One of the most important factors influencing the perspective of both parties in negotiation is where they sit; that is, what their area of responsibility is.

If I am responsible for cutting costs on a project, and your idea, good as it is, increases costs, then I am likely to resist your idea. Our feelings about the issue in dispute affect how we perceive the opposer’s proposal or idea.

If I have seen an idea like the one you are favoring fail in the past, then I will be skeptical that yours could succeed. If, however, I perceive you to be a highly competent professional, then I might give your approach the benefit of the doubt.

Our personal motivations, concerns and ambitions also condition our responses to and acceptance of whatever is offered or set forth. If I believe that what you say will help my career, I will lean toward it. If it jeopardizes my job, I want no part of it.

If we both enjoy the same communication and information channels, we are likely to hold similar viewpoints. The same is true if we share a common cultural background and beliefs.

It is obvious that these factors play a role in exacerbating or narrowing differences at work. The best way to reach agreement is to give thought on these driving forces when differences arise and to speculate how they may be affecting the issues under consideration.

The worst approach is to stigmatize the other party and close your mind to their point of view and driving forces. Yet that is exactly what so many of us do when differences with others happen.

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