Stepping into negotiations, I bring not only a genuine enthusiasm and passion but eagerness and love for the negotiation process itself as well. Sadly, high expectations can sometimes take a hit when we encounter puzzling or challenging behaviors from new counterparts. Thankfully, some quality scholarly advice on negotiation helps us to steer tricky settings and, with this foundation of passion and insight, let’s explore the competitive negotiators and the unexpected advantages they can offer.

While the virtues of cooperative negotiation, like problem-solving, mutual gains and relationship building.. are well-known, encountering a highly self-interested counterpart might initially seem like a setback, right?

However, surprising insights from a study by Sinem Acar-Burkay, Vidar Schei and Luk Warlop suggest otherwise. Their research, published in the ‘Group Decision and Negotiation’ journal, reveals that pairs composed of one Individualist and one Cooperative negotiator often achieve the most favorable outcomes, both: Economically and Relationally.

In their experiment, business school students negotiated under different motivational conditions. Interestingly, mixed-motive pairs not only secured immediate economic benefits but also preserved strong relational ties, evident from their continued willingness to collaborate months later.

This interesting dynamic suggests, that combining cooperative and competitive strategies can be highly effective. Especially, if you are aware of that fact.

The presence of distinct motivations can lead to a balance where competitive negotiators encourage more assertive value-claiming from their cooperative counterparts, while cooperators bring a value-creating perspective, enhancing overall outcomes. Adapting to both, competitive and cooperative approaches can enrich our negotiation tactics, turning apparent challenges into opportunities for mutual benefit. Here’s the link:

Building on our understanding of competitive dynamics, we now turn to the challenges posed by insincere negotiators, whose motives can reshape the negotiation process.

When launching negotiations, it’s very natural to hope for a counterpart as committed to a successful outcome as we are. Yet, this isn’t always the case, as noted by Polly Kang from the Wharton School, Krishnan S. Anand from the University of Utah, Pnina Feldman from Boston University, and Maurice E. Schweitzer, also from the Wharton School, in their enlightening study.

They explore how some parties enter negotiations with hidden agendas, not aiming to close a deal but to glean proprietary information or gain other strategic advantages.

Their research, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, uncovers tactics used by insincere negotiators. These include stalling, asking tangential questions and other methods to prolong negotiations without the intention to agree. For instance, companies may enter talks to extract competitor insights or consumers might negotiate to leverage better deals elsewhere, as seen in Amazon’s strategic engagement with numerous cities vying for its second headquarters.

Kang and her colleagues conducted experiments where they set up buyer-seller scenarios with different underlying motives. They found, that while insincere buyers often employed delaying tactics, some still reached agreements.
Interesting and in practical fact demonstrating the complex nature of -Negotiation Dynamics.

The researchers also highlighted the ‘agreement bias’ namely the tendency to conclude deals even when no agreement is necessary or beneficial.

To counter insincere tactics, the study suggests being cautious of partners who unduly slow down negotiations or seek excessive concessions. Legal mechanisms like earnest money in real estate, or nondisclosure agreements in corporate negotiations, can help ensure that parties are genuinely interested in reaching a consensus.

For a more in-depth look into these strategies and findings, you can refer to the full study here: This link provides access to the detailed research and methodologies used in uncovering the nuances of insincere negotiation tactics offering few valuable insights for anyone looking to sharpen their negotiation skills and -safeguard their interests.

Transitioning from the strategies to handle insincerity, we now address another complex aspect of negotiations: Dealing with notably.. difficult personality types and behaviour, to put it gently.

At times, you might find yourself facing a counterpart whose behavior seems extreme and dysfunctional. According to Marc-Charles Ingerson and Kristen Bell DeTienne of Brigham Young University, Jill M. Hooley of Harvard and Nathan A. Black of the University of Iowa, written in the “Negotiation Journal – “Dealing with Dysfunction: Negotiating with Difficult Individuals” an estimated 10% of working adults exhibit personality styles or behavioral tendencies that significantly challenge interactions. These can range from odd quirks to full-blown personality disorders.

