Twelve Principles of Effective Negotiations

By | on April 7, 2014 | 0 Comment


Whether having discussions with colleagues or sub-ordinates, conducting meetings, communicating with the public or with different stakeholders, negotiations are part and parcel of daily routine of a public servant. In order to have harmonious interpersonal relations among the colleagues and with the stakeholders, mastery of effective communications and particularly of negotiations skills is extremely essential

 Negotiations Strategy

Negotiations are a structured process whereby two or more parties try to understand the respective views of others and amicably resolve issues. These are different from informal haggling, third party mediation or court arbitration, though negotiations may contain elements of all these forms of interaction. In order to gain maximum advantage, the parties involved must have a clear strategy before starting the negotiation process. This strategy could be build around the following twelve principles.

1.    Get the mandate and guidelines

2.    Gather maximum information

3.    Build the trust first

4.    Start with selective information

5.    Composite dialogue

6.    Make the first offer

7.    Do not give too many reasons

8.    Summarize what other side has said

9.    Go for win-win solution

10. Look for positives

11. Use emotions

12. Keep door of further negotiations open

Get the Mandate and Guidelines
Enter into negotiations after having the mandate to do so from the competent authority. Seek also the guidelines about the trade-offs as well as the thresholds from the competent authority. In case of sensitive negotiations do have a safe exit by saying your commitment is subject to final confirmation from the authority

Gather maximum information

Gather maximum information about the issue to be discussed or negotiated. Know respective strengths and weaknesses-where do you stand and where does the other party. Marshall your arguments with facts and figures-they impress everyone. Do find out the legal position of the case other party is making

First Build The Trust

Do not open the negotiations with a cold start. Warm the environment by making small comments. Weather is still the best bet. Tell personal anecdotes showing common human failings. Never try to impress others by name dropping or bragging. Do enquire about and listen to other party’s stories with same attention. However do not waste too much time by unnecessarily prolonging this session

Start With Selective Information

Take the initiative and tell the other party some facts and figures to gain their trust. Let the other party come up with their part of the information sharing. Point out any inaccuracies in their facts and figures and admit yours if pointed out

Composite Dialogue

Put all the issues on the table and discuss one issue at a time within this overall framework of composite dialogue. It will provide opportunities to all the parties to trade off the less important ones with the crucial ones. It will also keep the focus of the parties on the big picture and avoid wasting of time on trivial issues

Make First Offer

When the time comes, make the first offer to take the lead in this battle of nerves. It will give confidence to other party and give you time to marshal your arguments. Remember! First offer is not the final position you are going to take; it is subject to compromise

Do Not Give Too Many Reasons

Never try to give more than two/three reasons to justify your stand. Every reason must be solid enough to stand on its own grounds. Other party will attack your weakest point the most if you give too many arguments. Same applies for you when they give their arguments

Look for Common Grounds

Try to find out the common ground where an   amicable compromise can be reached. Small wins can create scope for bigger gains. Listen to the views of opponents attentively to find positives in their arguments, not just for rebutting every argument they are making

Summarize Periodically

Keep on summarizing what has been said during the meeting. It will give you the initiative, command and time to argue .It will also remove any ambiguity about the standpoints of the respective parties

Go for Win-Win Solution

Enter into negotiations with a positive frame of mind and not for 100% kill. Try to go for win-win solution rather than zero-sum game. Identify the opportunities/benefits of agreement for both.

Use Emotions

Emotions play an important part in the negotiation process, either positively or negatively. Negative emotions can result in breakdown of the negotiations but may be helpful in attaining concessions. On the other hand, positive emotions often facilitate reaching an agreement and help to maximize joint gains. Positive and negative emotions can be strategically used to influence outcomes in some organizational context.Emotions are very powerful tool but do not overkill by resorting to emotional blackmailing or overt sentimentality

Keep the Door Open
In case of deadlock, take a break and keep the door of further negotiations open till the final. Remember, deadlock is the best opportunity to break open the door


Negotiations are a science as well as an art. You can learn the basics of the science of negotiations fairly easy through hard work. But having a command during the negotiations process is an art which demands, besides hard work, passion and patience. However successful negotiations with a win-win situation for all the parties involved is the real test of a successful civil servant

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