Positive & Negative Impact Influences on Negotiation Results
Learn the difference between a positive and negative negotiation influences, examines the various actions that impact our negotiating techniques and business results.
Negotiation can be considered a tool that assists parties 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.
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 it 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 behaviour.
Negotiation is measured by two criteria: results and effects on relationships. A successful negotiation happens when we achieve our objectives in terms of results and keep the relationship, at least, within cooperative limits.
There are long debates about ethics and morals in negotiation. 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 utilising positive or negative influence is the status of the relationship. Whatever the result (of course at least we must attain our objectives), if we end up with a good relationship it means that we used positive influence.
When we behave as other people expect us to behave or when they agree to the appropriateness of our actions or motives, we are employing positive influencing techniques. We know we are using influence in a positive manner when we prepare well for a negotiation. If we have many offers; if through our actions we garner trust; if we make the correct alliances; if we create an environment that others enjoy; if we demonstrate competence; if we have communication skills and through many other methods, we are employing positive influences.
On the other hand, if we’re lying in our negotiations, even when other side expects us to lie; if we deceive, if we try to dominate; if we do not listen; if our main preoccupation is arguing; if we disregard other parties’ needs, then we get a negative reaction. Using negative influencing tactics can bring us the desired results, but we have to be cognisant of the consequences. A bad relationship is certain and our name and reputation goes with it.
One can argue that being a good negotiator and using only positive influencing techniques can still end up in a negative reaction because of skill differences between the parties. The others may envy the skilful one or assume that facing such a good negotiator, they will surely lose. Civilised society is premised on equal opportunities, not on equal possibilities. A very good 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 them. Even when we attempt to keep within positive influencing techniques, we always have the tendency to push toward the limits, hoping that we will see signals from the other side of the table that will show us when we had pushed too far.
Skilful negotiators have the ability to move the boundary inside what is normally perceived as negative actions and still keep a good 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 always have another system of values. So, in their eyes, it is not important what we consider about fairness, or ethic and moral. It is their judgement that counts. And if we want to be effective in our influence, we must evaluate our actions as nearly as we can to their views also.
All of us develop a behavioural negotiation strategy within our normal environment. By observation and self-training we recognise 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.
When we change jobs, when we convene with another culture, when the market is changing, we may lose our perception about the boundaries between the two types of influences. This is when we have difficulties in negotiation.
We don’t know any more, for example, what will be the result of advertising our car for $10,000 in India? Is the market value still $9,000? And 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.
The manner we behave in a negotiation is based on our feelings. Confidence, trust, courage are one category and on the opposite side, anger, fear, greed, uncertainty are another kind of feelings that reveal to us why we do what we do. If we are greedy we will attempt to exploit others. If we are afraid, we will try to protect ourselves, if we are angry we want to attack and if we are uncertain we will avoid. All these lead to negative influence. Our actions are reflections of our feelings and negative feelings lead to bad 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 parties.
The secret to effective negotiations, therefore, is in understanding others as well as ourselves so that we can employ positive influences in our negotiations. Positive techniques are vital to achieving winning results and relationships that make agreements valuable for all the parties in an agreement.
Radu Ionescu is a negotiation consultant and negotiation trainer for Resources, Development & Ideas.