While it’s crucial to avoid playing armchair psychologist, just understanding the few basics and most common difficult personality styles can be beneficial. This knowledge helps us “gauge” whether to proceed with a negotiation and how best to adapt to various behaviors. Here’s an overview of four challenging personality types encountered in negotiations and as per in the named Negotiation Journal contribution:

Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Individuals with high narcissism often struggle with empathy and may focus excessively on seeking admiration. They can, however, also display desirable traits such as charm and assertiveness.

Antisocial Personality Disorder: Often successful in business settings, these individuals might engage in deceitful or exploitative behavior. It’s generally advised to approach them cautiously, preferably in team settings which they might find daunting.

Borderline Personality Disorder: Marked by emotional instability and poor self-image, those with borderline personality disorder may react intensely in negotiations. Maintaining a calm, structured approach can help in managing interactions with them.

Passive-Aggressive Behavior: Those who exhibit passive-aggressive behavior may obstruct negotiations subtly while maintaining an outward appearance of cooperation. Clear, direct communication and careful documentation are key in dealing with such individuals.

Understanding and adapting to these complex behaviors can significantly enhance your effectiveness in negotiations, ensuring you deal these challenging interactions with tact and insight, because..

“The true measure of our negotiations isn’t only found in the quality of agreements we reach, but in the personal growth we experience and the high values values and standards we bring to the table.”

Negotiation strategies are far from a “one-size-fits-all” solution; instead, they are profoundly shaped by our unique personalities and the array of experiences we accumulate over our lifetimes. Gaining an understanding of popular models of conflict and bargaining styles, such as those put forth by Thomas-Kilmann and G. Richard Shell, can greatly enhance our ability to navigate not only our own tendencies but also effectively influence those of our negotiation partners for the better.

Like the well-known Thomas-Kilmann model, Shell’s framework sorts negotiators into five primary styles: accommodating, compromising, avoiding, collaborating, and competing. Shell notes that individuals often display a mix of strong or weak preferences across these strategies, which significantly shapes their approach to bargaining in different contexts.

No single style ensures negotiation success; each comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. For example, accommodators are typically excellent at building relationships and tuning into others’ emotional cues—a significant advantage in negotiations. However, their focus on relationship maintenance may sometimes overshadow the more strategic aspects of negotiation, potentially making them vulnerable to more aggressively competitive tactics.

A frequent error in negotiation is the assumption that others share our styles, which can lead to significant misunderstandings and miscommunications. For instance, a competitive negotiator might view a cooperative counterpart’s openness as deceptive, potentially exploiting it, leading to conflict and feelings of betrayal.

To avoid such pitfalls, Shell suggests initiating discussions on less critical issues to carefully gauge counterparts’ styles. This tactic helps determine whether they lean towards cooperation or competition, allowing for better strategic adjustments without trying to change their inherent nature.

Despite the apparent rigidity of our natural negotiating styles, Shell asserts that we can enhance our negotiating effectiveness by adopting four key practices, all of which resonate with my personal experience:

Thorough preparation.
Setting ambitious goals.
Listening intently to gather crucial information.
Upholding the highest standards of integrity to maintain a strong reputation.

These habits can significantly refine the negotiation skills of individuals from any field, including those from high-stakes, competitive industries like Oil & Gas. Having undergone transformative education at institutions like Harvard, I’ve found these insights not only applicable but crucial in evolving my negotiation capabilities.

Conflict naturally arises from our interactions, as no two individuals have exactly identical expectations and desires. We can analyze an individual’s approach to conflict along two dimensions:

Assertiveness: How much a person tries to satisfy their own concerns.
Cooperativeness: How much a person attempts to accommodate the other’s concerns.

From these dimensions, we identify the five distinct conflict-handling modes, with each of us capable of employing any depending on the situation, yet often favoring certain modes over others due to our temperament and experiences.

