Negotiation is the art and science of finding a way to agree between two or more groups. All of us know how to negotiate, we do it constantly during our days; between family, friends, colleagues, retailers, etc. Essentially, we are performing a communications duty that is part of group behavior. We use our communications tools -- both verbal and non-verbal, to express a viewpoint, to elicit a response, and to find a way to cooperate. Individuals who wish to improve their negotiating skills have a number of tools they can use. One of these, the Personal Bargaining Inventory, measures the five cognitions and their range of importance to the individual:
Planning -- Anticipation, rehearsal, monitor a plan in advance how conversations will occur.
Presence -- Awareness of the other's reactions, how to change resistance, etc.
Modeling -- Sizing up the environment, paying closer attention to how others are reacting and responding, interaction variables.
Reflection -- Reflecting on the way communication occurs, learning how to improve one's own presentation by constantly self-critiquing, reflecting on other person's views.
Consequence -- what are the consequences of how things are interpreted, why I have said and how others' interpret me
In scoring the Personal Bargaining Inventory, I find that my highest scores come into Reflection Cognitions and my lowest in Consequence Cognitions. This may be the result of personal communication styles I have adopted or of ways that I have found are easier to form consensus and an ability to improve over time. Looking at a continuum, we see my scores thus:
If we look at the results we can see that there are clearly three separate "sections" within my rubric of skills. Group 1, my lowest, consists of Consequences and Presence; Group 2, midrange, is Modeling, and Group 3, the highest, is both Planning and Reflection. Looking at these objectively, we might find that:
Group 1 -- Consequences and Presence are really focused more on the outcome of an individual situation and the other, rather than the self. This style seems to be far more concerned with the manner of how other people are interpreting what is being said as opposed to actually what is being said, the purpose of the conversation or negotiation, or even how the sender (me) is expressing information. Percentage wise, I scored about 30% lower in this grouping, telling me that I am less worried about spending the focus of the conversation on interpreting other views during the conversation.
Group 2 -- Modeling is about mid-range for me, telling me that there are aspects of this cognition that I have and hold, but that it is not dominant as a style for me. Again, modeling seems more externally oriented: looking at the environment, watching what people are doing during meetings, trying to interpret signals. In many ways, this form of cognition takes away from the message because it focuses on the ancillary events that work within the conversation. Trying to interpret why people are rustling papers, etc. seems futile since there are no absolutes in human behavior.
Group 3 -- The top two paradigms for me are internally focused and more akin to my taking personal responsibility for what I say and do. In Planning I do wish to rehearse topics, what might be brought up, what is important, what I can study and monitor, and how I might anticipate different audience's reactions to my views or style. I know I have a tendency to reflect, or self-critique; which can be both a great strength and/or a great weakness. It is strength when it allows me to view what I said, review it to understand how things could have gone better, and do what I can to continually improve my performance. It is a weakness when too much self-reflection becomes too analytical in that one can review situations ad naseum to the point of impotence. One must act, certainly with the notion of improving, but also with the understanding that improvement and change are on a sliding and constant scale. For me, I believe that the tendency towards reflection cognition means that I constantly think about my prose, tone, syntax, and body language and -- based on planning for divergent audiences, seek to find ways that I might be more effective in future conversations and negotiations. The weakness here, I believe, is perhaps not taking enough of the audience or other person's feedback into consideration during this self-reflection and failing to make enough of a plan based on what I hear and observe (See: Richmond & McCroskey, 1998).
Negotiation Plan Improvement Program
Areas of Strength
Planning and Organization
Areas Needing Improvement
Reading the audience
Reading the venue
Outcome of the situation
Body Language Messages
Tone, timbre, syntax interpreted by receivers
Overview of issues
Collaborating vs. negotiation -- I need to move to a more genuine collaborative model of communication that invites the other person's viewpoints openly. Collaboration is more of a process in which two or more people see different aspects of a problem and yet can find ways to solve the situation that go beyond their own individual methodologies and viewpoints. Negotiation, however, is more of an interpersonal decision-making process in which people agree how to allocate resources. I need to approach situations more collaboratively so that it is not just my own performance and expertise that helps the situation, but more involvement from the audience, colleagues or those on the receiving end of the communications (Schuman, 2005).
Distributive bargaining -- Avoid a zero-sum game; one person's gain does not necessarily need to be another person's loss -- it can be win-win for all.
Integrative bargaining -- Increase this win-win behavioral strategy so that it is far more collaborative than conflictual. This can be accomplished by learning to read the audience and venue more and increasing empathy.
Reading the Audience (Stanley, 2008)
Enter the room/venue and psychically engage everyone in the room; direct energy and attention to the person or area in which the inattention arises; watch the body language of the audience and gauge the effect presentation is having -- mitigate by adding or reducing humor, sarcasm, and skipping issues and focusing on other; find leaders in the group and particularly pay attention to them
Come into the venue or room; smile and spend a bit of time looking at everyone in the room -- make at least a few seconds of eye contact. Watch for those who are watching you -- smile; encourage the audience by finding hot buttons and playing to certain individuals in the audience; encourage nodding of heads and be vibrant so people sit forward in their seats.
Reading the Venue
Look at how the room or space is organized, look for potential dead spaces and pitfalls, try to find and plan places to walk so audience follows you; look for opportunities to engage audience more personally.
Arriving early to a meeting, ensured that there were sufficient chairs for the conference table, and that no one would be left out of the space. Moved waste containers around so that I could walk around the table; placed information on all the black or wipe boards so that audience would follow me around.
Outcome of the Situation (Doyce, Love, & Hyer, 2004)
Work to tailor presentation so that people are separate from the problem; Do not confuse perceptions with reality and do not deduce the other point-of-view ahead of time; work backwards; if we want X, then frame strategies toward X.
In a strategy meeting on a new product I focused on interests of a broader base of consumers rather than the departments participating. Found options for mutual gain and trust, and engendered acceptance of the new situation based on ways to get…