The Negotiator Magazine

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7      Negotiations and bargaining do not happen in a vacuum. Each party brings to the table both strengths and weaknesses. Understand theirs. Understand yours. This should be a continuous evaluative process. Don’t underestimate either side.
8What is the other side experiencing? How do they see negotiations? What problems and issues do they bring to the table? What is their intention? Are there impending latent problems? Are there hidden agendae that must be uncovered? Pay attention to mind-set and try to understand it.
9This is a big one. Most non-police or non-military negotiators see safety as a secondary issue. It is not. Safety issues can arise in all venues. And, a breach in safety only has to happen one time to ruin the bargaining and perhaps your own security.
10It takes time to bargain effectively. Arrange for the time you need. Otherwise consider not entering the process until the needed time is available. Try to resolve pressures that you know will affect your time allotment prior to starting the negotiations. Do not succumb to time pressures from anyone, not even your boss.
11Before entering negotiations, and based on the best information you have about your side and the other, what is the best you can do short of a negotiated settlement ? How will this ultimately serve your needs? What is available to you and what are you willing to do if you cannot reach a settlement? Resolving a dispute by other than negotiations is not a failure.
12The objectives may change. Understand what the objective is for you and for the other side. Is the objective life; money; power; other. Your objective may not be the same as the other parties to the process. Knowing both yours and theirs can be crucial to outcome.
13Generally, we will be aware of our interests in negotiating a dispute. Not taking time to attempt to evaluate the interests of the other side could sabotage our efforts. Most of the time, the other party will be more interested in achieving their interests than yours. If you can convey to them that you are also interested in helping them achieve their interests, you may be much more effective in getting both accomplished. Consider that all parties to the negotiations may be able to satisfy their interests. Find a way to make that happen. It will require some work and some imagination.

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May 2006