The Negotiator Magazine

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During the Distributive Stage, bargainers should focus on the concession patterns. They should avoid two tendencies of less proficient negotiators. First, the willingness to bid against themselves through unreciprocated concessions. Once a position change has been made, it is the other side's turn to respond. If it fails to do so, this side should not make another concession. Second is the tendency of less skilled participants to make excessive position changes. Negotiators should always monitor concessions to be sure their position changes are not larger than those being made by the other side. If they have initially "bracketed" their goal and move in similar increments toward the center of their current positions, they will often obtain the final terms they desire.

V. CLOSING THE DEAL

Near the end of the Distributive Stage the parties see an agreement on the horizon, and they enter the most delicate part of their interaction. Less competent bargainers want so badly to conclude the transaction that they move quickly toward agreement and close most of the gap remaining between the parties. Human beings like certainty, and when they see the certainty of an agreement ahead of them, they want to solidify the deal and move on to something else. Participants who get this far need to realize that a final deal is going to be achieved, but they shouldn't rush the process.

The Closing Stage is the time for calm and deliberate action. Both sides want to solidify the deal, and the party that is more anxious tends to close more of the remaining gap. During this part of the interaction, participants should be careful not to make unreciprocated concessions. They should try, however, to induce their opponents to do so by making it seem that the only way to conclude the deal is for the other party to move toward them. By exuding an inner patience that disconcerts a less patient opponent, this side may generate consecutive position changes by the other party.

VI. COOPERATIVE STAGE

Once many parties conclude the Closing Stage and reach a tentative agreement, they shake hands and end their interaction. Individuals who do so often make a critical mistake. They fail to be certain that they have maximized the joint return achievable by the parties. During the Information Exchange and the Distributive and Closing Stages, the parties have over and under stated the value of items for strategic purposes. As a result, different terms may have ended up on the wrong side of the bargaining table. The Cooperative Stage is the time to rectify these inefficiencies.

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