We understand that conducting contract negotiations can be overwhelming at times. Emotions can run high, and one party may feel as though their ideas are not being heard. Learning to approach talks in a more positive way, using principled negotiation, will help to avoid conflict. When you are at the negotiating table and you see there are options for you both to get what you want, it’s an idea time to use principled negotiation.
The Definition of Principled Negotiation
Principled negotiation is an approach that resolves disagreements between parties. It is also referred to as a “win-win” outcome. It focuses on bettering the interests of everyone and finding solutions that are mutually beneficial. Principled negotiation can help people achieve objectives and satisfy expectations by removing the “all-or-nothing” attitude. Consider these guidelines to ensure your negotiations go as smoothly as possible.
Separate Emotions from the Problem
Sometimes, emotions can cloud negotiations. If you feel as though you are at a disadvantage, you may react defensively. During any mediation, it’s important to maintain composure and not be influenced by fear or anger. Principled negotiation draws on principles instead of opinions. Seeing each other as partners will help keep the lines of communication open between parties.
What Is Most Important?
Instead of focusing on winning your position, start by discussing common interests you share and specific details of agreement during negotiations. From there, identify the interests of each party. You may discover that the underlying motivations of both parties are similar and will allow you to stay focused on the solutions instead of the problems.
Use Objective Criteria
If there is a strong conflict between the parties, using objective criteria may be useful. Objective criteria can include scientific evidence, legal rulings, industry standards, and cost estimates. For example, if purchasing property is under negotiation, presenting the market value of comparable properties in the area will validate the price. The goal is to establish a fair outcome.
Make Options Available
Think beyond having only one avenue for settling conflicts. Instead, generate diverse options to reach solutions. During brainstorming sessions, propose ideas that will offer mutual gain and refrain from judging. Consider ideas that are more important and more widely used. Begin with the most promising ideas and don’t get hung up on small discrepancies. Keeping an open mind to all ideas presented is key and prevents hindering the negotiations.
Again, a win-win situation is the ideal for principled negotiations. Deny the temptation to pressure the other party to accept your terms. Pressure from either side is considered a power tactic. The great thing about principled negotiation is that it works even if you’re the only one practicing it. If the other party does not use principled negotiating, its tools still have power at the negotiating table. Instead of responding to attacks, redirect to solve the problem. Do not take it as a defeat if you need to walk away from a mediation.
However, no one should walk about from the negotiations feeling as though they had to make a sacrifice. Principled negotiations won’t work for every situation. Scenarios that may not be a good fit for principled negotiation are:
- When one party is set on winning at the other party’s expense.
- When negotiating for inexpensive, widely available products that do not have a significant role in business.
Keep in mind: with proper principled negotiation tactics in place, both parties can get what they want – a win-win and a desirable outcome for all.