What is Negotiation?
Negotiation is a method by which people settle differences. It is a process by which compromise or agreement is reached while avoiding argument and dispute.
It is inevitable that, from time-to-time, conflict and disagreement will arise as the differing needs, wants, aims and beliefs of people are brought together. Without negotiation, such conflicts may lead to argument and resentment resulting in one or all of the parties feeling dissatisfied. The point of negotiation is to try to reach agreements without causing future barriers to communications.
Stages of Negotiation?
It may be useful to follow a structured approach to negotiation. The process of negotiation includes the following stages:
Before any negotiation takes place, a decision needs to be taken as to when and where a meeting will take place to discuss the problem and who will attend. Setting a limited time-scale can also be helpful to prevent the disagreement continuing.
During this stage, individuals or members of each side put forward the case as they see it, i.e. their understanding of the situation. Key skills during this stage include questioning, listening and clarifying.
3. Clarifying Goals
From the discussion, the goals, interests and viewpoints of both sides of the disagreement need to be clarified. Through this clarification it is often possible to identify or establish some common ground. Clarification is an essential part of the negotiation process, without it misunderstandings are likely to occur which may cause problems and barriers to reaching a beneficial outcome.
4. Negotiate Towards Win-Win
This stage focuses on what is termed a 'win-win' outcome where both sides feel they have gained something positive through the process of negotiation and both sides feel their point of view has been taken into consideration. Suggestions of alternative strategies and compromises need to be considered at this point.
Agreement can be achieved once understanding of both sides’ viewpoints and interests have been considered. It is essential to for everybody involved to keep an open mind in order to achieve an acceptable solution.
6. Implementing Action
From the agreement, a course of action has to be implemented to carry through the decision.
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