Barriers to Successful Negotiation

Below are few of the factors considered as barriers to successful negotiation.

1. Negative outlook towards the negotiation process: Your attitude during the negotiation-hostile or cooperative-decides the tone for the negotiation. Negotiation need not be confrontational. In fact, effective negotiation is characterized by the parties working together to find a solution, rather than each party trying to defeat the other party.

2. Try to Win at All Costs’ Attitude: One of the barriers to successful win-win negotiation is adopting a ‘try to win at all costs attitude’. The best perspective in negotiation is to try to find a solution where both parties ‘win’. Try not to view negotiation as the contest that must be won.

3. Over-exhibition of emotions: Strong emotions make us blind towards reason during negotiation. Though it is normal to become emotional during negotiation but as we get more emotional, we are less able to channel our negotiating behavior in constructive ways. Therefore, it is important to maintain control.

4. Lack of empathy: Since we are trying to find a solution that is acceptable to both parties, we need to understand the other person’s needs, and wants with respect to the issue of negotiation. If we do not know what the person needs or wants, we will be unable to negotiate properly. Often, when we take the time to find out about the other person, we discover that there is no significant disagreement.

5. Wrong focus: Negotiators have a tendency to focus on the individuals rather than the issues involved. This is particularly true with people we dislike. There is a tendency to get off track by focusing on how difficult the person is. Once this happens, effective negotiation is impossible. It is important to stick to the real issues and put aside our personal feelings about the individual.

6. Blame Game: Playing the blame game makes the negotiation situation difficult. In any conflict or negotiation, each party contributes, for better or worse. If you blame the other person for the difficulty, it will result in defiance. If you take responsibility for the problem, you will create a spirit of cooperation.

Guidelines for Successful Negotiation

1. Be sensitive towards the other party’s requirements and concerns. Use appropriate questions to find them out.

2. State clearly what you need and the reason why you need it. This is important to make sure that the other party is aware of your needs.

3. Prepare a list of alternative options to be used in case the solution suggested by you is not acceptable to the other party.

4. Be gentle and assertive without sounding dominating while stating your point if you disagree. Avoid arguments as they ore a waste of time.

5. Timing is very important. Bad timing may come in the way of the success of the negotiation process.

6. Aim high. If you start too low it may be difficult to tread upwards during a later stage.

7. Remain flexible. Sometimes the negotiation may proceed along the lines you planned and sometimes it may not. Adapt and fine tune according to the requirements for optimal results.

8. Do not try and be manipulative because it creates bitterness.

9. Open the negotiation on a positive and neutral note. Try building a rapport with the other party.

10. Keep your emotions in control.

11. Keep your eyes and ears open. Besides listening attentively, observe the non-verbal cues as well.

12. Show respect for the other person’s views.

13. Be patient. Think before you speak.

14. Maintaining silence or the right time is as important as talking.

15. Consider the impact of the outcome of the present negotiation on the future ones.

Non-verbal Skills In Negotiation

Almost 90 percent of the communication between two people in face-to-face communication which includes negotiation-is non-verbal. This means that only 10 per cent of verbal skills have an impact on the outcome of negotiations. This emphasizes the importance of non-verbal skills in negotiation. Understanding the non-verbal language of negotiation involves not only studying our own gestures and the meaning we are conveying through them but also being aware of what our counterpart is trying to convey.

It will not be right to interpret what someone is thinking by singling out a single gesture. The meaning becomes clearer  only when the gestures are viewed in a cluster. Some of the interpretations are given below:

  • A person who is interested and in agreement with you will usually lean towards you. He/she may nod his head in agreement.
  • A person who is in disagreement with what you are saying or is not interested will usually turn his/her body away from you. He/she may gaze past you or look around the room.
  • A person who is trying to hide something may avoid eye contact.
  • Tilting the head to one side may indicate that the other person is trying to evaluate you.
  • An open arms position may indicate that the opponent is receptive to the negotiation process.
  • A person who is nervous may move from side to side or he may touch his nose, ear, chin or clothing.

Certain non-verbal actions and the message that they indicate.

Behaviour Indicated

Non-verbal Messages

Dominance, power Feet on desk, piercing eye contact, hands behind head or on hips, palm down handshake, ‘steepling’ of fingers
Submission, nervousness Fidgeting avoiding eye contract, touching face, chin and so on, throat clearing
Disagreement, anger Finger pointing squinting eyes, frowning turning away,crossing arms or legs
Boredom, lock of interest Playing with objects on desk, storing blankly, drumming on table, glancing around the room
Evaluation Nodding tilting head slightly, stroking chin, putting index finger to lips
Confidence, cooperation, honesty Leaning forward, opening arms and palms, maintaining eye contact, smiling

Sonia Kukreja

I am a mother of a lovely kid, and an avid fan technology, computing and management related topics. I hold a degree in MBA from well known management college in India. After completing my post graduation I thought to start a website where I can share management related concepts with rest of the people.
Sonia Kukreja