Sebastian Herrmann O2o1hzda7ie Unsplash

12 Best Approaches of Negotiation as a Pro


Examining the approaches to negotiation only gives us a static view of what is normally a dynamic process of change.

Negotiators have developed many schemes to describe the sequential development of negotiations. Some of them are descriptive (detailing the process made in each stage) while others are prescriptive (suggesting what a negotiator should do).

We prefer a twelve-stage process that combines problem-solving with the two approaches. Let us now look at the stages of negotiation most bargaining sessions follow.

Stage 1


  • Evaluate and select a strategy to guide problem-solving
  • Assess various approaches or procedures available for problem solving such as negotiation, facilitation, mediation, arbitration, court, etc.
  • Select an approach

Stage 2

  • Make contact with other party or parties or parties
  • Make initial contact(s) in person, by telephone, or by mail
  • Explain your desire to negotiate and coordinate approaches
  • Build rapport and expand relationship
  • Build personal or organizational credibility
  • Promote commitment to the procedure
  • Educate and obtain input from the parties about the process that is to be used.

Stage 3

  • Collect and analyze relevant data about the people, dynamics, and substance involved in the problem.
  • Verify accuracy of data
  • Minimize the impact of inaccurate or unavailable data
  • Identify all parties’ substantive, procedural and psychological interests.

Stage 4

  • Design a detailed plan for negotiation
  • Identify strategies and tactics that will enable the parties to move toward agreement
  • Identify tactics to respond to situations peculiar to the specific issues to be negotiated.

Stage 5

  • Build Trust and cooperation
  • Prepare psychologically to participate in negotiations on substantive issues. Develop a strategy to handle strong emotions
  • Check perceptions and minimize effects of stereotypes
  • Build recognition of the legitimacy of the parties and issues
  • Build trust
  • Clarify communications

Stage 6

  • Introduce all parties
  • Exchange statements that demonstrate a willingness to listen, share ideas, show openness to reason, and demonstrate a desire to bargain in good faith.
  • Establish guidelines for behavior
  • State mutual expectations for the negotiations
  • Describe the history the history  of the problem and explain why there is a need for change or agreement
  • Identify interests and/or positions.
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Stage 7

  • Define issues and set an agenda
  • Together identify issues to be discussed
  • Frame issues in a non-judgemental neutral manner
  • Obtain an agreement on issues to be discussed
  • Determine the sequence to discuss issues
  • Start with an issue in which there is a high investment on the part of all participants, where there is no serious disagreement, and where there is a strong likelihood of agreement.
  • Take turns describing how you see the situation. Participants should be encouraged to tell their story in enough detail that all people understand the viewpoint presented.
  • Use active listening, open-ended questions, and focusing questions to gain additional information.

Stage 8

  • Uncover hidden interests
  • Probe each issue either one at a time or together to identify the interests, needs, and, concerns of the principal participants in the dispute.
  • Define and elaborate interests so that all participants understand the needs of others as well as their own.

Stage 9

  • Generate option for settlement
  • Develop awareness about the need for options from which to select or create the final settlement
  • Review needs of parties which relate to the issue
  • Generate criteria or objective standards that can guide settlement discussions.
  • Look for agreements in principle
  • Consider breaking issues into smaller, more manageable issues and generating situations for sub-issues.
  • Generate options either individually or through joint discussions
  • Use one or more of the following procedures
  • Expand the pie so that benefits are increased for all parties
  • Alternate satisfaction so that each party has his/her interests satisfied but at different times.
  • Trade items that are valued differently by parties
  • Look for integrative or win/win options
  • Brainstorm
  • Use trial and error to generate multiple solutions
  • Try silent generation in which each individual develops privately a list of options and then presents his/her ideas to other negotiators
  • Use a caucus to develop options
  • Conduct position/counter position option generation.
  • Separate generation of possible solutions from evaluation.
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Stage 10

  • Assess options for settlement
  • Review the interests of the parties
  • Assess how interests can be met by available options
  • Assess the costs and benefits of selecting options.

Stage 11

  • Final bargaining
  • Final problem solving occurs when
  • One of the alternatives is selected
  • Incremental concessions are made and parties move closer together
  • Alternatives are combined or tailored into a superior solution
  • Package settlements are developed
  • Parties establish a procedural means to reach a substantive agreement

Stage 12

  • Achieving a formal settlement
  • Agreement may be a written memorandum of understanding or a legal contract. Detail how settlement is to be implemented – who, what, where, how, and write it into the agreement.
  • Identify “What ifs” and conduct problem solving to overcome blocks.
  • Establish an evaluation and monitoring procedure
  • Formalize the settlement mechanisms such as legal contract
  • Performance bond
  • Judicial review
  • Administrative/executive approval
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