When negotiators are people-focused, conflict would inevitably arise. A good negotiation can be achieved by being more solutions-focused (Fish & Ury, 1983). Fisher and Ury identified three problem areas that could prevent negotiators to overcome the first stage: conflicting perspectives, emotions, and communication. When negotiating, opposing viewpoints may arise. Hence, making an effort to understand the perception of the other party can help resolve the conflicting perspectives.
Emotions are also part of the negotiation process, and it is important to acknowledge and deal with them accordingly. For instance, there are negotiators that have trust issues, so they are assume the worst and are afraid of trusting the other party. Instead of disregarding these emotions, both parties must reassure both sides of their good intentions. Finally, the negotiators should learn to listen actively and focus on what the other party is trying to express. In this way, misunderstandings would be avoided and the best solution for both sides can be achieved (Fisher & Ury, 1983).
The second principle states that one should focus on the interests of both parties, rather than their positions. When negotiating, both parties may hold a position or stand. To reach an agreement that benefits both sides, it is important to understand why they hold such a position. Through this, both parties interests would be identified and understood. This is essential in order to come up with a solution that best satisfies the interests of both parties. The third principle requires a negotiator to invent options for mutual gains.
However, there are four obstacles that get in the way of generating creative options: premature judgment, searching for the single answer, assumption of the fixed pie, and thinking that solving their problem is their problem. The authors suggested several techniques to overcome these obstacles (Fish & Ury, 1983). Separating the process of developing options from the evaluation stage is the first technique. Both parties should cooperate in order to produce more possible solutions to the problem.
Brainstorming within the group can be best achieved by using four types of thinking: stating the problem, analyzing the problem, considering general approaches, and considering specific actions. Each side is encouraged to say their side regarding the problem. After a variety of proposals are set by both parties, they should evaluate these ideas. The evaluation process should begin with the most desirable proposals. In this way, both parties can improve and polish the proposals that fit the interest of both parties.
The key to convincing people to agree is to make their decision an easy one to make. The last principle states that the negotiators should insist on using objective criteria. In order to resolve conflicting interest, the authors suggest that both parties should develop objective criteria which can serve as reasonable standards which they can base their decision upon. With these standards, an agreement that benefits both parties would be reached. By reading this book, I realized that in a negotiation, everyone aims to get the best possible deal.
However, we should bear in mind that a negotiation does not only concern our personal interests; it involves the interests of everyone included in the negotiation. When ego and pride is involved, the negotiation will not succeed. Thus, there is no room for selfishness in negotiation. In addition, more problems would be settled and more deals would be closed if both parties put an effort to understand each other and find a solution that is mutually beneficial to them.
Fisher, R. & William, U. (1983). Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. New York, NY: Penguin Books.