The negotiation ended with one of the parties walking out of the room and the problem had to be settled eventually by a ruling from management. This event also had a negative effect on the working relationships between members of the different groups in the debate.
What has become obvious to me since then is that negotiation is a process that requires sensitivity and a search for balance, rather than just an attempt to overwhelm the other party. It also requires intense focus and perception.
I noticed that many of the negotiators entered the process without having a concentrated and clear focus of their aims and not being fully prepared. I realized that the negotiation process can in fact be a very productive process and that it can help to solve problems through mutual understanding. I also came to the conclusion that communication skills are a vital part of the skills required to be a successful negotiator.
There are two fundamental negotiation theories and strategies. These refer to competitive positional negotiation and problem-solving interest-based negotiation. (Negotiation Theory) in modern negotiation theory there has been a trend to move beyond purely competitive negotiation. "…a great deal of effort and scholarship has been devoted to developing negotiation theory and practice to move beyond competitive negotiation and toward real problem solving." (Cronin-Harris, 2004) This refers mainly to interest -- based negotiation with an aim of solving problems rather than a competitive type of negotiation. This process is described as follows:
With problem solving, or interest-based bargaining, parties look at their underlying interests rather than merely asserting positions and demands. Together they search for solutions to meet those underlying interests while making concessions consistent with their own needs and concerns. (Cronin-Harris, 2004)
In theory, the problem-solving type of negotiation requires a certain set of skills and requirements. The negotiator needs to use his or her emotional intelligence to "…recognize that needs and interests frequently differ, and reflect different values, concerns, and motives." (Cronin-Harris, 2004) This type of negotiation strategy also goes beyond the money incentive in negotiations. While it obviously must include financial aspects, this form of negotiation sees money as only one part of the solution to the problem or issue that is being negotiated. This is expressed as follows: "Negotiation is a side-by-side dialogue where parties can trade on their differences, rather than a battle over a limited resource." (Cronin-Harris, 2004)
There are many other aspects to negotiation referred to in the theoretical literature. What is emphasized in many studies, for example, is the necessity for preparation before any serious negotiation process. Planning also involves a number of priorities; which include deciding on priority interests as well as assessing the priorities of the other party. (Cronin-Harris, 2004)
c3. Improvement plan
One do the aspects that I would need to concentrate on in improving my negotiation skills is critical thinking. This implies a rational and logical approach that takes into accout different variables and options in the negotiation process.
However this is only one side of the process. Other aspects to focus on would be linked to emotional intelligence and communication. These are vital areas in the process of negotiation that is aimed at solving problems. I would therefore possibly take a training program in the enhancement of communication and interpersonal techniques, with the aim of improving my negotiation abilities.
The above factors would be included in an overall personal program that would also take into account the important aspect of preparation for any negotision. I would also ensure that the various priorities and desired outcomes of the negotiation are clearly outlined so that there can no areas of vague indecisiveness in the negotiation process.
What the above research has also made clear is that a skill such as negotiation is dependent on many other skills in leadership and management. This would include aspects of personal effectiveness as well as emotional intelligence. These skills are therefore interconnected and useful in the negotiating process.
Summary and Conclusion
In the above discussion a number of interesting and useful skills were discussed. These include the fact that professional skills need be worked at and studied. Both theoretical and practical aspects are needed in the development of these skills. For example, the discussion of negotiation skills and the difference between competitive negotiation and the problem solving approach to negotiation was an eye-opener to me. It made me realize that negotiation in business and in other contexts should be directed towards achieving an equitable balance in decision making and the working process. It also became evident to me that this approach required the use of more skills, especially with regard to the perception of the needs of others.
The above viewpoint can also be related to the concept of personal effectiveness. As noted in the above discussion on this issue, I found that communcistion and organization were important aspects of personal effectiveness can vary according to the individual and the requirements of the work environment. I found that communication skills were a vital element needed in order to understand the needs of others. This ability to communicate and perceive the attitudes and perceptions of others is an extremely useful skill to develop in the managerial and business milieu. For example, it is far more effective and productive in a negotiation process to work towards a settlement that satisfies all parties and which does not cause friction of divisiveness in the organization or the workplace.
The above can also be related to the concept of emotional intelligence. As discussed, this form of intelligence deals with the control as well as the expression of emotion. I found the concept of emotional intelligence to be extremely interesting and useful. It also made me aware of the face that the control of emotion in stressful situations was an area that required training.
In the final analysis it becomes clear from the above discussion and research that personal effectiveness, emotional intelligence and negotiation skills are important attributes that the modern manager and leader needs to acquire. It is also clear that these skills are not mutually exclusive and that there are many aspects that are interrelated. A study of these skills therefore opens up new avenues and possibilities in management.
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