Negotiation Bargaining

Bargaining is a simple form of distributive negotiation process which is both competitive and positional. Bargaining doesn't seek to create value, but instead focusses on negotiators claiming value.

Bargaining very often revolves around a single issue – usually price. Bargaining predominates in one-time negotiations, e.g. buying or selling a car or house when you don't intend on having an ongoing relationship. One party usually attempts to gain advantage over another to obtain the best possible agreement.

Most negotiation training seminars will start by teaching the essentials of bargaining, which includes at a minimum:

  • Understanding that your and the other negotiator's opening offers are the most powerful predictors of where you'll finish up. So be ambitious enough and be prepared to justify your opening offer.
  • Anchoring: whichever negotiator is more successful in anchoring their opening offer will enjoy more of the bargained value.
  • Changing your opening offer when negotiating in different countries who's cultural practices differ from your own. e.g. Chinese negotiating with Americans do well to moderate their ambitious starting positions.
  • Defining your Walk-Away level and not going beyond.


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