Negotiation is the process of getting what you want for what you want. Negotiation happen everyday in every facet of life. But when representing a country, it is a huge responsibility. Because when we represent a country, the country pride is at our shoulder. It will be more important if we are going to negotiate with other countries as it will affects the relations between countries in the future, and it will be watched closely by the international community, So what determines whether negotiation is successful or a failure?
One of the key tools to success is quantity and depth of preparation you undertake before sit down with your counterparts to discuss your deal.
Negotiation has two outcomes you either get what you want (for what you want) or you fail. Failure could result in both failing to obtain what you want or trading over. Negotiation is typically seen as a four stage process, the first step and perhaps the most important step in negotiation is preparation.
A negotiation can be won or lost in the preparation phase.
Effective negotiation involves thoughtful planning and preparation. Along with good negotiating skills of the negotiators at the bargaining table, good research analysis is an important determinant of a negotiation outcome. But what does preparation entail? Simply put its knowing what you want, what you wont accept and factors that might influence the outcome of the deal. According to Saner (2000), the three major phases of the negotiation life cycle are: Planning, Action and Assessment.
The Planning process actually takes place before the major phase, i. e.
Action, which is literally the negotiation period among the parties. The Planning phase includes identifying the problem area and awareness of conflicts, analysis of need and identifying the interests of the stakeholders, selecting the objective and strategy, selection of tactics and knowing the opponent. The Assessment phase consists in the evaluation of the negotiation, which determines whether the negotiation is complete or there is any scope for a future negotiation. Each negotiation is going to be different, no matter how often we’ve addressed similar situations.
We will always be negotiating with people who have different styles, goals and objectives, and who are coming from different circumstances and have different standards. So, always take stock and gauge each negotiation as something unique. There are basically two types of conflict situations we may encounter in a negotiation. Conflicts can present themselves singularly, or may be a mixture of the two. It is vital that the negotiator carefully analyze the conflict issues, both individually and collectively, to fully appreciate the unique challenges they present.
By analyzing the types of conflict into categories, negotiators can have a better understanding of the real measure of the disputes, and frame or focus their strategies more effectively. There are only two reasons why we enter into a negotiation. The first reason occurs when out of necessity, we have to. This could be due to either some immediate need, such as urgency to find a particular supplier, or it could be that we face severe cutbacks in personnel, if we can’t increase our business. The second reason occurs when we are seeking out an opportunity.
This situation may arise simply because an opportunity has sprung up, where we can increase our overall business at an opportune time. The reason for entering into a negotiation will affect both our approach and strategy, and also our relative negotiating power in comparison to our counterpart. We also need to ask ourselves whether the results of the negotiation we are conducting, will affect other negotiations or agreements later. Countries today have international interests. An agreement with the particular country, may affect how talks will impact or be influenced, with negotiations that will transpire later.
With other countries, it’s vital that we, as negotiators, consider the impact or consequences of an agreement in developing our strategy. We either enter into negotiations because we have to, or because we want to. Part of our strategy will involve a careful analysis of our BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement). If an agreement is absolutely essential, and we have few alternative options, in the event of talks collapsing, this will affect our strategy. Or, if the negotiated agreement is not essential because we have a strong option, and can walk away with confidence, this also influences the approach to our strategy.
Negotiations are often private affairs with little fanfare, until an agreement is signed. There are also agreements that are advertised afterwards, to maximize the mutual benefit both sides obtain. On other occasions, negotiations may be held in strict secrecy. Then, there are the highly publicized occasions when the press becomes actively involved. It could be that one of the negotiating parties uses the powers of the press, to lever an advantage to sway and manipulate the outcome.
We need only scan the daily newspapers, to understand the importance of how public involvement can influence and add intense pressure to some negotiations. The press can be utilized as a public forum to embarrass our opponents’ into action, or to deflect their strategy. Press releases are another means to use as an effective strategy in the negotiation process. Time has an impact on the course of negotiations from two perspectives. First there are deadlines that might be imposed, to either make or break an agreement. Offers with expiry dates may be tendered.
Secondly, we all know that ‘Time is money’. Negotiations use up time, and if a plant is shut down while the clock is ticking because of a strike, then this is costing money. Or, it could be due to some other resource issue, such as waiting for badly needed components, in order to resume production. The point to remember is that the longer the negotiations drag out; time will negatively affect the bottom line. But in a negotiation, everything can happen, so we must be ready if the negotiation process extends to a period of time. It can also take a long time for it to reach an agreement and finalized.
We should never automatically assume that a negotiation is going to result into a successful agreement. Always ask yourself, ‘Okay! If all else fails, what other choices or options do I have? ‘ This means that it is most desirable to have some options or alternatives to turn to when the talks collapse. To use the popular parlance of negotiation, this means we need to know our BATNA which is the acronym for Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement, a term popularized by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their best selling novel titled, ‘Getting to Yes – Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In’.
Knowing our own interests and figuring out their real interests is not enough. We can’t just make up a simple list and figure that’s all we have to do. We need to prioritize and rank this list according to importance. By understanding our own priorities and our counterpart’s priorities we can more effectively consider our concessions in terms of their strengths relative to each side. The idea is to give up on less important concessions which may have value to them, while getting the other side to give us concessions which are more important to us.
When agreement or conclusions have been reached and you are ready to end your negotiation, review the agreement that has been reached. Then, end your negotiation on a positive note. Commending those involved and emphasizing the progress made. Once you have reached agreement over the terms of your negotiation you must then close the deal. This can often be the cause of many frustrations and broken deals as once you have agreed a deal – how do you ensure it’s enforced?
Closing your negotiation implies that you will not improve your offer or you have what you want. It’s important to know when to do this as closing too early could alert your opponent into realizing the deal is not in their favor and they may attempt to pull out of the deal. Closing too late could have the opposite affect and you may end up trading over the odds, offering needless concessions which go against your original proposal.
As has been told earlier, preparation is the most important part of a negotiation. Be ready, because it will determine what will happen at the negotiation table. All of our action will be based on our preparation before the meeting takes place. When representing a country in negotiation, its not that we went there as an individual, but we are the representative of a country that want something or resolving a disputes with other countries that clearly will not just agree just like that.