I need time to consider the concessions, I will ask for it!


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