Positional Negotiation

Violent altercations quickly turn into conflict, often resulting in stalemate or conflict. If you don't have a good mouth or you feel uncomfortable, you quickly give up and think: never mind. Everyone in their immediate environment has examples of discussions that do not go well and may degenerate into tension and conflict. Opinions are put on the table without progress.

It seems increasingly difficult to conduct a constructive dialogue; there is a lot of positional negotiation

Positional discussions are a recognizable phenomenon, especially in the business (public and private) and political environment. In debates, consultations and so-called dialogues, we soon find ourselves at odds with each other. Politicians who use war language and others who take a stand against it. The society and business environment seem hardened. We quickly make up our minds, are even faster on our toes and irritated, or we give up. It is no longer about the facts but often about managing  imaging. 'Fake News' is the order of the day. Positions are taken constantly and call up counter positions.

The law of the fittest seems to be reigning again, while at the same time we are in a world that demands cooperation, and there is scarcity (environment/energy) in many areas and solutions other than the usual are needed. It seems that we only have two tastes: fight or flight.

 

Taking the time to think about your response, not responding for a while, and see what the best solution is: we often find it difficult to enter into a good dialogue. The trick is to settle a difference of opinion or conflict with words and to continue the dialogue constructively.

Positioneel Onderhandelen

The law of the fittest seems to be reigning again, while at the same time we are in a world that demands cooperation, and there is scarcity (environment/energy) in many areas and solutions other than the usual are needed. It seems that we only have two tastes: fight or flight.

 

Taking the time to think about your response, not responding for a while, and see what the best solution is: we often find it difficult to enter into a good dialogue. The trick is to settle a difference of opinion or conflict with words and to continue the dialogue constructively.

How are you in it? Do you mainly want to win?

From what conviction do you view your negotiation challenges?  Do you mainly want to win, and you don't care how? In other words, there's a pie that needs to be divided and you're going to see if you can get the biggest piece. Often positions are taken, people do not agree with you and other positions are put on the table and it becomes tug of war and a game of 'handshakes'.

Your beliefs color your outlook, your thinking, and the way you act. They (un)consciously color your preparation, tactics, strategy and your perception of the achieved result. A much-heard negotiating paradigm is 'win as much as you can'. You are in it to win the match, perhaps at all costs (positional bargaining). Negotiation is therefore primarily a distribution issue and you want to have as much as possible. The cake has a fixed size and must above all be divided (fixed pie). More for one means less for another, so the strongest gets the most. You don't see or appreciate the importance of the relationship. If both parties act on the basis of 'I am central, I want more than you', things quickly clash and a stalemate arises.

 

The question is, of course, whether you are serving your interests by acting in this way. Is maximizing profit (which hurts the other person) in the short term in your interest if you also want to do business in the longer term? Or can the cake be enlarged so that there is more left over for the various parties? And if the pie cannot be enlarged, do you want to look constructively together at solutions that are desirable and feasible for both, or do you mainly go for yourself?

People regularly seem to choose (un)consciously between the relationship on the one hand and a good deal on the other. The relationship gets no attention and the focus is on getting the right deal. You want to win that match. The 'winner takes it all' does not seem a tenable approach at the moment.

Onderhandelen de taart vergroten

'Win as much as you can' (positional negotiation) or working together constructively (constructive negotiation)?

Me or us?

Some will say that the answer to this question depends on the situation. You can probably imagine something with that. If you have many alternatives, it may be reasonable to put pressure on the other person so that you 'get the most for your money'. You often see this in all kinds of tenders and purchasing processes: requests that do not only look at money, but also a lot. Everyone will have experienced that you can put pressure on the other person for better conditions (often lower prices), but whether this also serves your interests (certainly in the long term) is the question. There's nothing wrong with cutting edge negotiation. The main question is where your boundaries lie, both substantively and relationally.

 

In practice, there are all kinds of interesting examples of partnerships in which the parties attach importance to each other and are actually important to and dependent on each other. A partnership in which the costs of getting rid of each other can also be high. Yet you see that all kinds of games are played that cause tension and conflict, while you really need each other very much.