Highpoints & Thoughts
We all have situations where we come up against others whose desires conflict with ours. Sometime we can just go our separate ways but at other times our road and theirs coincide. When we are headed down the same road with desires that don’t fit there can be conflict. We can have to “negotiate” a resolution. So how are you to go about finding a solutions in a way that works? “Getting to Yes” by Roger Fisher and William Ury examines how to go about negotiating in a positive and productive manner. They set out a way helpful in meeting both our short and long term needs: our relational and substance needs. Here are some thoughts from this book that might be helpful for you:
Usually two methods are used in negotiating for our desires: Soft or Hard Negotiating Techniques. “The soft negotiator wants to avoid personal conflict and so makes concessions readily in order to reach agreement. He wants an amicable resolution; yet he often ends up exploited and feeling bitter…The hard negotiator sees any situation as a contest of wills in which the side that takes the more extreme positions and holds out longer fares better. He wants to win: yet he often ends up producing an equally hard response” from his/her opponent. (“Getting to Yes, p. xviii) “The soft negotiator’s standard moves are to make offers and concessions and to trust the other side, to be friendly and to yield as necessary to avoid confrontation” while the hard negotiator can make threats, demand concessions, and exploit vulnerabilities. (ibid, p. 8) Either of these methods often leads to what is called positional bargaining which is often experienced as a contest of wills, where anger and resentment result, and where relations are strained and sometimes shattered.
But there is “a third way to negotiate, a way neither hard nor soft, but rather both hard and soft. The method of principled negotiation….is to decide issues based on their merits rather than through a haggling process focused on what each side says it will and won’t do. It suggests that you look for mutual gains whenever possible, and that where your interests conflict, you should insist that the result be based on some fair standards independent of the will or bias of either side. The method of principled negotiation is hard on the merits, soft on the people.” (ibid., p. xvii) Fisher and Ury say that any method of negotiation may be fairly judged by three criteria:
*It should produce a wise agreement if agreement is possible.
*It should be efficient.
*And it should improve or at least not damage the relationship between the parties.
(A wise agreement can be defined as one that meets the legitimate interests of each side to the extent possible, resolves conflicting interests fairly, is durable, and takes community interests into account.) (ibid, p. 4)
There are 4 points of focus for principled negotiation:
- People: separate the people from the problem. (We have emotions, different perceptions and we
relationship still need to be attended to in positive ways for the best solution to
be found. It can be tempting to ignore ‘people’ issues but that is a grave risk.)
- Interests: focus on interests, not positions. (look not just at stated position but underlying interests)
- Options: generate a variety of possibilities before deciding what to do. (be creative)
- Criteria: insist that the result be based on some objective standard. (ibid, pp. 10-11) Agreements
that are based on fair standards (precedent, market value, professional standards, efficiencies, cost, equal treatment, etc.) or fair procedures (e.g. one cuts the other chooses, taking turns, drawing lots, etc.) are easier to achieve and less vulnerable to attack or rejection. When negotiating ask: “what’s your basis/theory/criteria for that offer or demand?” and stay open to reason. (pp.83-90)
*Every negotiator has two kinds of Interests: In the substance (e.g. substantive interest) and in the relationship.” (p. 19)
*”With many (situations)…the ongoing relationship is far more important than the outcome of any particular negotiation.” (p. 20)
*”Positional bargaining puts relationship and substance desires in conflict.” (p. 20)
*”Deal with people problems directly; don’t try to solve them with substantive concessions.” (p. 21)
*How can you break the positional bargaining battle? When your request is rejected or attacked don’t get defensive for yourself or your position. Instead of counteracting or trying to justify (e.g. playing into the push and pull of the battle) sidestep the attack and deflect it against the problem. Here are 3 types of attacks and what you can do about them:
1. They assert their position and reject yours---instead of rejecting or accepting their position, look behind it for their interests. Try to find the principles their demand is based on and think of ways to improve it. Ask them how they think it addresses the problem and the basic concerns of each side.
2. They attack your position --- instead of defending your ideas invite criticism and advice. Ask what they see as its weaknesses in resolving the issue and search their response to gain clarity on their interests as well as to improve your idea from their point of view. (i.e. make it more attractive/acceptable to them)
3. They attack you --- instead of defending yourself sit back and allow them to let off steam. Listen, show you understand and when they have finished recast their attack as an attack on the problem instead of on you .(‘when you say…. I hear your concern about….)
Two key tools in dealing with attacks are:
(1) asking questions instead of making statements-- Statements can be threatening while questions push you to reflect. Statements generate resistance while questions typically create answers that can help you better understand the other person(s) and their concern.
