Business Negotiation November 05, 2014

The Power of Competition

One would not normally think of competition as a factor in workplace negotiations. It’s not likely bargaining in the outside world where a single buyer with a large order has the advantage of six anxious salespeople ready to give in on the buyer’s every demand to win the contract...

One would not normally think of competition as a factor in workplace negotiations. It’s not likely bargaining in the outside world where a single buyer with a large order has the advantage of six anxious salespeople ready to give in on the buyer’s every demand to win the contract.  Yet competition is an important factor even in internal negotiations.

One or both opposing parties have many competitive interests they must keep in balance. In almost every organization, one party or both are loaded down with work.  Negotiation preparation and talk takes time, time that could be used in other ways.  That competition is keenly felt especially if talks drag on.

Some negotiations are very important to one side but have little priority value to the other. In a situations like that, the competition in priority or value might favor the party with the higher issue value.

Negotiators often come to the bargaining table with one issue or another to be settled. Many other problems remain to be addressed back at the office.  Getting the immediate negotiation over with quickly, for better or worse, may be a better choice than waiting for days for a superior outcome.  At least that would be one problem out of the way.

And, of course, there is competition within the organization itself. Some supervisors always want a larger portion of the department budget, some want a more up-to-date laboratory, some want their staff to get higher raises and some feel that their good work warrants greater rewards.

Competition exists at every level and affects every internal negotiation in a direct or intangible manner. Understanding the competition that exists and its likely effect on the balance of power between negotiators is part of the preparation process.
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