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4Ps Of Negotiation

Every day, people negotiate with their colleagues, bosses, suppliers, clients or even family members. Most often, bargaining and power are used to try and coerce the other party to agree to one's position. This is known as "positional bargaining". This is often most efficient when the issue is understood by all. It can sometimes be fun - think back to your last visit to a flea market.

However, "positional bargaining" is not necessarily the most effective, especially when the matter at hand is complex or intangible. Take negotiating for a promotion, for example. Since it is an either/or proposition - either you get the promotion or you do not - positional negotiation does not work very well. So how do you get people to say "yes" when negotiating difficult issues? Everyone is potentially negotiating all the time. This may seem tiresome, but if you remember the 4Ps of negotiation, you will be fine.

Preview The Negotiation

First, analyse if you are in a negotiation. The key factor here is leverage over the other party. Remember, you can negotiate only when you possess some leverage. When identifying leverage, consider your next best alternative-if you are negotiating for a promotion and have a concrete job offer for an elevated position, your lever age would be higher

The more leverage you have, the easier it would be for you to engage and succeed in positional bargaining. However, if you feel that the leverage you have is insufficient (or you do not want to use positional bargaining), then you have to be ready to employ "principled negotiation".

Plan The Negotiation

When using principled negotiation, you have to identify your own interests and the other party's interests. If there is no common ground, then it is unlikely that an agreement can be hammered out in the short term. If your interests are aligned, then the difference in positions can be resolved. If you do not know his interests, plan to find out before or during the negotiation. However, do know your own interests and list them out in order of importance.

The next step in planning for the negotiation is to identify the principles (for example, fairness, long-term relationship and so on) that both sides should adopt. These principles will form the basis of the discussion. Moving the discussion away from positions to principles levels the playing field.

Previewing The Negotiation Again

Before entering the negotiation, review, your strategy: How are you going to persuade the opposite party to abandon his position and adopt a principled approach with you? Terms like "win-win" are nice to hear, but may be too conceptual to move your audience. If the opposite side refuses to play ball, what are your contingencies. What are you prepared to accept? What will make you walk away? Now you are ready to negotiate. Actually, the real work is just beginning.

Performing The Negotiation

What does a negotiation mean? If you have elected to use principled negotiation, then understand that a negotiation is like a dialogue. You have to seek to understand the other party's position and because this helps you to adapt strategy and build a trusting relationship. It is important to keep in mind that all the preparatory work thus far is based on assumptions of what you perceive the opposite party desires.

Our experience indicates that he may not know what he wants to or does not perceive a better way than his current negotiation position. Only through trust can an open relationship be created, and information flow between the two parties. With greater information, a greater realisation of the true nature of the issues can occur. With trust, both sides will feel more comfortable about abandoning initial negotiating positions, and exploring options based on principles that they both agree with.

All this takes more time and effort, which is the drawback of principled negotiation as compared to positional bargaining. However, if maintaining a good relationship is an important consideration after the negotiation, then invest the time and effort. Just remember: Without preparation, you will always be held hostage to what is on the table!


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