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How to Bargain to Win …and Still Be Friends
© 2006 Patsi Krakoff, Psy. D.

Without signing up for the Harvard Negotiating Project, how can you effectively bargain to get what you want?

Let’s face it: Each of us negotiates every day. At work, we discuss additional compensation when we’re promoted to a new position. We plan a vacation or a move. We negotiate with our spouse over what’s for dinner and which TV shows to watch. We negotiate all sorts of things, big and small, on a daily basis.

Negotiation is a means of getting what you want from others. It consists of back-and-forth discussions designed to reach an agreement with another party anytime you face common and opposing interests. But sometimes differing interests can cause the discussion to careen off track into an argument. Even when you reach a compromised agreement, the relationship may be harmed.

Positional Bargaining

Most often, when people bargain, they become entrenched in their positions. They try to reach a compromise that’s as close as possible to their original goal. This means bargaining in a give-and-take fashion.

The problem with this process, known as “positional bargaining,” is simple: Once you take a position, you lock yourself into it. The more you defend it, the more committed you become to it. Some people try to use soft bargaining, with an emphasis on preserving the relationship. This works—unless the other party is a hard bargainer.

An Alternative Process

There’s an alternative to hard or soft bargaining: Change the game entirely. Based on the Harvard Negotiation Project, this method—described in the book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton—is called principled negotiation, or negotiation on the merits.

Principled negotiation involves finding ways to meet the basic interests of both people, seeking mutually satisfying options. Both sides avoid digging in their heels. They separate their personalities and their egos from the problem at hand. They deal directly, empathetically and respectfully with each other. Their goal: to reach a mutually beneficial outcome.

Four Elements to Principled Negotiation

There are four areas to consider in principled negotiation:

1. People: Separate the people from the problem.

2. Interests: Focus on interests, not positions.

3. Options: Generate a variety of possibilities before deciding what to do

4. Criteria: Insist on a result based on an objective standard

The process can be broken down into three phases:

During the analysis stage, you gather information, organize it and think about it. You must identify the outcome (basic need or want) you wish to achieve. You’ll want to consider any people problems, partisan perceptions and unclear communications as you identify others’ needs.

Deal with the four elements of principled negotiation during the planning phase as you generate ideas and decide what to do. Consider these questions:

1. How will you handle people problems?
2. Of your interests, which are the most important?
3. What are some realistic objectives?
4. What are some additional options?
5. What criteria will be used in decision making?

During the discussion phase, both parties examine differences in perception, feelings of frustration and other factors. Each side should come to understand the other’s interests, which allows you to reach a joint decision without the high costs of positional bargaining.

With principled negotiation, you’ll enjoy the satisfaction that accompanies getting what you deserve while maintaining positive relationships during the bargaining process.

Planning: Deal with the four elements of principled negotiation during the planning phase as you generate ideas and decide what to do. Consider these questions:

6. How will you handle people problems?
7. Of your interests, which are the most important?
8. What are some realistic objectives?
9. What are some additional options?
10. What criteria will be used in decision making?

Patsi Krakoff, Psy. D. writes articles for business and executive coaches and consultants. She provides articles on leadership and executive development for sale, and formatted into customized newsletters. Get Patsi's Secrets of Successful Ezines 7-Step Mini-Course to learn what you need to know to publish a successful ezine.

This article was submitted by - Patsi Krakoff, Psy. D. Please Rate/Review this Article - Recommend it to friends

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