Seven Elements of Effective Negotiation
Dispute mechanisms which are participatory, responsive and concerned with preventing relationships, are needed as alternative. They are of utmost significance not only to assist the courts but parties. Negotiation is the dominant element in the mediation process, and almost of every other dispute resolution mechanism. It is seen as one of the important legal methods of resolving conflicts at any level, especially when the autonomy is given to the parties. The Pepperdine University of USA developed the definition of negotiation as, “Negotiation is a communication process used to put deals together or resolve conflicts. It is a voluntary, non- binding process in which parties control the outcome as well as the procedures by which they will make an agreement. Because most parties place very few limitations on the negotiation process, it allows for a wide range of possible solutions maximizing the possibility of joint gains.” Therefore, seven elements of negotiation should be used for facilitating the communication process and making it more effective.
Relationship: “Am I prepared to deal with the relationship?”
The foremost element necessary to bring the parties together for negotiation is ‘Relationship’. The parties should be respectful, trustworthy and unconditionally constructive towards each other. They must plan and prepare to build and maintain a good working relationship which is needed to address differences and conflicts.
Communication: “Am I ready to listen and talk effectively?”
- Basic communication skills in negotiation
Parties should be an active listener in order to be a good listener and learn to acknowledge what has been said and felt. They should listen to understand and speak to be understood and for a purpose. Parties should speak about themselves and not about the other party to avoid out bursting and anger.
- Communication to gather knowledge and learn about their interests
The negotiators should ask empathetic or consequential questions to draw out the other side. He should also give time to time feedbacks and suggestions to the parties and should summarize the main points of discussion until the settlement.
Interests: “What do people really want?”
The negotiator should collectively identify and articulate the interests, concerns and needs of all relevant parties, especially when parties do not necessarily know all their interests. He should identify and prioritize the community interest together and identify the common interests as a basis to develop options.
Options: “What are the possible agreements or bits of an agreement?”
The parties as well as negotiator should try to design options, not positions. The options should be created to meet the interest of both the parties and to maximize joint gains for both.
Alternatives: “What will I do if we do not agree?”
Parties and negotiator must identify BATNA (best alternative to negotiated agreement) rather than WATNA (worst alternative to negotiated agreement). They should fully understand the implications, consequences, risks and costs of BATNA and should select and improve BATNA.
Legitimacy: “what criteria will I use to persuade each of us that we are not being ripped off?”
Fairness is a governing consideration. We should try and use external criteria and objective standards as a basis to legitimize your preferred options and as a shield against unreasonable proposals from the other side. We should use demonstrable “fairness” of the process and outcomes to persuade them of the merits of a proposal.
Commitment: “What commitments should I seek or make?”
We should get the commitments at the end of the negotiation process and not at the beginning. We should plan the timeframe and steps to implement the agreement anf indentify all implementation issues to be included in the agreement.
These seven elements should be followed by the negotiators or the parties to meet the interest of the parties which are demonstrably fair and doable. Hence, by following these elements we can reach up to a "Good Outcome".