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Schools of Negotiation: A Short Overview

Before reaching a business agreement, you'll likely have to negotiate terms. Negotiation is a huge part of business life, and there's no shortage of things to know when it comes to learning how to negotiate. Negotiations can be collaborative or competitive, they can be geared towards claiming value or creating value, and they can be either distributive or integrative

There are a number of schools of negotiation, each with its own unique philosophy and approach. Negotiating styles can vary greatly between people. Being able to recognize each approach is paramount to navigating the world of negotiation successfully. 

The Main Schools of Negotiation

When preparing for a negotiation, it may be helpful to understand the key concepts of different approaches. By knowing the possible strategy being adopted by your negotiating counterpart, you might be able to swerve the conversation in a more desirable direction. 

The "I'm Only Asking for What's Fair" Approach

This approach focuses on abiding by industry standards and only asking for something within the limits of what's normal. In this way, it shifts the responsibility to the other party. After all, if they ask you to concede to a deal lower than the average standard, there must be some good reason for you to make such a compromise. 

The "Getting to Yes" Approach

The "getting to yes" approach puts an emphasis on objectivity and fairness. It seeks to remove emotions from the negotiation and focus on that which is of real interest. It operates by neutralizing conflict and employing basic principles of fairness. 

The "Offer-Concession" Strategy

This strategy benefits from making an offer that allows you to simultaneously allow concessions to the other party. The offers should give you a little leverage where concessions are concerned. It's ill-advised to disclose your bottom line right away. 

Knowing Who You're Dealing With

You may have one primary contact with the organization with whom you'll be negotiating. However, it's important to remember that the task of negotiating is often delegated. As such, it's important to parse your counterpart's constituencies thoroughly before entering into the negotiation. Understanding the person you're negotiating with will give you some leverage through the process. 

Present Your Contract With Professionalism

Presentation is extremely important in professional life. You wouldn't enter into an important negotiation in your casual weekend clothes. Likewise, when presenting a contract proposal, put your best foot forward. 

People notice fine details more than you might think, especially highly conscientious, detail-oriented business people. When preparing your contract proposal, format the text nicely and use an elegant font. Small writing generally looks more refined than writing that's too large. However, you don't want the letters to be so small that your counterpart has difficulty reading it. 

If you have multiple files, consider using a PDF file merger so you can send one file instead. 

Understanding the Different Negotiation Approaches

Being familiar with the various approaches of negotiation gives you the advantage of understanding your counterpart's angle. When you have an idea of what they're thinking, you'll be able to adapt accordingly, making the process smoother.

If you find these topics helpful, consider joining your local chamber of commerce. 


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