Negotiation

The Place of Negotiation in Alternative Dispute Resolution

Negotiation simply refers to the act of communicating with another for the purpose of reaching an understanding presumably beneficial to both parties. Negotiation is the consensual bargaining process in which the parties attempt to reach an agreement on a disputed or potentially disputed matter.

Negotiation can be said to be the wheel upon which consensus building can be achieved. It is the indispensable tool in the attempt by disputing parties to reach a resolution, which is beneficial to both parties.

It is not being suggested here that negotiation is only between disputing parties, the mere acts of buying and selling; making a choice of where to have lunch or even where to go on vacation gravitate towards the art of negotiation.

Without skills and tact, negotiation would most likely degenerate to a war of words. Click To Tweet

Negotiation is largely a voluntary process. It is a strategy pursued by choice.

It is an indispensable tool to dispute resolution, one without which no agreement can ever be reached between two disputing parties.

THE NATURE AND ART OF NEGOTIATION

Negotiation is said to be an art because it is conducted with great skill to achieve the desired result. Where negotiation is conducted without the necessary skill and tact, it could and most likely would degenerate to a war of words and sometimes a shouting match.

People negotiate all the time. It is human nature and is conducted at all levels of the human relationships and endeavour.

Essentially, negotiations occur for one of two reasons.

  1. To create something new that neither party could do on his or her own.
  2. To resolve a problem or a dispute between parties.

The essential element in the negotiation process is the interdependence of parties involved because in negotiation parties need each other. The structure of interdependence between different negotiating parties determines the range of possible outcomes of the negotiation and suggests the appropriate strategies and factors that the negotiator uses.

To resolve an issue, you must understand the interest of negotiating parties. Click To Tweet

One potential result of interdependence is conflict. Conflict can be due to a misunderstanding that occurs between two or more people.

WHAT IS CONFLICT

Conflict has been defined as an antagonistic action and is usually a product of a perceived divergence of interests. And it exists every day and everywhere.

There are various classes of conflict and they are:

  1. Intra-personal conflict
  2. Inter-personal conflict
  3. Intra-group conflict
  4. Inter-group conflict

Conflict usually arises as a result of a perceived divergence of interests.  Consequently, an understanding of the interest of parties at a negotiation table is paramount to a resolution of such issue.

NEGOTIATION PROCESSES

In the negotiation process, one can be faced with negotiating one issue or several issues. When faced with negotiating just an issue, it is sometimes pretty straightforward. However when negotiating several issues, it is advisable that nothing is agreed until all the issues have been agreed upon. It is believed that all issues are somewhat linked together and that the resolution of difficult issues can be achieved by trade-offs on simpler issues. It is only in this manner that an agreement acceptable to all can be achieved.

AGREEMENT

Reaching an agreement is the end result of the negotiating process. In every negotiating process, the parties are always under pressure to reach an agreement.

There are always two pressures on a negotiator and they are:

  1. The uncertainty as to what the other negotiator’s exit point is (i.e. the limit on any offer they make)
  2. The need to reach an agreement quickly before you are squeezed too close to your exit point

Reaching an agreement involves closing a negotiation. Once an agreement has been reached the negotiation comes to a close.

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