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Dilemma's in onderhandelen

Dilemmas in negotiation that you always encounter

When you observe how people deal with each other during negotiations, the same dilemmas seem to play out to a greater or lesser extent. These dilemmas are of all ages and cultures. If you recognize what is happening and can deal with it, you may be able to stay relaxed and increase your agility. We express them here as extremes, because you can, as it were, be tossed back and forth between these poles. These dilemmas are experienced by both you and the other and play around your negotiation challenge.

How do you view yourself and each other and how do you treat each other?

1. Do you look at each other through hostile or friendly glasses?

This dilemma is about communication and the relational dynamics between people. Wasn't it Einstein who said, "If you consider the environment hostile, you are hostile to each other." If you look at the other person through a friendly lens, you usually treat the other person constructively. You often don't know the people you deal with (business) well and you wonder how you should treat each other. Cultural differences can also play a role in this, which can make it extra complicated. Do you look out of the woods and keep your distance, or do you try to quickly establish a rapport? You have to deal with this issue in teams, towards colleagues, managers and clients.

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How do you deal with information and trust?

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2. Do you trust or not the information that is exchanged?

A deepening of the first dilemma is whether or not trust is present. On what information do you make a decision? Do you look through rose-colored glasses and can everyone be trusted until proven otherwise, or do you assume that no one can be trusted? A tricky dilemma. You have probably heard the following statement from an external party: “We also did this last time and that is not going to work.” How about: “You are much more expensive than the competition.” And: “I still have to discuss it internally, but take it from me: that will be fine.” Or internally, colleagues who indicate that the deadline will be easily met, that you will receive your report on time, or that the project is going well. In both ex- and internal negotiations you come across situations where you think: is this correct or is there perhaps a game being played? And if you doubt that, you will simply experience the dilemma personally: do you still trust the other person?

How do you want to play the game?

3. Hard, positional or open and constructive?

How do you position yourself in a negotiation? So it is and nothing else, is it swallow or choke? Or do you go into it with an open mind, see what's coming your way and then assess how to proceed? Are you open about your interests, or not because they can be abused? A tricky dilemma: how do you position yourself, how do you position yourself? This plays a role in all kinds of decision-making processes. Opinions are posited that seem cast in concrete. Positions are involved and positions harden so that stalemates arise. Who takes the first step and what does it say about your credibility if you have to make a turn?

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How do you arrive at solutions?

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4. Together or alone?

It is often said that whoever makes the first proposal is strong. But is that true? The first proposal is often  The starting point during the negotiation and therefore it certainly has an influence. The question is whether a proposal is a starting point for a good dialogue, or whether it is the beginning of another common pattern: you submit a proposal, it is rejected, you have to refine it, it is not enough, you reaches a limit and it is swallow or choke. Or is there a willingness to look together at what is best for both? Is there a will to investigate together how the most value can be added? In dialogue you know more and a solution can become more beautiful. How do you deal with this dilemma? People can be hesitant and often don't want to talk about it together. Sometimes they are not allowed to talk to you, because a process has been agreed in which no dialogue is allowed between parties. In any case, the reflex seems great to put the other to work and to make a proposal. Likewise the other way around. The other party thinks: as long as I have that proposal there, it will be leading. That way you can keep each other busy.

Distribution issues often cause tension. How do you divide?

5. Do you use reasonableness as a starting point or is there no reasonableness?

Who gets what and who takes what? How do we divide the benefits and the burdens? There is almost automatically tension on the distribution issues, especially when you are confronted with people who want to have as many lusts as possible and who want to shift the burden. Also in partnerships you see that pressure is exerted to get the most out of the negotiation. Many see negotiation primarily as a distribution issue in which they mainly want to win, often at the expense of the other. As a result, this dilemma can be experienced as very unpleasant. Do you divide based on the biggest mouth, power, strength or emotions, or do you look for what is reasonable in the situation?

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Who has the power?

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6. Are you dependent or independent of the situation?

How are the relationships? What is your position in relation to each other? Where does the power lie and how much do you and the other want to come to a deal? Do you want or do you have to? Is the other more powerful because it is a larger party? You can feel small and vulnerable in advance, even though you are actually strong. The degree of (in)dependence colors your negotiation. Where are the limits, where do you go and let it come?

Who takes the lead, when and how?

7. Do you take responsibility for the process or do you leave it to the other person?

You do not want to appear too controlling, but you do want your interests to be served. Perhaps you expected the other person to lead the meeting, but it doesn't happen. Not adequately in any case, and you see that your interests are not being served. Nobody knows where he stands. Can you intervene? Are you legitimized? When and how do you structure the things you do? Especially if there are multi-level and party negotiations going on. How do you make it a process and what steps are you going to take? And if the process stagnates, what do you do?


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These dilemmas are experienced even more in a playing field where complexity increases: when interests increase, more parties play a role and people negotiate on behalf of parties. After all, they also have their own interests. Our negotiation training ( Constructive Negotiation ) gives you the answers to the question of how to deal with these dilemmas. You will be introduced to a mindset and skillset (negotiation techniques) that have been developed from the Harvard method .

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