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Fashioning an Effective Negotiation Style: Choosing Between Good Practices, Tactics and Tricks
Editor’s Note: Abramson points out that the term “style” in our field has two distinct connotations, because someone’s conflict style and their negotiation style can be different. He first recommends clearly analyzing and understanding your personal conflict style. Then he unpacks “good practices”, tactics and tricks as three key features of negotiation style to show, quite apart from questions of morality, how a negotiation style that does not account for your own conflict style will be less effective. At the same time, Abramson says, you need to invest effort in understanding your counterpart's negotiation choices, especially use of tactics and tricks, when fashioning your own effective negotiation style. This chapter should be read in conjunction with Liao on Style & Culture, Craver on Distributive Negotiation and Batra on Integrative & Distributive.
Oscar Wilde once wrote that, “In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing” (Wilde 1899: Act III.19). In negotiations, both count and are, in fact, interrelated. Style in negotiations combines strategies with sincerity and stagecraft. This chapter offers guidance for fashioning an effective style.
Because our negotiation style—the subject of this chapter—can be influenced by our personal conflict style—a subject widely examined in negotiation literature and trainings—the distinction between the two should be clarified to avoid confusion. Conflict style describes who we are; negotiation style describes who we want to be when negotiating.
Conflict style reflects instinctive responses; it describes how we each individually respond to conflict. We might be more comfortable avoiding conflicts or compromising, for instance, than being competitive. Conflict style is a product of our personal experiences, family, culture, genetics, and personality.1 It describes our default reactions to conflict. Negotiation style is different. It reflects conscious, deliberate choices among alternative strategies. It is the result of choices we make among good practices, tactics, and tricks (GTT), although our choices can be influenced by our personal conflict style.
This chapter focuses on negotiation style by examining good practices, tactics, and tricks, and the effectiveness of each one, including how bargaining power can affect the choices we make in negotiations. It then considers how our style for handling conflict needs to be understood and considered when forging an effective negotiation style.
Should you say what you really want out of a negotiation? Should you be nice or nasty? Should you exaggerate? Should you hide unfavorable information? Should you ever lie when negotiating? These questions and others hover over us as we negotiate. Long lists of choices in negotiations have been compiled and described in numerous books and articles on negotiation techniques [NDR: Craver, Distributive Negotiation]. The choices we make determine our negotiation style. This section provides a framework for classifying each choice into one of three categories-good practices, tactics, and tricks, and in so doing affords a method for analyzing the benefits and risks of diverse techniques. Assessing each choice is more important than correctly classifying it. This classification scheme is designed to facilitate thoughtful choices.
Good Practices, Including Justifications
Good practices (Abramson 2013) can be unconditionally used and will likely produce the best negotiated results. They include asserting your interests rather than your positions, advancing rational and principled justifications to persuade the other side, and engaging in reasonable information exchanges. They include acting ethically and fairly. They also include building rapport, relationships, and trust, and using effective communication techniques such as summarizing, paraphrasing, framing, and questioning. They can include using objective standards and searching for creative options. These sorts of negotiation practices...
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