The Negotiator Magazine

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"Master The Principles of Negotiations and Make Better Deals"

By Eric Garner

Why do so many people find negotiations difficult? Husband and wife who can’t agree over where to go on holiday and end up falling out? Unions and employers who can’t agree on their wage deal and resort to threats and action? Or politicians who can’t see eye to eye with their foreign counterparts over issues which make us all human? The reason, I believe, is that many of the people involved in negotiations do not understand the real nature of what they’re involved in. To do that, they need to start by recognizing the 7 fundamental principles of negotiations.

Principle 1: Negotiations Are Trade By Another Name.

Negotiation is trading. Like trading, it involves two parties who believe they can get something they want from each other. Like trading, it involves an exchange of offers. Like trading, it involves haggling, bargaining, bluffing, getting the best deal, a proper selfishness to get what you need. Like trading, it should end with both sides believing they have gained from the exchange. Like trading, it involves buying and selling, whether ideas or goods. Like trading, we can't win unless we're in the fray. Like trading, we fail if we are too greedy and we only really win if others win as well.

Principle 2: Negotiations Are The Best Means Around For Resolving Conflict. 

The essence of negotiations is conflict. Conflict manifests itself in differences of view, differences of opinion and differences of interest. When one party wants what another party has; when one group fails to agree on how to divide up limited resources; when one person does not see eye-to-eye with another; then there is conflict. Conflict, however, need never be the cause for unresolved dispute. If viewed in a positive way, as a start not an end position, it holds within itself the promise of new possibilities from which all sides can gain. Without conflict, there is nothing to resolve and so no negotiation; without facing up to conflict, there is no creative tension; and without the need to resolve conflict, there is no progress. 

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October 2006