Negotiation – Cultivation of compromise

Negotiation has stuck with us as a civilization for years. From agreeing on a curfew, to agreeing on multi-million dollar contracts for sports teams, negotiation has become synonymous with our society.

In terms of an interaction, many people show their true colors in the setting of a give-and-take situation. There are variety of different approaches, mentalities, and attitudes that are “prescribed” for negotiation and a quick Google search will attest to this. Once the stage is set for negotiation, one’s personality traits are revealed and how each party reaches their goal has been the object of studies for  years.

There are a few different outcomes of negotiation and both parties have an interest in the outcome of the negotiation. Ranging from complete dispute (NFL labor dispute) to tentative agreement to seamless agreement. It is rare that any party goes into a negotiation expecting exactly what they want, but a compromise. Before entering discussion, most parties have an idea of what is acceptable,what is tentative, and what is not permissible in relation to their objectives of entering the negotiations.

Often plotted in parallel linear diagrams, these measurements help decide how much  each side is willing to concede in the negotiation and how easily. These are usually affected by a variety of factors, such as deadlines, mediation, exclusivity, importance, and which side has more political (bureaucratic) backing. In many discussions such as asking for a raise, the respect that is afforded by the party that works under the other party affects the compromise, and how far they will “push” (or concede) for their argument.

In many companies, negotiation is mediated by a third party who has no interest in either part, except creating a solution that is accepted by all. Resolving conflicts and disagreements in a courteous and non-destructive manner is a trait that companies search for. In some industries, where inter-company rivalries develop, or where indirect competition is fostered (our divisions sales are better, better bonus) having the ability to set aside personal convictions are difficult, to achieve a compromise that is accepted by all and can allow the parties involved to continue working together unfettered.

Whether this is always achievable is still debatable. While some believe that any outcome is possible and that approach is the main initiator of unhappiness, others believe that if the minimum concession are too faar apart, then no compromise exists.

With so much of our culture depending on compromise, gentlemen’s agreements, and trust, negotiation has become an important part of our culture and society. So much so that being an effective negotiator is part of being a good leader.

von Hoffman, Constantine: Essential business negotiation tactics, Accessed on May 30, 2011.

Business Management Skills, Comments on Negotiation Skills, Accessed on May 30, 2011.

Advani, Asheesh: Negotiation for Startups, Accessed on May 30, 2011.

5 Responses to “Negotiation – Cultivation of compromise”
  1. There are a more possible outcomes than compromise. In a compromise all parties to the negotiation have “lost” or given up something. What will this do to the long term relationship of the parties? Do all negotiations have to be zero sum games?

    • justenl says:

      Not necessarily. Compromise is needed when there is no way for both parties to come to a “win-win” solution. Thus negotiation is the tool to reach a solution. There is many other outcomes to negotiations, which can range from complete agreement and alignment of goals, which fosters beneficial relations between the parties, and the other end of the spectrum is complete disagreement (or “stonewalling”) which is ultimately detrimental to relations. Overall, negotiation is a tool, when used wisely it can be very useful.

  2. Claire Li says:

    I was reading the others’ blogs on this topic, and one of them wrote, ” In business, you want to create a “win-win” scenario for all parties involved; if you can negotiate a “more-win for yourself, less-win for others”– that would be the optimal situation.”

    I think the key to successful negotiation is to minimize “lost” while maximizing “win”, but I agree that compromise is necessary when conflict occurs. For instance, if two departments within the same company are planning to work on two different projects but the company has limited resources, there has to be some compromises in order to maintain good relationships with the other department.

  3. I did not think of how important negotiation has become part of our culture. As you mentioned it is ingrained in us from early child hood. Every day we are negotiating something, trying to get the most of what we want in regards to the other person interests. Last semester I took Phil 3033 and our instructor mentioned how having a good understanding about philosophy is a strong basis for creating arguments. By the end of that term I learned how this was applicable as many of the ideologies in philosophy has much to with our motivation in life. How we approach situations, react to them and even divert them. Now a days I find myself being more aware of my negotiation tactics, taking more time to understand what I truly want to gain, and making sure to set my arguments in order to achieve them.

  4. I think that the outcome of a negotiation can also be affected by dependency. The greater the dependency of one party on the other, the more likely it is that the outcome of the negotiation will be largely one sided; negotiations are a power struggle, and the party with a greater power base over the other will be able to achieve most, if not all, of its objectives and come out “victorious.”

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