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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).

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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).

The final aspect is that all negotiations include tangibles and intangibles. Tangibles include physical items that are part of the agenda such as price, delivery date, terms and conditions. Intangibles include psychological factors that are important such as the need to for power, prestige, status and admiration. It is important for negotiators to realize they need to strike a balance between these two factors or the negotiation will not have a successful outcome (Cohen, Herb (1980).

All negotiators have their own style. Style comes from basic emotional needs, economic needs, role models and values that affect a person's conduct. While a person may not fit into an exact category, a good negotiator will look at the other party's central tendencies and try to work with that person's negotiating style. One type of negotiating style is the jungle fighter. This person looks upon negotiations as a cross between a war and a game. They love to negotiate and will even create additional conflict. These people can be creative, ambitious and charismatic. However in a negotiation, they may be disloyal, aggressive and combative (Shoonmaker, Alan (1989).

The second style is the dictator. This person is obsessed with control and acquisition. They don't like to negotiate; they prefer just telling the other party what to do. In a negotiation their emphasis is on power and logic. Dictators are assertive, organized and analytical. They can also be intimidating and judgmental in a negotiation. The silhouette style fears intimacy. This type of person is like a shadow. They will often focus strictly on tangibles and will strive for perfection. They want to avoid conflict. The silhouette a person shows is used to encourage motivated and competent acts. However, because of their private nature, they can be evasive and non-communicative in a negotiation (Shoonmaker, Alan (1989).

Thirdly, "Big Daddies and Mammas" will make the other person in the negotiation feel important. However, this is just a game to psych the other party out. In reality, a "Big Daddy or Mamma" wants control. They want to dominate the negotiation. They try to control by means of love and approval rather than by intimidation. A person with this style is often caring, supportive and nurturing. However, they can be over-protective, threatening and manipulative when negotiation (Shoonmaker, Alan (1989).

Negotiations can be broken down into two types. The first type is distributive negotiation. This is defined as competitive win/lose bargaining. The goals of one party are seen to be in conflict with the goals of the other party. This often occurs when resources are fixed and limited. Each party wants to maximize their own resources. The second and more productive type of negotiation is integrative bargaining. Both parties realize that their goals are not mutually exclusive and they help each other achieve their objectives. There are a number of conditions that encourage integrative bargaining. The first is to have both parties set goals. These can include common goals, shared goal or joint goals. The next step is to have the motivation and commitment to work together. Studies indicate that parties who believe they can work together are usually able to do so. Both parties must be willing to adapt their negotiating style to each other (Warschaw, Tessa (1980).

It is also important for both parties to trust each other. The opening move in a negotiation is a critical point for establishing trust. Trust must also be accompanied by appropriate behavior. Parties with a high trust level are able to communicate better. Clear and accurate communication is essential. Negotiators need to state their needs in specific concrete terms and make sure the other person understands them. The final element is belief in the validity of the other person's position. Both negotiating parties need to respect each other's attitudes values and information (Warschaw, Tessa (1980).


Asherman, Ira and Asherman Sandra (1990). The Negotiation Sourcebook. Amherst, Ma: Irwin.

Cohen, Herb (1980). You Can Negotiate Anything. Secaucus, NJ: Lyle Stuart.

Lewiski, Roy and Joseph Litterer (1985). Negotiation. Homewood, IL: Irwin.

Shoonmaker, Alan (1989). Negotiate to Win. Englewood Cliff, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Warschaw, Tessa (1980). Winning by Negotiation. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
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