In daily lives, one faces different situations in formal and informal contexts necessitating the need to negotiate. Negotiation defines the method used by individuals, organization and even states to settle differences or reach agreements (Saylor). More so, negotiation forms the process through which compromises take place on critical decisions often to avoid disputes or maximize opportunities. In the process of negotiating, the goal of each party is to actualize the best possible outcome for their suggested position (Saylor). Negotiation as a process requires skills and strategies for successful results.
As a part-time community first aid volunteer with Red Cross Society, I had an experience that culminated in a negotiation. We had responded to an emergency where a senior woman who was living with a deaf nephew had a stroke. It was difficult to get first-hand information from the nephew since no one in our team understood sign language. Valuable time was lost before I devised communication through writing. When we evacuated the patient to the hospital, I noted the nephew had a hard time accessing patient information as most nurses ignored him. Later, I negotiated with our Red Cross branch to recruit a staff trained in sign language in the first aid team, but I was unsuccessful.
In the negotiation processes, I followed four stages that included preparation, opening, bargaining, and closure. In each of the step, different strategies were applied that enabled and hindered the negotiation. The first stage generally involves planning. The negotiator should prepare and practice by generating knowledge on goals and anticipating positions and interest (Zohar 545). In the preparation stage, I followed various activities to facilitate the processes. Firstly, I gathered enough information about people living with disabilities, the composition of first aid teams and existing inclusion policy. It emerged that frequent cases of assisted physical disabilities included blindness and hearing impairment and there was no First aider with sign language or braille skills despite the volunteer's policy advocating for diversity. Secondly, my leverage was purely from the clients perspective based on the understanding that most life-threatening emergencies can be managed through first aid, there is need to recruit a person who can communicate with living with disabilities. Leverage defines the ability of a negotiator reaching agreement on own terms (Michael 9). Here, I failed to get an organization-based advantage or to anticipate the other party's position. Thirdly, though I had built rapport with the opponent the branch coordinator, I did not understand their levels of influence. Lastly, I knew my objective, but I did not anticipate whether negotiation would be competitive or cooperative.
The second stage of the processes was the opening phase. Ordinarily, at this point, both parties face each other and make an impression geared towards influencing each other. Therefore, I met the opponent who was the branch coordinator at the local office. I put forward my case arguing that there was a gap in the first aid team communication skills that complicated the ability to respond to emergencies from people living with disabilities. I clarified my goal as having the branch consider hiring a staff who had exceptional communication skills. The coordinator's position was that such cases were rare and there was no need to hire additional people since improvisation could work. De Gilamano (364) correctly predicts competition in this stage as vigorous dissent and self-interest seemed to be at play. Zohar (547) notes that establishing trust at the start of negotiation helps build relationships in a persuasive manner that shapes the other's outlook. I now realize that I failed to psychologically connect my argument with coordinator thinking, setting a tone of competition.
In the bargaining phase, the intention was to draw closer to the negotiation goal. This stage involved convincing the other negotiating party the suitability of the demands. Reflecting back, I feel that failure was partly due to overconfidence. Boles and Lon notes "In negotiation, overconfidence can lead to a lack of flexibility because a negotiator who believes he or she is always right will be reluctant to listen to the positions and interests of others" (154). I was convinced I was right. The coordinator also remained adamant that individual needs were a rare occurrence hence not pressing. Boles and Lon says of the halo effect "If we only know one attribute about the person and it is positive, we may generalize this to other attributes of the person without good reason" (148). I assumed kindness would move the coordinator only to miss two alternative strategies. First, from a self-interest perspective, I should have argued that recruiting someone new would improve the image of the local branch and attract more donations for being unique and inclusive. Hence, using this carrot approach, the coordinator would have seen the organization benefit, not just the clients and be convinced. Secondly, I would have considered using the framing effect in the inducement. "People are much more sensible too and influenced by loss frames, and they are more risk seeking in the domain of losses" (Boles and Lon 148). Using the technique, I would have stated that the organization risks negative publicity or a legal suit due to lack of disability considerations. The approach is more persuasive than saying the benefits to the clients.
At the end of the process, there was no agreement. The agreement takes place once both parties in the processes understand each other's perspectives and consider interests. In this particular case, understanding of the viewpoints did occur, but interest was lacking. A common pitfall in negotiation is to identify personal benefits but fail to see the integrative element by recognizing the other parties underlying benefits leading to win-lose (Michael 9). Additionally, there was availability bias. Boles and Lon suggests, "Availability bias occurs when people are asked to estimate the frequency, or likely causes of an event or occurrence and their judgment are influenced by how available in memory these occurrences are" (152). The coordinator's memory recollection may have made him think emergencies involving disabled people are rare hence no need to act.
In future, I would consider various strategies to increase the chances of a successful negotiation outcome. First, there is need to add additional members in a negotiation process who can provide new insights and compliment the approach in case of a deadlock. Secondly, preparation is key to outcome processes, and no information should be overlooked on the parties and issues involved. Thirdly, it is essential to have alternative strategies to a proposition and to be willing to concede some for the final agreement. Fourthly, it emerges that underlying attitudes to the issues may influence the behavior of individuals in negotiation hence the importance to identify and appeal to self-interest.
In summation, the skills and strategies of the negotiating parties influence the negotiation outcome. The process involves planning, opening, bargaining and agreement stages. During planning, one should research the issues and parties involved, develop rapport, and have a vantage point while anticipating whether the process will be competitive or collaborative. At the opening, the process should be set explicitly and clarified. It emerges that having diverse strategies and position flexibility during bargaining encourages win-win situations. Agreements will occur when there are understanding and consideration of the positions and interests of the parties. More so, negotiations success increases with a variety of perspectives and examination of underlying attitudes.
Boles, Terry, and Lon, Moeller. The Road to Success: Learning How to Become an Effective Negotiator. Kendal/Hunt Publishing Company, 2012.
De Girolamo, Debbie. "The Negotiation Process: Exploring Negotiator Moves through A Processual Framework." Ohio St. J. on Disp. Resol, vol. 28, 2013, pp. 353-386.
Michael, Alexa. Negotiation. CIMA, 2007, https://www.cimaglobal.com/Documents/ImportedDocuments/cid_tg_negotiation_mar07.pdf.pdf.
"Negotiation" Saylor, 2013, www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/BUS209-5.2-Negotiation.pdf. Accessed 9 May 2018.
Zohar, Ilana. ""The Art of Negotiation" Leadership Skills Required for Negotiation in Time of Crisis." Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol. 209, 2015, pp. 540-548.
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