(2) and using silence—it can be used to encourage them to answer an incompletely answered question, to reflect on what they have said or done, or to keep the pressure on them to come up with reasonable principles for their request. (“Getting to Yes” pp. 107-112)
*Dealing with tricky tactics: These can be divided into three categories: (“Getting to
Yes” pp. 129-143)
1. Deliberate Deception – misrepresenting the facts, authority or intentions.
Phony Facts – make the negotiation independent of ‘just trusting’ one
another by verifying factual statements
Ambiguous Authority –before starting any ‘give and take’ ask “just how
much authority do you have to make an agreement in this negotiation?”
Dubious Intentions –if there is a question about the intent of one party to
follow through with the agreement then you might need to build
compliance features into the agreement itself. (e.g. if this doesn’t
happen, then this will take place)
2. Psychological Warfare – designed to make you feel uncomfortable and consciously or subconsciously desire to finish the negotiations as quickly as possible by making unwise concessions.
Stressful Situations –some tools to create stress include excessive noise, comfortable
seating, hot or cold temperature of the area—if you find another working to create
a stressful environment using these kind of techniques, identify why you are
feeling stressed and how it is impacting you. Feel free to say if you feel the
surroundings may put you at a disadvantage to negotiate. Be willing to call a break
in the negotiations if needed so as to not be manipulated unfairly. If you meet at the
other party’s location you can easily break off negotiations until a later time or at
least take breaks to regain your energy.
Personal Attacks – sometimes verbal or non-verbal communication are used to make
you feel uncomfortable and attacked. Derogatory comments on clothing,
appearance, knowledge, devalue you (e.g. by interrupting your interaction to deal
with other people/issues instead of you), or by refusing to listen or make eye
contact with you are tactics that might be used to lower your negotiating ability or
confidence. Recognizing the tactic and mentioning it can nullify its effects.
Good Guy/Bad Guy –one person is adamantly negative and tough while another
appears to be ‘more reasonable’ and trying to offer a ‘concession’ from what the
‘bad guy’ offered. In dealing with this be careful not to assume that the ‘good guy’ is
offering what is in your best interest. It likely is what they have agreed is what they
would like to obtain. In response to the good/bad guy, say to both persons “I
appreciate that you are trying to be reasonable, but I still want to know why you
think what you are offering is a fair solution? What is the principle you are using to
justify that demand/request?”
Threats – pressure to try and force you to a particular solution or decision. In order
to counter threats you can interfere with the communication process of the threat,
you can ignore the threat, you can take them as unauthorized, irrelevant or
emotional outburst. Maybe the best response is to respond with principles instead
of anger (e.g. prepare countermoves for each potential threat and warn the other of
those moves while also expressing reluctance to take these actions since they are
not seen as being the most constructive pathway for the negotiations. Note:
Warning of consequences is different from threat.
3. Positional Pressure Tactics –are used to structure the situation so that only one side can effectively make concessions. Some ways that this is achieved include:
Refusal to Negotiate –First recognize that this might be a negotiating tactic. Next, talk about their refusal to negotiate (directly or through a 3rd party) and seek to identify why they don’t want to talk. Don’t attack them for not negotiating. Finally, insist on using principles in the negotiation (e.g. how are we going to act, progress, what are decisions to be based upon, etc.).
Extreme Demands –ask for principled justification for their demands so that when there are extreme and unreasonable demands it will be obvious.
Escalating Demand –where for every concession that is made demands in another area of the issue are increased. Raise the issue and indicate the danger it creates for reaching an agreement. Be careful not to act out of frustration or fear of what might be demanded next.
Lock-In Tactics –a kind of game of chicken where one party draws a line in the sand as to what he/she has to have. Communicating to the other side that your position is lock-in is required for this tactic to have any impact. So interrupting the
communication of a locked-in stance can help counter it. You might interpret it so
as to take the statement as a suggestion or desire. You can crack a joke. You can
resist the demand based on specific principles that you outline. Be sure to de-emphasize the locked-in demand so that the other side can back down gracefully as needed.
Hard Hearted Partner –where one person claims that he/she cannot agree to a solution because of his/her partner’s resistance. You may want to get this partner’s agreement to the principles of how to come to an agreement (possibly in writing) and then speak directly with the hard hearted partner.
A Calculated Delay –using the tactic of postponing a decision until a time that they feel is more favorable to them (e.g. right before a critical project or event). One way is to look for objective conditions that can be used to set deadlines (e.g. fiscal quarters, year end, project’s end).
Take It or Leave It –consider ignoring a demand that you accept a set solution at first. You can keep talking or even change the subject by introducing other possible solutions. If you raise the tactic with them let them know what they have to lose if no agreement is reached. Be sure to look for a face saving way for them to get out of the demand.