Here’s a more detailed look into each mode to give you a clearer understanding of how they can be effectively utilized in various negotiation and conflict situations:

Competing: This mode is highly assertive and minimally cooperative, focusing on one’s own needs at the expense of others’. It is suitable for situations where decisive action is necessary, such as during emergencies or when urgent decisions need to be made. Competitors tend to take a firm stand, which can be effective when defending important issues but may lead to conflict if overused.

Accommodating: In contrast to competing, accommodating is highly cooperative but not assertive, prioritizing the other person’s needs over one’s own. This mode is useful when the issue matters more to the other person than to oneself, or when preserving harmony is more important than winning. While accommodating helps in maintaining relationships, excessive use might lead to being overlooked in decisions.

Avoiding: This mode involves neither asserting one’s own interests nor cooperating to satisfy the other’s. Avoiding can be effective when the stakes are low, or when more important issues need attention. It can also prevent unnecessary problems when time is needed to gather more information or cool down heated emotions. However, consistent avoidance might lead to unresolved issues accumulating.

Collaborating: Combining assertiveness and cooperativeness, this mode aims for a win-win situation where the needs of both parties are met. It is ideal for complex scenarios where both sides’ stakes are high. Collaborating involves understanding and integrating different viewpoints, which can lead to innovative solutions and strong partnerships.

Compromising: This mode is moderately assertive and cooperative, seeking a quick resolution that somewhat satisfies both parties. It is practical when a temporary solution is needed or when equal power dynamics prevent one side from dominating. Compromising can resolve conflicts efficiently by ensuring that all parties give and take somewhat, but it might not always be the most satisfying or enduring “root cause” solution as it often involves each party making concessions.

Finally, the picture for this post shows my own, actual TKI profile after thorough exploration of my conflict-handling styles through the Thomas-Kilmann Instrument. This assessment provides a nuanced view of how I tend to manage conflicts, showing a strong preference for accommodating and collaborating. This suggests I’am often considerate of others’ needs and strive for cooperative solutions, which can be highly effective in maintaining relationships and ensuring team harmony. My approach likely helps in creating an environment where all parties feel heard and valued, contributing positively to conflict resolution processes. Anyhow, the effectiveness of a given conflict-handling mode depends on the requirements of the specific situation and the skill with which you use that mode. I’am capable of using all five conflict-handling modes; I cannot be characterized as having a single, rigid style of dealing with conflict, or, to put it easy: It’s much about your developed levels of Adaptiveness! However, most people use some modes more readily than others, develop more skills in those modes and therefore tend to rely on them more heavily. Many have a clear favorite. The conflict behaviors I use are the result of both, my personal predispositions and the requirements of the situations in which I find myself.

Generally, a good understanding of conflict-handling styles can be a valuable tool in both, personal growth and professional development as well, aiding in better decision-making and relationship management across various situations.

Conflict resolution is the process —either formal or informal— used by two or more parties to achieve a peaceful, stable and perceived fair solution to a dispute. This process is crucial in navigating the numerous cognitive and emotional pitfalls that can deepen conflicts, many of which we might not even consciously recognize.

Self-Serving Fairness Interpretations: Often, individuals assess fairness not from a neutral standpoint, but based on what most benefits them. For instance, it’s common for department heads to believe they deserve a major portion of the annual budget. This biased view of fairness can lead to intense disputes as each party justifies their skewed perceptions as equitable.

Overconfidence: There’s a common tendency to overestimate one’s judgment accuracy, leading to unrealistic expectations about the outcomes of disputes. Such overconfidence can be seen when parties assume favorable outcomes in legal battles, potentially dismissing settlement offers that might otherwise save time and money.

Escalation of Commitment: In situations ranging from labor strikes to corporate mergers or even everyday workplace disagreements, there is a tendency to irrationally escalate commitment to a chosen path, often quite well beyond its utility. This can manifest as an attempt to recover past investments (like money spent on legal fees), without recognizing that these sunk costs should not influence future decisions.

