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Distributive Negotiation Techniques
Charles B. Craver
Editors’ Note: Interest-based negotiation, transformative approaches to mediation, and other relatively recent and enlightened doctrines have created wide enthusiasm among negotiators and negotiation students. They continue, however, to bump regularly into forms of “reality” that are less appealing. In particular, there is no practical way to ensure that you will find yourself dealing only with people who have the same progressive worldview towards joint gains that you may have. In this chapter, a veteran teacher dispassionately dissects no less than 28 different varieties of “hard bargaining”, and describes how to defend yourself in each case (or even, for those so inclined, how to prosecute these techniques.)
Amid the enthusiasm for integrative negotiation and other elements of cooperation, it is easy to overlook the reality that many if not all negotiations include at least an element of hard bargaining, as the bargainers determine how to distribute the items on the table (Karrass 1970). To accomplish their goals, negotiators employ various distributive techniques. And even if you stoutly maintain that you would never do some of these things, you still need to know them—because in an uncertain world, one thing that can be predicted with certainty is that sooner or later, every one of the following 28 techniques will be used by someone you are negotiating with. You need to recognize the tactics being employed to enable you to effectively counter them. In this chapter, we will explore the various bargaining techniques persons are likely to encounter.
When individuals prepare for bargaining interactions, they must think about the techniques they should employ during their encounters, and the ones they think their counterparts may use. When they decide which tactics they should employ, they must consider three critical factors. First, which ones would suit their own personalities. If they are laid back persons, they would not feel comfortable using adversarial techniques, while if they are aggressive people, they would not feel comfortable using more subtle tactics. The second factor concerns the personalities of their counterparts. Against polite and cooperative counterparts, they would be more likely to resort to less adversarial techniques, but when they interact with highly competitive individuals, they might have to use more aggressive tactics to counteract the behavior of such persons. The third factor concerns the particular bargaining situation involved. If they possess substantial bargaining power, they may resort to techniques they would be unlikely to employ if the other side possessed more power.
1. Articulation of Principled Positions
Persuasive negotiators begin with the articulation of principled positions that logically explain why they deserve what they are offering or seeking. This approach bolsters their confidence in their own positions, and undermines the confidence of less prepared counterparts. They are also prepared to begin with carefully planned concession patterns (Freund 1992). They also plan to make principled concessions which they can rationally explain to their counterparts. This lets those persons know why they are making the precise position change being articulated, and indicates why a greater concession is not presently warranted.
Position changes must be carefully formulated and tactically announced. A thoughtful concession can signal a cooperative attitude and can communicate the need for the other side to provide a counteroffer if the process is to continue. No matter how planned concession patterns may be, negotiators must remain flexible, since they are never sure how their counterparts will respond to particular position changes. If persons on the other side make generous position changes, negotiators should consider increasing their aspirations in recognition of the fact their counterparts may think they deserve more beneficial terms than they initially contemplated. On the other hand, if their counterparts make small position changes, they must be patient in recognition of the fact it may take a lot of time for those persons to move a sufficient distance to make mutual accords possible.
2. Manipulation of Contextual Factors
Some individuals endeavor to gain a psychological advantage at the bargaining table by their manipulation of the contextual factors. They...
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