*Know you BATNA before negotiating: Best Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement. Your BATNA is what you would be willing to walk away to if you cannot reach an acceptable agreement. It is the standard against which any offer/potential agreement is measured so that you don’t accept an offer you later regret. You may also want to identify a “trip wire” (an agreement that is better than your BATNA but far from your ideal) which alerts you to when you are close to crossing the line to what is an unacceptable agreement. It is also helpful to think about the other person’s/side’s BATNA so that you are more aware of realistic possible agreements. (p. 100-106)
*”For a wise solution reconcile interests, not positions.” (p. 40) “Your position is something you have decided upon. Your interest is what caused you to so decide.” You position is the real desire behind your position. (p. 41) “Reconciling interests rather than positions works for two reasons. First, for every interest there usually exist several possible positions that could satisfy it….Reconciling interests rather than compromising between positions also works because behind opposed positions lie many more(common) interests than conflicting ones.” (p. 42) How do you figure out another’s interest: ask “why?” (e.g. why is that important to you), ask “why not?” (e.g. why do they not want to accept your offer), realize that each side has multiple interests, the most powerful interests are basic human interests (e.g. security, economic well-being, belonging, recognition, control over one’s life). Make a list of what occurs to you as their interest as negotiations go along.
*In communicating your interest or desires: (pp. 50-55)
*make your interests come alive by working to help the other understand how important and legitimate it is,
*acknowledge their interest as part of the problem(s) that you are working to solve (show appreciation for the other person’s interest/desires),
*state the problem before the answer (e.g. don’t give solution until you give reasoning for it),
*look forward not back (don’t get locked into blaming or punishing for past actions but work for a better future in which your interests are met),
*be concrete but flexible (“illustrative specificity” is putting out acceptable options that are tangible enough to show your interest while also not being the only option you are willing to accept or pursue.)
*be hard on the problem but soft on the people. If people feel attacked they may become defensive and stop listening. Instead attack the problem but be supportive of the people.
*In seeking options for a solution look for ways for mutual gain. Be creative and inventive. Be sure to look both at your interest and the other person’s in creating solution possibilities. “Expand the pie before dividing it.” (p. 56) Often option seeking (i.e. expanding the pie) is limited because of four major obstacles: (pp. 56-69)
1. Premature judgment (“judgment hinders imagination”--- judgment can make us fear: fear that our ideas are seen as foolish, fear that we might reveal more about our position than we want to or should share, fear that our comments and suggested options might be taken as a commitment on our part)
2. Searching for the single answer (we often focus on trying to narrow the distance between our current positions rather than finding a better road altogether) Solve this issue by separating inventing options from deciding on a solutions, start by broadening your options and don’t narrow your focus too quickly, focus on various facets of the situation in order to brainstorm possibilities or areas of focus:
-think about the particular problem (what is the factual situation each party
-diagnose the situation in descriptive terms (why is it this way?)
-in general terms consider what could to be done (brainstorm various specific
and feasible options for action) look at the issue through the eyes of different
experts/professions, invent agreements of different strengths, and change the
scope of a proposed agreement (e.g. seek solution for only a portion of the issue).
3. The assumption of a fixed pie (we often function as if the options are an either/or decision or a ‘fixed sum’ situation). Oftentimes an agreement is possible beyond the ‘fixed pie’ (perceived limited options) because there are more possibilities than often realized. These other options are possible because each side often wants different things. If that is true then each can get what is most desired. These differences (e.g. in timing, in risk taking/avoidance, in beliefs, preferences) instead of being a problem can lead to a win-win solution.
4. Thinking that “solving their problem is their problem.” (“shortsighted self-concern thus leads …to develop only partisan positions, partisan arguments and one-sided solutions)
*There are 3 basic categories of people problems: perception, emotion, and communications. (p. 22)
1. How can you deal with perception problems:
*put yourself in their shoes,
*don’t deduce their intentions from your fears,
*don’t blame them for your problems,
*discuss each other’s perceptions,
*look for opportunities to act inconsistently with their perceptions (in order to change hurtful perceptions),
*give them a stake in the outcome by making sure they participate in the process,
*make your proposals consistent with their values.
2. How can you deal with emotions:
*recognize and understand emotions; theirs and yours,
*make emotions explicit and acknowledge them as legitimate
*allow the other side to let off steam (e.g. allow a recounting of their grievances),
*don’t react to emotional outburst,
*use symbolic gesture.(e.g. to celebrate agreement, to affirm the value of the
3. *How can you clear up communications:
*listen actively and acknowledge what is being said,
*speak to be understood (e.g. not debating but talking to them),
*speak about yourself and not about them (e.g. don’t throw threats or blame but
talk about the personal impact the situation has on you)
*speak for a purpose.