Conflict Avoidance: The discomfort and distress from so-called “negative emotions” might lead some to suppress these feelings, hoping they will subside over time. However, this often results in the conflict becoming more entrenched, necessitating even greater need for effective conflict resolution strategies as the emotional stakes rise.

Understanding these dynamics is essential in setting up a constructive conflict resolution framework. Effective resolution can take several forms, depending on the context and needs of the parties involved:

Negotiation: Drawing on collaborative negotiation principles similar to those used in dealmaking can be highly effective. Key strategies include exploring the underlying interests behind the parties’ positions, such as the desire to avoid negative publicity or to mend a business relationship. It is also critical to determine your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) —which is your Course of Action should negotiations fail, like partnering with someone else or pursuing legal action. Through creative brainstorming and seeking mutual, fair concessions, it’s often possible to reach a satisfactory resolution without external intervention, anyhow, there are:

External Negotiation Benefits: From own experience, here are three stressable reasons to employ an external:

Objective Insight and Fresh Perspective: External negotiators come without the “baggage” of internal politics or prior engagements with the involved parties. This fresh perspective enables them to see the heart of the conflict more clearly and propose unique, innovative solutions that internal parties might overlook. Their objectivity helps in identifying the true interests and needs of each party, leading to more sustainable and satisfactory resolutions.

Emotional Detachment: One of the major advantages of an external negotiator is their emotional detachment from the conflict. Internal stakeholders often have emotional investments that can cloud judgment and exacerbate conflicts. An external negotiator handles the situation without any personal stakes, allowing for a more rational and calm approach to negotiation, reducing the risk of decisions driven by emotions rather than hard facts.

Expertise and Experience: External negotiators often bring specialized knowledge and skills honed through handling a variety of conflicts across different industries. This expertise enables them to employ proven strategies and tactics that internal parties may not be aware of or skilled in. Additionally, their experience with similar disputes can provide valuable insights into what strategies might be most effective in a given situation, including knowledge of legal implications, which can be crucial for complex cases.

One Real-World Example: Consider the case of a large corporation facing a potential strike from its workforce. By bringing in an external mediator, the company was able to negotiate a compromise that addressed the workers’ key concerns while also maintaining operational efficiency, showcasing the value of external expertise in resolving conflicts that have both: Immediate and long-term implications.

Final Offer Arbitration (FOA): FOA presents a unique and high-stakes challenge for negotiators, especially when tasked with finding a resolution that not only satisfies immediate needs but also remains robust and adaptable over time. The core challenge in our FOA service is the requirement to select one of two proposed final offers in its entirety, which adds significant pressure! to devise a solution that anticipates and aligns with future possibilities and changes.

FOA Risks: While FOA can encourage fair and reasonable proposals by limiting the choices to the final offers submitted, it also poses risks. Its rigidity can be a drawback in situations where the dynamics are likely to change over time, making it less suitable when flexibility and adaptability are crucial. Negotiators must be extremely cautious and insightful when formulating these offers, as the decision is binding and allows little room for adjustment as future circumstances evolve.

FOA Clarifications: In Final Offer Arbitration (FOA), the role of the negotiator is generally confined to preparing the most reasonable and fair final offer, as the arbitrator chooses directly between the final offers presented by the parties involved. Typically, once these final offers are submitted, there is no provision for amendments unless both parties mutually agree to make changes before the arbitrator makes a decision.

The structure of FOA is designed to encourage both parties to submit their best possible offer initially, due to the risk associated with the arbitrator choosing the other party’s offer instead. This can lead to a more expedient resolution process but also introduces certain limitations. Namely the inflexibility of not being able to amend an offer after submission means that negotiators must be very forward-thinking and strategic in their initial proposals. They must anticipate future changes and conditions that could affect the agreement and incorporate flexible elements that can adapt over time.

Therefore, while FOA can streamline negotiations and help avoid prolonged disputes by forcing parties to make reasonable and fair proposals from the start, it also places considerable pressure on negotiators to get it right the first time, as there is little room for later adjustments unless both parties agree​.

