Discussion: Dimensions of Negotiation

In your course text, Bernard Mayer defines negotiation as “an interaction in which people try to meet their needs or accomplish their goals by reaching an agreement with others who are trying to get their own needs met” (p. 214).* The challenge of negotiation is evident in the definition because it can be difficult to meet the needs of two parties who have conflicting needs. Negotiation is one form of conflict resolution. Your course text provides details about two sets of approaches to negotiation. The first set is distributive and integrative.(Your course text addresses these under the section titled, “The Dimensions of Negotiation,” and refers to them as “dimensions” and/or “approaches,” while the course uses the term “approaches”). Distributive and integrative approaches refer to the structure of the negotiation. With distributive negotiation, one party gains more than another as a result of the negotiation. This approach often is often considered to be a win-lose approach. Integrative negotiation, on the other hand, results in both parties meeting their needs to at least some degree, thus being considered a win-win approach.

The second set of approaches is, in your course text, termed “positional” and “interest-based.” Rather than reflecting the structure of a negotiation, these labels refer to tactics and attitudes. In positional negotiation, the focus is on proposed solutions the involved parties already have in mind. In interest-based negotiation, the focus is on the needs of the parties and solutions are sought to address these needs. Positional negotiation often is equated with a distributive approach. Interest-based negotiation is often equated with an integrative approach. The approaches and sets of approaches may overlap in practice, and multiple approaches may be used at different times during the same negotiation.

Roger Fisher and Daniel Shapiro, co-authors of Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate, suggest that negotiators focus on five core concerns: appreciation, affiliation, autonomy, status, and role. Addressing appropriate concerns helps parties to experience positive emotions which may lead to a successful outcome.

*Note: Keep in mind, as stated in the Course Introduction, concepts are used and defined differently in the field of conflict resolution.

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