Why Negotiate?

If your reason for negotiation is seen as 'beating' the opposition, it is known as 'Distributive negotiation'. This way, you must be prepared to use persuasive tactics and you may not end up with maximum benefit. This is because your agreement is not being directed to a certain compromise and both parties are looking for a different outcome.

Should you feel your negotiation is much more 'friendly' with both parties aiming to reach agreement, it is known as 'Integrative negotiation'. This way usually brings an outcome where you will both benefit highly.

Negotiation, in a business context, can be used for selling, purchasing, staff (e.g. contracts), borrowing (e.g., loans) and transactions, along with anything else that you feel are applicable for your business.

Ten Ways to Generate More Ideas

1. Establish common goals of what this "collaboration" would create. A more workable deal? Some common long term goals? A closer partnership?

2. Establish the rules of engagement. The purpose of the exercise is to resolve differences in creative ways that work better for both parties. All ideas are possibilities and research shows that combining ideas from different cultures can result in better outcomes than those from a single culture.

3. Trust is key and difficult to establish in many cultures. Certain techniques might speed that process a little. Being offsite, for example. Establishing physical proximity that unconsciously signals intimacy.

4. Add diversity (gender, culture, extroverts, different work specialties, experts, outsiders) to the group. Indeed, the diversity associated with international teams and alliances is the real goldmine of creativity in negotiations.

5. Use storytelling. This both helps establish who you are and what point of view you are bringing to this collaboration.

6. Work in small groups. Add physical movement. Tell the participants to relax, play, sing, have fun and silence is ok.

7. Work holistically and using visuals. If, for example, there are three sticking points where neither side is happy, agree to work on those points by spending a short time - 10 minutes - on each point where both sides offer "crazy" suggestions. Use techniques of improvisation. Neither side should be offended by the crazy ideas. No one should criticize. Explain that by exploring crazy ideas that better ideas are often generated.

8. Sleep on it. This enables the unconscious to work on the problems and gives negotiators time to collect opinions before meeting again the next day. Other kinds of breaks, coffee, etc. are also helpful. The overnight part is particularly important. Anthropologist and consumer expert Clotaire Rapaille suggests that the transitions between wakefulness and sleep allow new kinds of thinking "calming their brainwaves, getting them to that tranquil point just before sleep".

9. Doing this process over several sessions allows both sides to feel that progress is being made and actually generates better and more polished ideas that both sides can invest in.

10. It is the process of creating something together, rather than the specific proposals, which creates bonding around a shared task and establishes new ways of working together. Each side feels honored and all can feel that something is being accomplished.

For the Japanese reader, some of these will be quite familiar. It's easy to get Japanese in close physical proximity, they have been living that way for millennia. In Japanese companies there are not so much marketing specialists as different from engineers as different from finance analysts. Each executive may have worked in several functional areas, limiting the "chimney effect" often associated disparagingly with American firms. Physical movement - picture the start of the day at the typical Japanese factory. The Japanese also seem to work best in small groups. Silence is definitely OK. The Japanese invented karaoke. The Japanese have difficulty in criticizing others, especially foreigners. The use of visuals and holistic thinking are natural for Japanese. Breaks are also a common procedure for Japanese. Japanese will work better with people with whom they are familiar.

It should also be noted that some of these techniques will seem foreign to Japanese negotiators. For example, diversity is not a strong suit for Japanese - purposefully adding women and other elements of diversity to their groups would seem odd. However, the two key things the Japanese do in negotiation that others can and should learn are: First, the Japanese are the absolute champion information vacuums on the planet. They keep their mouths shut and let everyone else do the talking. Thus, they use the diversity of their international colleagues (customers, suppliers, competitors, scientists, etc.) to a greater extent than any other society. Often this is denigrated as copying and borrowing, but in fact being open to everyone's ideas has always been the key to creativity and human progress. While the Japanese, like everyone else around the world, are ethnocentric, they still very much respect foreign ideas. Second, the Japanese will only work with dolphins (cooperative negotiators), that is, when they have a choice. Trust and creativity go hand-in-hand. And, they will work to train their foreign counterparts to behave more cooperatively for the latter's own good. Witness the 25-year joint venture between Toyota and General Motors for manufacturing small cars in Fremont, CA as a prominent example.

Application of principles of creativity will be appropriate in at least three points during negotiations. Above noted was Howard Raiffa's suggestion that they be used in pre-negotiation meetings. Second, others advocate their use when impasses are reached. For example, in the negotiations regarding the Rio Urubamba natural gas project in Peru, the involved firms and environmentalist groups reached what at the time seemed to be an irreconcilable difference - roads and a huge pipeline through the pristine forest would be an ecological disaster. The creative solution? Think of the remote gas field as an offshore platform, run the pipeline underground and fly in personnel and equipment as needed.

Finally, even when negotiators have arrived at "yes," a scheduled review of the agreement may actually move the relationship past "yes" to truly creative outcomes. Perhaps such a review might be scheduled six months after implementation of the agreement has begun. But, the point is time must be set aside for a creative discussion of how to improve on the agreed to relationship? The emphasis of such a session should always be putting new ideas on the table - the answers to the question "what haven't we thought of?"

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