Having a skilled negotiator engage with each participant before they submit their final offers in a Final Offer Arbitration (FOA) scenario can significantly enhance the quality and fairness of the offers made. Here are three key benefits of such pre-offer discussions:

Clarification of Interests and Priorities: A skilled negotiator can help each party clearly articulate and define their interests and priorities. This clarification process ensures that the final offers are not just about winning the immediate dispute but are aligned with long-term goals and needs. By understanding what truly matters to each side, a negotiator can guide the parties to formulate offers that are reasonable, fair and likely to be viewed more favorably by the arbitrator.

Mitigation of Emotional Decisions: Negotiations, especially high-stakes ones, can be somewhat emotionally charged, which might lead to less rational decisions. A skilled negotiator acts as a buffer, helping to temper emotions by providing an external, objective perspective. This can prevent the escalation of commitment to unwise courses of action, reduce the influence of biases like overconfidence and encourage each party to approach their final offer with a more nuanced, balanced, thoughtful and “vented” mindset.

Enhancement of Collaborative Proposals: By engaging in discussions with each party, a skilled negotiator can foster a more collaborative environment. This approach encourages parties to consider not only what they need to gain but also what the other party needs to accept the offer. Such collaboration can lead to the development of creative, mutually beneficial solutions that might otherwise be overlooked. Negotiators can help identify potential trade-offs and integrative solutions that maximize value for all involved, making the final offers more appealing and sustainable.

Arbitration Process: In arbitration, which sometimes involves a retired judge acting as an arbitrator, decisions are typically binding and confidential, and faster than traditional litigation. Although generally, there is no allowance for appeals, parties can sometimes negotiate limited appeal rights within their arbitration agreement, enhancing the fairness and robustness of the process.

Call to Action: As we explore these conflict resolution strategies, I encourage you to reflect on your current approach and consider whether integrating new methods like FOA or external negotiation could enhance your resolution outcomes. Are there areas in your conflict resolution strategy that could benefit from a fresh perspective or specialized expertise?

By considering these insights and examples, you can better deal with the complexities of conflict resolution and enhance your ability to steer professional relationships in a cooperative, trustful environments.

Have you ever found yourself in a negotiation, presented with an offer that (later) objectively seems fair, but something about it just doesn’t sit right with you? You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you’re inclined to reject the offer simply -because it came from the other side. If this sounds familiar, you’ve likely experienced a psychological phenomenon known as “Reactive Devaluation” which I learned about first time during my MIT Sloan negotiation course.

Reactive Devaluation is like the invisible “Elephant in the Room” of negotiations. It’s a cognitive bias that causes us to devalue proposals, not based on their actual merit, but just because they come -from someone we perceive as an adversary. It’s like receiving a beautifully wrapped gift, but because it’s from your annoying neighbour, you’re immediately convinced it must be a box of crap..

Understanding Reactive Devaluation:

Let’s take a real-world example. Imagine you’re negotiating a business deal. Your counterpart, who you’ve had some disagreements with in the past, makes a proposal. The proposal is objectively fair, and under normal circumstances, you would accept it. However, because of your past experiences and the fact that the proposal comes from them, you automatically -devalue it. You’re more likely to reject it or demand more, NOT because of the proposal’s content, but because of -who it’s coming from.

This, in essence, is Reactive Devaluation at play.

Now, you might be thinking, “Well, that’s just being cautious, right?” Not quite.

Reactive Devaluation can lead straight to missed opportunities and prolong conflicts, even when a mutually beneficial resolution is within reach. It’s like refusing to take a lifeboat from a sinking ship because you don’t like the person offering it.

