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 a tool 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 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 consider selling 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 a price of $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 is measured by two criteria: results and effects on relationships. A successful negotiation happens when we achieve our objectives. This is in terms of our results and keeping the relationship within at least cooperative limits.
There are long debates about ethics and morals in negotiation. These debates center on what we should do and what we are not allowed to do. Many authors attempt to find criteria for orientation. 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.
Positive influencing techniques are employed 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 manner when we prepare well for a negotiation. 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.
- Demonstrate competence.
- Possess communication skills.
- … and many other methods.
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 cognizant of the consequences. A poor relationship is very likely, and our name and reputation can go with it.
Influences and Skill in Negotiations
It can be argued that being a skilled negotiator and using only positive influencing techniques can still end up in a negative reaction. This is due to skill differences between the negotiating teams. The others may envy the skillful one or assume that facing such a good negotiator, their team will surely lose. 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 certain 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 of the table that will show us when we have pushed too far.
Skillful trained negotiators can move the boundary inside what is normally perceived as negative action and still keep a positive relationship. When we try to evaluate a situation, we are employing 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 also.
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. At the office, inside our market, in our group of friends, and at home, we have the capability, more or less, to know how to manage the situations that we face. Problems occur with changes. 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. In these situations, we may lose our perception of the boundaries between the two types of influences. This is when we can have difficulties in negotiation.
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? Hundreds of questions need to be answered to find again our way to effective negotiations.
Negotiations and Feelings
The manner in which we behave in a negotiation is based on our feelings. Confidence, trust, and courage make up one category. On the opposite side, anger, fear, greed, and uncertainty form another category of feelings that 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 new ways and new opportunities that can create a strong win-win situation for all sides.
The secret to effective negotiations, therefore, 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 negotiating teams involved.
Radu Ionescu is a negotiation consultant and negotiation trainer for Resources, Development & Ideas.