Separating the Person from Their Negotiating Position

While most differences at work concern facts or ways and means, many also involve group goals and values.

For example, a purchasing team, including an engineer, is set up to reduce the cost of an anticipated project overrun. The team, anxious to meet the goal, wants to negotiate a very low price with the supplier of the key component. The engineer assigned to the team vehemently disagrees with so low a price. He reminds his associates that a more important goal, project quality, will be placed in jeopardy by pursuing such a low price on so high a component quality specification.

A complex goal negotiation with lots of crucial tradeoffs is sure to follow.

More difficult than negotiating diverse objectives is the negotiation of different values.

A management team of executives is organized to develop corporate personnel policies. Each member has a mind of their own and the confidence to express their preferences. What kind of people should or should not be recruited? Should a group be laid off every year to clear out those less capable?

Negotiations between team members that involve values make for emotional give and take and heated sessions.

Differences between people are influenced by their perceptions. If they saw things the same way, then they would find it easy to agree.

The job of a good negotiator is to help both parties see the major factors influencing the agreement in reasonable, comparable terms.

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