The Negotiator Magazine

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When a tentative agreement has been achieved, the parties should acknowledge their accord and suggest resort to cooperative bargaining. They want to see if they can expand the pie and simultaneously improve their respective situations. They hope to achieve a Pareto superior agreement where one party could not gain without the other suffering a loss. One or both participants can suggest possible trades they think will improve their joint returns. They have to look for the items that may have ended up on the wrong side of the table and exchange them for terms the opposing side values more. Divorcing spouses may have agreed upon joint custody of the children, when one would prefer primary parenting responsibility which the other would accept in exchange for generous visitation rights and other concessions. An employer may have just agreed to cover a new worker's moving expenses even though the employer of that person's spouse will cover these expenses. It would thus be beneficial for the new employee to forego the moving expenses in exchange for a different benefit of comparable cost to the firm.

To maximize the effectiveness of cooperative bargaining, negotiators must follow two basic rules. First, if someone wants certain items, they must inform the other side of their desires in this regard. If they are so coy that they fail to apprise the their opponent of their wish to obtain these terms, the other party may never appreciate their interest in this regard. Second, if the other side has requested items this side does not particularly value, before the negotiators conclude their interaction, this side should ask the other party what it would trade for the terms in question. The negotiators want to be sure they have not left party satisfaction on the bargaining table by failing to maximize their joint returns.

Charles B. Craver




Charles Craver is the Freda Alverson Professor of Law, George Washington University. Over the past thirty years, he has taught negotiation skills to over 70,000 lawyers and business people throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, England, and China. He is author of The Intelligent Negotiator (Prima/Crown 2002) and Effective Legal Negotiation and Settlement (4th ed. 2001 Lexis).

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