Now that we’ve identified the invisible Elephant in the Room, let’s discuss how we can guide it towards the exit. Overcoming Reactive Devaluation isn’t about winning or losing; it’s about ensuring that the negotiation process is fair and productive for all parties involved. Here are some strategies to help you navigate this tricky terrain:

  1. Awareness is Key: The first step in overcoming Reactive Devaluation is recognizing it. Being aware of this bias can help you question your initial reactions to proposals and evaluate them more objectively. It’s like having a mental referee who blows the whistle when your biases start to play foul.
  2. Emphasize Common Goals: Framing the negotiation as a joint problem-solving process can help reduce the perception of the other party as an adversary. It’s like turning the negotiation table into a team huddle, where everyone is working towards a common goal.
  3. Use Objective Criteria: Basing your proposals on objective criteria or industry standards can make them more acceptable to the other party. It’s like using a universally accepted recipe in a bake-off, making it harder for others to reject the delicious cake you’ve baked.
  4. Third-Party Involvement: Sometimes, having a neutral third party can help facilitate the negotiation process. They can provide an outside perspective and help parties evaluate proposals more objectively. It’s like having a neutral judge in a talent show, ensuring that the best performance wins, regardless of personal biases.
  5. Delay the Proposal: If possible, delay making your proposal until after some discussion has taken place. This allows the other party to feel heard and understood, which can make them more receptive to your proposal. It’s like warming up before a workout, preparing your body (or in this case, the negotiation) for -the mainevent.

Reactive Devaluation is a common, often unconscious, bias that can hinder the negotiation process. But with awareness and the right strategies, you can ensure it doesn’t derail your negotiations. So, the next time you find yourself instinctively devaluing a proposal, take a moment to consider whether the invisible elephant has entered the room. And if it has, take your time. It is simply awareness and the factor of Time that separates any (emotional) reaction from a real, well considered Reply the negotiation process itself and our counterpart deserves.

“When the pressure is on, you don’t rise to the occasion. You fall back to your highest level of preparation” it is said and awareness plus the strategies around “Reactive Devaluation” are worth to be baked in.

Have you ever thought about how the Second Law of Thermodynamics applies to our negotiations as well? I recently came across a fascinating blog article by German psychologist Roland Kopp-Wichmann, titled “Man, Woman, Relationships – and the Second Law of Thermodynamics”. The article uses this law – the principle that everything tends to get worse over time without active intervention – as a metaphor for relationships. Just like a car, garden, or house, relationships require regular maintenance and attention to thrive. This concept can be applied to negotiation relationships, especially when we move into Partnership or SMARTnership which, quite naturally, require ongoing attention, care, and honest effort to sustainable maintain, here are some valuable insights:

The Interplay of Personal and Professional Life

Kopp-Wichmann emphasizes the interconnectedness of personal and professional life. As negotiators, we must recognize that our personal emotions and unconscious biases can influence our professional interactions. By acknowledging this interplay, we can better manage our emotions and approach negotiations with a clear, focused mind.

Active Maintenance in Negotiations

Just as a garden or a house requires regular maintenance to thrive, so do our negotiation relationships. Without active intervention, relationships can deteriorate over time – a concept mirrored in the second law of thermodynamics. As negotiators, we must continually invest time and effort into maintaining our important relationships, ensuring they remain strong and productive.

Communication: The Heart of Successful Negotiations

The article highlights the importance of open, honest, and regular communication in maintaining a healthy relationship. This is a key skill for negotiators, who must be able to effectively communicate their needs, understand the needs of others, and find common ground. Regular check-ins, active listening, and clear communication can help prevent misunderstandings and build trust.

Avoiding Projection in Negotiations

Kopp-Wichmann warns against the danger of projecting unresolved personal issues onto one’s partner. In a negotiation context, this serves as a reminder to be aware of our own biases and not to attribute them to the other party. By recognizing and addressing our own issues in time, we can approach negotiations with a clear mind and a fair perspective.

Balancing Emotion and Strategy in Negotiations

The article distinguishes between love, which is spontaneous and unpredictable, and partnership, which involves conscious decisions and negotiations. This balance between emotional connection and strategic decision-making is crucial in negotiations. While emotional intelligence can help us understand and connect with others, strategic thinking allows us to always make decisions that perfectly align with our goals.

