The main framework we covered in class was the one from the book Getting to Yes. Below are the main points in this framework:
- Focus on underlying interests, not positions. Ask many questions at the start to ascertain what people truly care about underneath and longer term. Also, there are often unsaid interests and preferences that people think might not be related to the negotiation at hand; by uncovering those, there may be ways to incorporate them and create better outcomes.
- Seek integrative, not distributive, outcomes. Negotiations happen all around us, most in informal settings. In "formal" negotiations, the focus is often on one variable, like price, and the situation is viewed as a distribution of a fixed pie, a zero-sum game. We learned in this class the importance of considering multiple issues at once in a negotiation in order to reach integrative outcomes ("win-win"). From a game-theoretic perspective, these are outcomes which are Pareto efficient (helping one person without hurting another). This occurs when people have different preferences or sensitivities to various issues, such that improving one party's situation in one issue does not hurt the other.
- Jointly brainstorm many options up front without criticizing. This is pretty similar to IDEO's brainstorming creativity rule of seeking quantity not quality when generating initial ideas.
- BATNA: Consider your Best Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement. This will determine the bargaining zone (area of potential agreements) and give you a clear indication of when it's better to walk away from a negotiation. Money and time invested in improving your BATNA will improve your results in negotiations in more than one way.
- Evaluate options according to mutually agreed upon external criteria. It's very difficult to agree to something when each person uses their own internal criteria. There are many outside criteria that the parties can brainstorm and consider valid for evaluating a deal's fairness and acceptability, and often a mix of these criteria is the best way to compromise when the two parties have pretty different interests.
- Preparation and feedback are really important. As compared to my "real world" negotiations, I spent a lot more time preparing for the in-class simulations. I think that allowed the class exercises to proceed smoothly and for me to get more out of them. I should seek to prepare more in that way for real-life negotiations. In addition, post-negotiation feedback and constructive criticism allowed people to improve and get candid mini-evaluations weekly. I think that sort of feedback could be helpful in real life too.
- Multi-party negotiations require a lot of coordination. Not only are there more interests and opinions involved, but there is the added challenge of finding commonly free time, letting everyone's voice be heard, and coordinating multiple parties' preferences. By agreeing to a system and process up front that meets these goals, that part of the headache can partially be relieved.
- Every culture has a different way of negotiating. I learned that in Japanese there is no direct translation for the word "negotiation." That says many interesting things about the culture; perhaps negotiation and haggling are considered disrespectful. In addition, we surveyed research by Hofstede into different cultures' styles and compared them on several axes: power distance, masculinity, individuality, and uncertainty avoidance. Though it's impossible to fully generalize, and all individuals are certainly unique, I did enjoy being able to get a rough picture of how various cultures differ in their styles as compared to Americans.