What are the Positive & Negative Effects of Negotiation Influencing?
Learn the difference between positive and negative negotiation influences, and examine the various actions that impact our negotiating techniques and business results.
Negotiation can be considered as a skill that assists individuals or teams to obtain an agreement based on their interests. Ultimately, however, what we do when we negotiate is to attempt to influence others to accept our way. Sometimes we succeed; sometimes we don’t. Negotiation literature is full of training tactics and strategies that describe ways of achieving this goal.
Two Kinds of Influences
There are two kinds of influences: positive and negative.
If we want to change our car, we might sell the old one. We prospect the market and discover that an average price for the old one could be $9,000. If we advertise the old car at $10,000, this is a positive way of influencing others. If we decide to advertise at $13,500, this could be considered a negative way of influencing behavior.
Negotiation Results and Effects on Relationships
Negotiation is measured by two criteria: results and effects on relationships. A successful outcome is reached when we achieve our objectives. This is in terms of both our results and keeping the relationship within at least cooperative limits.
There are debates about ethics and morals in negotiation. These debates center on what we should do and what we should not do. Many authors attempt to find criteria for orientation. However, at the end of the day, the difference between utilizing positive or negative influence depends on the status of the relationship. Whatever the result (of course, we should achieve our objectives), if we end up with a solid relationship, it means that we used positive influence.
We employ positive influencing techniques when we behave as other people expect us to behave. This is also true when others agree that our actions or motives are appropriate. We know we are using influence in a positive way when we prepare well for a meeting. We are employing positive influences if we:
- Have many offers.
- Garner trust through our actions.
- Make the right alliances.
- Create an environment that others enjoy.
- Show competence.
- Possess communication skills.
- … and many others.
On the other hand, we get a negative reaction if we:
- Are lying in our negotiations, even when the other side expects us to lie.
- Deceive others.
- Try to dominate.
- Do not listen.
- Are preoccupied with arguing.
- Disregard the needs of others.
Using negative influencing tactics can bring us the desired results. However, we should be aware of the impact these tactics can have on us in the form of poor relationships. In turn, our name and reputation can be tarnished.
Influences and Skill in Negotiations
It can be argued that being a skilled negotiator and using only positive influencing techniques can still end up with a negative reaction. This is due to skill differences between the teams. Faced with a skilled negotiator, the other side may feel envious or assume that their team will surely lose.
However, civilized society is based on equal opportunities, not on equal possibilities. A skilled negotiator can almost always demonstrate to others that they have obtained the best result for a deal.
Often, the difference between the two types of influencing is vague. Different negotiations have different boundaries between positive and negative influences, and it is not simple to detect these boundaries. Even when we attempt to keep within positive influencing techniques, we have the tendency to push toward the limits. We often hope that we will see signals from the other side that will show us when we have pushed too far.
Skillfully trained negotiators can move the boundary inside what is normally perceived as negative action and keep a positive relationship. When we try to evaluate a situation, we are using our own system of values. In a negotiation, however, we are dealing with people that have another system of values.
So, in the other side’s eyes, it is not important what we consider about fairness, ethics, or morals. It is the other side’s judgment that counts. If we want to be effective in our influence, we must evaluate our actions as nearly as we can to their views.
Situational Negotiation Strategies
Each of us develops a behavioral negotiation strategy within our normal environment. By observation and self-training, we recognize the limits between the two types of influences. Problems can occur when we change our negotiation situation. For example, a graduate of Sales Training in LA shared that they can be competitive and highly persuasive in front of clients, but that they get walked over at home.
When we change jobs, when we convene with another culture, when the market is changing. These are more examples of situations where we may lose our perception of the boundaries between the two types of influences. This can then impact negotiations, causing difficulties.
We may not know, for example, what the result of advertising our car for $10,000 in India would be. Is the market value still $9,000? If so, in order to get $9,000, is $10,000 the correct opening? If a buyer comes and offers $4,000, is he a serious buyer? We need to ask so many questions to find our way back to effective negotiations.
Negotiations and Feelings
The manner in which we behave in a negotiation is impacted by our feelings. Confidence, trust, and courage make up one category. Anger, fear, greed, and uncertainty form the opposite category. These feelings reveal to us why we do what we do. If we are greedy, we will likely attempt to exploit others. When we are afraid, we try to protect ourselves. If we are angry, we want to attack. When we are uncertain, we will likely avoid.
These behaviors lead to negative influence. Our actions are reflections of our feelings, and negative feelings lead to unhealthy relations. The other types of feelings—the positive ones—are the source of positive influence. When we are confident, when we have courage, and when we want to build trust, we will be able to concentrate on skillfully finding new ways to create a strong win-win situation for all sides.
The secret to effective negotiations is in understanding others as well as ourselves. We can then employ positive influences in our negotiations. Positive techniques are vital to achieving winning results and relationships that make agreements valuable for the teams involved.
Radu Ionescu is a negotiation consultant and negotiation trainer for Resources, Development & Ideas.
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