Negotiation is made up of five steps; - Preparation and planning – before you start negotiating, you need to do your homework. What is the nature of the conflict? What is the history leading up to this negotiation? Who is involved and what are their perceptions of the conflict? What do you want from the negotiation? Once you have gathered your information, use it to develop a strategy. As part of your strategy, you should determine yours and the other side’s best alternative to a negotiation agreement.
- Definition of ground rules – Once you have done your planning and developed a strategy, you are ready to begin defining the ground rules and procedures with the other party over the negotiation itself. Who will do the negotiating? Where will it take place? What time constraints, if any, will apply? To what issues will negotiation be limited? Will there be a specific procedure to follow if an impasse is reached? During this phase, the parties will also exchange their initial proposals or demands.
- Clarification and justification – When initial positions have been exchanged, both you and the other party will explain, amplify, clarify, bolster, and justify your original demands. This needn’t be confrontational. Rather, it is an opportunity for educating and informing each other on the issues, why they are important, and how each arrived at their initial demands. This is the point at which you might want to provide the other party with any documentation that helps support your position. - Bargaining and problem solving – The essence of the negotiation process is the actual give-and-take in trying to hash out an agreement.
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This is where both parties will undoubtedly need to make concessions. - Closure and implementation – The final step in the negotiating process is formalizing the agreement that has been worked out and developing any procedures that are necessary for implementation and monitoring. For major negotiations-which would include everything from labour-management negotiations to bargaining over lease terms to buying a piece of real estate to negotiating a job offer for a senior management position-this requires hammering out the specifics in a formal contract.
For most cases, however, closure of the negotiation process is nothing more formal than a handshake. Conflict is inevitable in organizations because they function by means of adjustments and compromises among competitive elements in their structure and membership. Conflict also arises when there is change, because it may be seen as a threat to be challenged or resisted, or when there is frustration – this may produce an aggressive reaction; fight rather than flight. Conflict is not to be deplored.
It is an inevitable result of progress and change and it can and should be used constructively. Conflict between individuals raises fewer problems than conflict between groups. Individuals can act independently and resolve their differences. Members of groups may have to accept the norms, goals and values of their group. The individual’s loyalty will usually be to his or her own group if it is in conflict with others. Workplace Mediation The primary goal of workplace mediation is to leave the parties better able to work together.
Many disputes arise out of a failure by either party or both parties to communicate, understand or consider the needs and interests of the other. People fix their attention on the question, “who is right and who is wrong? ’ and become blind to the possibility that both may have a legitimate point of view. The mediator’s task is to open communications between them about the reasons for the positions they have taken with each other, helping both parties to understand as fully as possible each person’s view.
The mediator encourages both to look at the dispute through different lenses: • What do they think will work as a practical matter? • What do they think will be fair? • What do they think will best honor and promote a good working relationship? As the parties gain an expanded understanding of the situation, their ability to work together to find and implement a solution increases. Virtually any difference that arises in the workplace can benefit from mediation if the parties are willing to deal directly with each other and if the company has the resources to provide a mediator.
Indeed, over time, a workplace in which mediation is the preferred or presumed dispute resolution mechanism is likely to become a workplace in which colleagues and coworkers need less assistance in working through differences and being able to be natural collaborators. Effective workplace mediation can improve morale and productivity within the workgroup. When mediation is supported and used as a method of conflict resolution, employees tend to feel more valued and “heard” by the employer.
Mediation of workplace disputes is a way of the future. It achieves the most satisfactory, timely and cost-effective resolution of disputes. It is also helpful in creating a collaborative workplace culture. References Graham, J. (1985) The Influence of Culture on Business Negotiations. Journal of Intercultural Business Studies, Spring, pp 81-96 Glenn, E. S. (1977) Cultural Styles of Persuasion. Journal of Intercultural Relations, Fall 1977, pp 52-66 Pondy, L. R. (1967) Organizational Conflict: Concepts and Models.
Administrative Science Quarterly, September 1967, p302 Putnam, L. L. and Poole, M. S. (1987) Handbook of Organizational Communication: an interdisciplinary Perspective. Sage, Newbury Park CA, pp 549-599 Robbins, S. P. (2009) Organizational Behaviour,13th ed. Pearson International Edition. Upper Sadle River, pp517-546 Thomas K. W. (1992) Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 2nd ed. Vol 3. Consulting psychologists Press, Palo Alto, CA. pp 651-717 Wall, J. A. (1985) Negotiation: Theory and Practice. Foresman, Glenview.
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