Basic Parts of a Negotiation: A Checklist
Updated: Aug 8, 2019
I work with technical professionals to help them communicate their needs effectively. Typically, these are executives of tech firms, lawyers, scientists, medical and psychological service providers, project managers, lab managers and engineers who embrace esoteric issues of negotiation. These elements can determine whether or not the communication is effective in getting needs met. But that does not mean the emotional side of the transaction, interaction, conflict or dispute cannot overwhelm negotiators on a personal level.
Before delving into strategies, tactics, operations and contingencies with data, research reports, to-dos and citations, it is sometimes necessary to take a step back, just looking about the trajectory of a negotiation, the basic parts. A mindfulness of the basic parts of your negotiation helps us reduce anxiety and overwhelm that sometimes accompanies the interaction. Details can bog down an interaction and create conflict if we don’t know where we are in the negotiation process.
At the most basic level, negotiation, for example, a contract, requires three elements. We can look to how scientists deconstructed the exercise when teaching negotiation to machines.
In 2000 an IBM University of Michigan team[i] sought to teach computers how to negotiate contractual terms using artificial intelligence, they published three basic parts to the process of teaching machines to negotiate:
1. Discovery of parties ready to contract.
2. Negotiate terms.
I would add planning and performance for clarity with our carbon based negotiators. Out of these three basic parts (plus two), we can disaggregate the elements that form our checklist below. Mapping these three basic elements against my three negotiation subsystems (strategic – parts of the negotiation we do before hand, essentially the plan; tactical – things we do at the negotiation; operational – things external to the substance of the negotiation that may impact the outcome), we would come up with a table such as this:
A great deal is happening here. Understanding how to prepare for each step is essential in gaining a global view of how the enterprise can prepare for negotiating with clients, investors, suppliers, customers and employees.
[i] Reeves, Daniel & P. Wellman, Michael & N. Grosof, Benjamin & Y. Chan, Hoi. (2000). Automated Negotiation from Declarative Contract Descriptions.