By understanding the interplay of personal and professional life, actively maintaining our relationships, communicating effectively, avoiding projection, and balancing emotion and strategy, we can become more effective human beings and negotiators. As the second law of thermodynamics reminds us, maintaining a system requires honest effort – but the results are well worth it.

So, how will you apply the Second Law of Thermodynamics to your next negotiation?

In negotiations, the concept of value often takes center stage. Traditionally, this value is viewed in objective terms – the tangible benefits and outcomes that one or both parties gain from the negotiation. However, a deeper dive into the art of negotiation reveals a more nuanced perspective, one that recognizes the importance of subjective values. This is the perceived value that each party derives from the negotiation process, which can significantly influence the overall outcome and future relationships.

Subjective value in negotiation is multifaceted, encompassing roughly four distinct types: instrumental, self, process, and relationship. Each of these elements plays a significant role in shaping the negotiation experience and its perceived value.

Instrumental Subjective Value

Instrumental subjective value refers to the perception of the tangible outcomes of the negotiation. It’s not just about the final agreement, but how each party individually perceives the benefits they’ve gained. To enhance this, it’s crucial to understand the other party’s needs and interests. This understanding allows you to craft proposals that not only meet your objectives but also align with the other party’s goals, thereby increasing the perceived value of the outcome. This approach, known as interest-based negotiation, encourages parties to explore underlying needs and desires, leading to creative solutions that can maximize mutual gains. Additionally, employing objective standards and benchmarks can help ensure perceived fairness, further enhancing the instrumental subjective value.

Self Subjective Value

Self subjective value is about the negotiator’s self-perception during and after the negotiation. It involves feelings of competence, pride, and the sense of behaving appropriately. To foster this, avoid dwelling on your victories and instead, acknowledge! the good points made by the other party. This approach not only maintains the other party’s pride but also creates an environment where both parties can express their arguments without fear of immediate contradiction plus it allows the other party to feel competent and respected. Furthermore, adhering to the norms of negotiation and respecting the hierarchical dynamics can help negotiators feel they are behaving appropriately.

Process Subjective Value

Process subjective value pertains to the perceived fairness and efficiency of the negotiation process. Active listening plays a significant role here. By expressing genuine curiosity and attentiveness about the other party’s perspective, you can make them feel heard and valued. Additionally, giving the other party a sense of control over the process can enhance their perception of fairness. Striking a carefully considered balance between not agreeing too early and not quibbling for too long will also help maintain a process that feels neither too easy nor too difficult.

Process subjective value is about the perceived fairness and efficiency of the negotiation process. It’s about feeling heard and treated fairly, and that the process is neither too easy nor too difficult.

Relationship Subjective Value

Finally, relationship subjective value focuses on the impact of the negotiation onto the relationship between the parties. To foster relationship subjective value, negotiators could focus on establishing rapport early on and finding common ground. Expressing genuine curiosity about the other party can help build a positive impression. Moreover, focusing on similarities can foster trust and a good relationship. Lastly, making the negotiation process enjoyable can increase the likelihood of future negotiations.

While these four types of subjective value are distinct, they are also interconnected. A negotiation typically is not just a one-time transaction but a complex process that can shape relationships and future interactions. Therefore, it’s essential to consider all these aspects while trying to strike a balance between them.

Recognizing and fostering subjective value in negotiations will lead to more satisfying outcomes and stronger relationships. It’s not just about the objective gains but also about the perceived value of the process and its impact on the parties involved. By understanding and applying these principles, we transform the Art of Negotiation into a more rewarding, welcomed, and enriching experience plus we achieve the desired outcomes more easily and ensure a satisfying, fair, and relationship-enhancing negotiation process and a valuable contribution to the development of one’s own negotiator personality.

