The Negotiator Magazine

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So what can you do if you overemphasize relationship in negotiation? Being aware is the first step. Without awareness, this bias toward relationship continues to exist and affect all of your negotiations. You can use this awareness to think about relationship and outcome separately before each negotiation and determine which is most important. If you determine that outcome is most important, that will help you to: select an appropriate strategy, such as competitive strategy; focus on your goals, and walk away if the outcome is not as good as you want. If relationship is more important than outcome then the negotiation strategy selected will be different and your flexibility greater to accept less.

A second step is to employ your preference for connectedness in a conscious and skilful way. That is, using relationship skills as a strength in the negotiation process. The type of negotiation strategy that emphasizes connectedness is collaborative or "principled" negotiation. This is where both sides use problem solving rather than competitive activity to negotiate and where the goal is to find ways of satisfying everyone's interests. This is the most sophisticated and effective type of negotiation and it is a natural fit for women. It employs tools such as "options", "brainstorming" and "expanding the pie" to reach mutually satisfactory agreements.

It is important to note that "giving in" does not build, enhance or maintain good relationships. It may avoid arguments in the short term but it also eliminates the opportunity to learn how to talk through problems and to become skilful at reaching solutions. By using a collaborative type strategy, both the outcome and the relationship can be maximized.

Women can become better and more relaxed negotiators by being aware of the dual aspects of negotiation and determining the significance of each aspect before a negotiation. Hopefully then, negotiation will be viewed as an opportunity that opens up choices and not as an occasion that forces them to take what is offered.

DELEE FROMM is both a lawyer and a psychologist. She is a former partner of McCarthy Tetrault LLP, the largest law firm in Canada, where she practiced commercial real estate for 17 years. While practicing law she also lectured and conducted workshops on negotiation and mediation for the firm as well as for the Rotman School of Management, the University of Toronto Law School, Osgoode Hall Law School, Insight Conferences, Atlas Information, the Ontario Bar Association, and the Law Society of Upper Canada.

Prior to her career in law she was a senior member of the Department of Neuropsychology at Alberta Hospital, Edmonton as well as a private clinical consultant. During her eight year career as a neuropsychologist she presented and published extensively in the area of brain and abnormal behavior.

Now as a partner of Fromm & Goodhand and a consultant in the areas of negotiation and leadership, she lectures, gives speeches and conducts workshops for a variety of organizations including major corporations, charitable organizations, universities and law firms. She continues to conduct McCarthy Tetrault's national workshops on negotiation and mediation advocacy, and also teaches at Osgoode Hall Law School, at the undergraduate and graduate levels. You may contact Ms. Fromm by e-mail at fromm.goodhand@sympatico.ca

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June 2007