Ten Ways to Promote Cooperative Negotiations
Mr. Thrifty and I were discussing the increasingly depressing state of air-travel with our neighbors over take-out last week when frequent-flyer cosmetics rep Sean mentioned that U.S. Air was planning to stop showing in-flight movies for a $10 million cost saving.
Since all four of us are frequent flyers, a lively discussion ensued about ways the airlines could deliver entertainment at lesser cost.
Sean's life-partner, the rocket scientist, Tony, wasn't chiming in as usual. Only when the conversation flagged did we notice that he had one of those "I'm about to invent something" looks on his face.
"You know," Tony finally offered, chopsticks hovering in mid-air, "producers ought to offer unreleased movies to U.S. Air in exchange for the airlines making willing passengers available as focus groups. U.S. Air would be able to offer its passengers something better than the other airlines -- movies that haven't hit the theaters yet - and the production companies would probably pay the airline a fee for the focus group service."
This is why people say this or that doesn't require you to be a rocket scientist. These are the types of innovative solutions Tony calls up daily on a moment's notice. His take-out dinner proposal was what negotiation gurus are talking when they suggest that bargaining parties use their negotiation for the purpose of creating value.
As Harvard negotiation luminaries Lax and Sebenius have written, however,
having created new value, negotiators must still divide the resulting goods. Unfortunately, the competitive strategies used to claim value tend to undermine the cooperative strategies needed to create value. The exaggeration and concealment needed for effective competition is directly opposed to the open sharing of information needed to find joint gains. Conversely taking an open cooperative approach makes one vulnerable to the hard bargaining tactics to a competitive negotiator.
Lax and Sebenius' recommendations to encourage value-creating cooperation?
- Focus on interests rather than positions.
- Make a strong early commitment to cooperative attitudes.
- Capitalize on past histories of cooperative dealings.
- Shift focus from competition to relationship.
- Make an early agreement to be guided by the principle of just division of mutual gains.
- Stress norms of appropriate behavior, such as being reasonable, civilized or fair.
- Reward cooperation with cooperation.
- Punish competition with competitive moves.
- Readily provide your bargaining partner opportunities to resume cooperation.
- Be clear and simple, so your responses are consistent with your stated intentions.
I will discuss each of these techniques in subsequent posts.
In the meantime, any U.S. Air people out there can have Tony's idea free of charge.