0711-Nature and Purpose of Negotiations

Background reading material by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule for Year 3 PPSD session on Wednesday 14th November 2007


Negotiations are pervasive: Leaders spend a lot of their time in negotiations. Daily life, public or private, revolves around negotiating with others. You may not even be conscious of being involved in negotiations. Most major decisions, private and public, are not unilateral. They involve negotiations with others to reach an acceptable consensus.



Negotiation is necessary to protect your interests, and get as much advantage as possible without entering into costly and bruising confrontations. Most conflicts can be resolved through negotiation. Good negotiation turns confrontation into cooperation. Physicians must be able to negotiate with their patients and relative to agree on a treatment plan otherwise a lot of conflicts and misunderstandings will occur.

Learning negotiation skills: Negotiation skills can be learned. They can be improved by experience and discussions with experienced negotiators.



What is win-win negotiation?: Negotiations can be win-win in which each party leaves satisfied or win-lose in which one party leaves with a feeling of winning and the other leaves with a feeling of having lost. A win-win outcome is the best in a negotiation. It ensures that each party gets the maximum it can from the transaction, part as friends who can work together again. Both objectives and relations have to be considered. Future relationships may be lost by aggressive pursuit of objectives.


Win-win negotiation requires avoiding stereotyping the other party. Such stereotypes confuse your judgment. Win-win negotiation requires avoiding extremes. The just equilibrium is the way to negotiate. Win-win negotiation is joint problem-solving; the alternative is power negotiation using threats, intimidation, and other power tactics that will end in deadlock. Win-win negotiation focuses on positive solutions. It aims at reaching an agreement satisfactory to both sides by a process that is as painless as possible. Satisfaction could be achieved even if one party has through miscalculation compromised its interests. It is all well as long as they are not aware of their mistake. 


Elements of win-win negotiation: Win-win negotiation has the following elements: separating people from the problem, looking at interests and not positions, creating options for mutual gain, getting all parties to use objective criteria,  enough time to prepare for and carry out negotiations. and optimum circumstances under which negotiation is carried. The focus should be on solving problems and not on personalities. Interests and not positions should be defended. A negotiating position can be given up or changed without giving up your interests. Options for mutual gains should be vigorously explored. Win-win negotiators concentrate on objective criteria. A win-win outcome in negotiations requires enough time to prepare so that decisions and moves are well-studied and are not emotional reactions.


Alternative to win-win: If you are not interested in a win-win outcome, you have the liberty not to negotiate at all and to use other approaches to solving the problem.

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. November, 2007