Robert B. Maddux defines negotiation as “the process we use to satisfy our needs when someone else controls what we want” (1995, p.7). By this definition it can be reckoned that negotiation involves persuading people, attempting to resolve the differences, certain rules, impact on interpersonal relationships and may be driven by power, logic, emotion or a problem solving approach (Evans, 2003, p.13).
The history of negotiation is as old as the history of communication itself which can be traced back to the times immemorial. Although present as an abstract concept since long, negotiation was formally put into theory by the efforts of New York attorney, Gerard I. Nierenberg who after analyzing the absence of negotiation training established the first negotiation institute in 1966 and later published the first book on formal negotiation in 1968 (Negotiation).
There are several approaches to negotiations. Eric Evans points out four approaches which involve compromise, win/perceived win, win/ lose and genuine win/win. The approach of compromise is marked by a greater amount of difference between the two parties which leads to withdrawal from some demands by one or both the parties. The win/perceived win is the approach that is often considered as the win/win approach. In this approach, both the parties are not at a winning situation, however, it is marked by the perceived win of a losing party. The win/lose approach usually occurs when one of the two parties is at a greater giving end. The result of negotiation between such parties is a huge compromise made by one of the parties. The genuine win/win approach is the best approach considered by Evans since in this type of negotiation both the parties are satisfied to have been treated with justice. The aim of a good negotiator should be the attainment of a genuine win/win situation (2003, p.16-17). Other than the four approaches mentioned, some other authors mention the advocate approach to negotiation in which an adept negotiator is hired or consulted to settle the dispute between conflicting parties. Another unique approach is that of new creative negotiation in which the settlement is followed by a variety of creative options proposed by the members of the two parties (Requejo & Graham).
As the study of negotiation excelled over the last couple of years, concepts like BATNA and ZOPA emerged. BATNA stands for ‘Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement’ which stands for the alternative reserved for a worst case scenario that is a failure in negotiation. Parties with a well defined BATNA do not lose more than their capacity as the limits are estimated and drawn even before the negotiation had started (Venter). ZOPA stands for ‘Zone of Possible/Potential Agreement’. This zone is the overlapping region that is favourable to both the parties. For every party, there lies a reservation area or price. Once the ranges of reservation prices of both the parties fall in the same range, the zone of possible agreement is said to have taken place (Negotiation Institute Inc.).
Various styles of negotiation have been pointed out by Thomas and Kilmann. Competing style is the one which is marked by a tendency to compete in terms of getting advantage of the negotiation. Accommodating style is the opposite of competing where the party is excessively cooperative and might end up in a loss as a result of an agreement. Avoiding style is marked by uncooperative attitude. Avoiders are usually better off to walk out of negotiation to secure their interests and demands (Blitman, 2007). Collaborating style is marked by high level of cooperation with a genuine concern to make both the parties end up in a satisfactory agreement. The compromising style is market by an excessive concern to reach a mutual agreement and might want to lose more for the sake of a mutual agreement.
In the scene of human existence today, negotiation has become an inevitable part of our lives the application of which starts from homes to the professional lives. Understanding the art of negotiation in such a scenario is the only way out if the success in every walk of life is to be achieved.
Blitman, B.A. (2007). What Is Your Negotiating Style? Retrieved May 12, 2009, from
Broward County Bar Association, Web site: http://www.browardbar.org/articles/37.html
Evans, E. (2007). Mastering Negotiation. New Delhi: Viva Books (Pvt) Ltd.
Maddux, R.B. (1995). Successful Negotiation: Effective Win-Win Strategies and
Tactics. Boston, MA: A Crisp Fifty-Minute.
Negotiation Institute Inc. The History and Philosophy of Negotiation Training.
Retrieved May 12, 2009, from: http://www.negotiation.com/history-philosophy.html
Requejo, W.H. & Graham, J.L. Global Negotiation: The New Rules. Retrieved May
12, 2009, fromGlobal Negotiation Book Website: http://www.globalnegotiationbook.com/
The Negotiations Express. The Zone of Possible Agreement (ZOPA). Retrieved May
12, 2009, from: http://www.negotiations.com/articles/zopa/
Venter, D. BATNA Explained. Retrieved May 12, 2009, from The Negotiation
Academy Website: http://www.negotiationtraining.com.au/articles/next-best-option/