Here’s a recommended reading for those want dive deeper:

In the world of negotiation, understanding human behaviour is critical. Robert Cialdini, a prominent social psychologist, identified six principles of influence that can play a crucial role in these scenarios. These principles – reciprocity, commitment (or consistency), social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity – have evolved in their application in today’s interconnected society.

Reciprocity is a fundamental aspect of human interaction. In negotiation, this principle can be effectively applied by initially asking for more than what one needs, then making a concession to what one genuinely needs. This tactful concession can lead your counterpart to feel the need to reciprocate, making them more likely to accept your proposal.

Commitment or Consistency is another powerful tool in negotiation. People tend to stay consistent with their past commitments. By getting your counterpart to agree to something small initially, they’re more likely to agree to more significant requests later on due to the desire to stay consistent with their initial commitment.

Social Proof becomes increasingly influential in the age of social media and digital connectivity. People often gauge what’s right or desirable based on what others perceive as right or attractive. In a negotiation, providing evidence that others are interested in or have benefited from your offer can make it more appealing to your counterpart.

Liking is an underpinning of successful negotiations. It’s no surprise that people prefer to say yes to those they know and like. Building rapport, finding common ground, and creating positive interactions can foster liking, making your counterpart more likely to agree with you.

Authority plays a significant role in shaping people’s decisions. People are more likely to agree to those they perceive as having authority, power, or extensive knowledge. Demonstrating your authority, expertise, or experience can give you a considerable advantage in a negotiation.

Scarcity brings into play the psychological bias where people assign higher value to opportunities that they perceive as scarce. In a negotiation, creating a sense of scarcity, such as through time-limited offers or highlighting the uniqueness of the opportunity, can make your offer more attractive.

These principles are not just theoretical; they have practical applications across various facets of life and work. For instance, salespersons often use props to make their pitches more effective and memorable, which is a perfect blend of the principles of ‘Liking’ and ‘Social Proof’​1​​2​.

However, while these principles can be highly effective at times, they also raise important ethical considerations. Are they brilliant tactics or unfair manipulation? I believe the answer lies in how they’re used. If applied with respect for the other party’s autonomy and well-being, they can be powerful tools for achieving mutually beneficial outcomes. However, if used to deceive or exploit, they can be considered manipulative and unethical.

Would I use them in negotiations? Yes, but with caution. I would strive to apply these principles ethically, with the goal of creating win-win situations. For instance, I might use Reciprocity by offering valuable information or assistance, hoping to foster goodwill and cooperation. I could use Scarcity by emphasizing the unique benefits of my proposal and the opportunity cost of delay. However, I would avoid creating false scarcity or pressuring the other party into hasty decisions.

The article “Investigative Negotiation” from Harvard Business Review presents a comprehensive approach to negotiation, emphasizing the importance of understanding the other party’s perspective. Here are the key concepts:

  1. Understanding the Other Side’s Motives and Goals: The first principle of investigative negotiation is to understand why the other party wants what they do. This involves digging for information and thinking like a detective. Inaccurate assumptions about the other side’s motivations can lead to proposing solutions to the wrong problems, needlessly giving away value, or derailing deals altogether.
  2. Identifying Constraints: The second principle is to figure out what constraints the other party faces. Often, when your counterpart’s behavior appears unreasonable, their hands are tied somehow. You can reach an agreement by helping overcome those limitations.
  3. Interpreting Demands as Opportunities: The third principle is to view onerous demands as a window into what the other party prizes most. This information can be used to create opportunities.
  4. Finding Common Ground: The fourth principle is to look for common ground. Even fierce competitors may have complementary interests that lead to creative agreements.
  5. Staying at the Table: The final principle is to stay at the table and keep trying to learn more, even if a deal appears lost. Even if you don’t win, you can gain insights into a customer’s future needs, the interests of similar customers, or the strategies of competitors.

The article also provides several examples to illustrate these principles, emphasizing the importance of asking questions, mitigating the other party’s constraints, interpreting demands as opportunities, creating common ground with adversaries, and investigating even if the deal seems lost.Here’s the full article: