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Negotiations for the workplace.

We negotiate every day of our lives, every time a decision has to be made and people involved have differing opinions. For example, a business group must decide which course of action provides the best solution. Buyers and sellers must negotiate terms of a contract. In personal interviews, the applicant and the interviewer must negotiate salary and fringe benefits. You can also utilize negotiation when asking for a raise or a promotion.

Although negotiation is an important part of your personal and business life, you probably don't know how often you use it. Negotiation is one method to help you effectively manage your time and resources. As an effective negotiator, you can positively affect outcome of any decisions in which you may participate.

Myths about negotiations

Many people have inaccurate ideas about what negotiations are and what happens during a negotiation. Because they do not see the opportunities, people fail to gain as much as they might have without the perception. Here are a few of the myths people have.

Myth # 1

Negotiation is only used in legal disputes. While negotiation is certainly used in legal situations, it is used in far more everyday life situations to help us solve disagreements.

Myth # 2

A good negotiator always wins and his opponent loses. This is called the win/lose approach to negotiation and creates possible problems for future discussions. No one likes to lose, so a better idea is to create a win/win situation for the future.

Myth # 3

Negotiation is often thought of as compromise. Compromise is when two parties start out with extreme "bids" and then try to move towards some point in the middle. It focuses one question while negotiation takes from a possible number of ideas.

Myth #4

You have to be pushy, if you are going to openly discuss the facts. Many people feel bullied and pressured when confronted by an adversary, and you will find that others push back. If this is the attitude you have and you approach the negotiation environment with this attitude, you may find that you have a real problem. Bottom line: You do not have to be unpleasant or pushy to be an effective negotiator.

Key Elements

Many negotiating situations are different, the people are different, the resources are different, the outcomes will be different. but many negotiating situations will be similar And it is important that you realize these elements in order to be successful in your endeavors.

Contrasting Needs--Negotiation involves two or more parties who want different things. However, the parties need each other or they can't accomplish what they want without the help of the other party. Basically there are two approaches to negotiation, competitive (win/lose), or cooperative (win/win).

Resources--These are the tangibles or intangibles the parties bring to the table. In order to be successful, you must have some resources the other party needs and you must be willing to share those resources. If you are sure the other party can and will share their resources and it will fill your needs, you will be motivated to negotiate.

Time--In the lab and in most businesses, time is money. Time is important in negotiating because the monetary value of the time spent negotiating may be very important to the success of your goals.

Getting Started

Once you are involved in negotiation or know that you will soon be, be sure to take the time to prepare. The more you prepare, the more confident you will be and the more self-esteem you will have, and you will be on your way to a win/win situation.


Whenever you interact with a different individual, you make certain assumptions about that person. These assumptions may well be inaccurate, and judgmental. Assumptions that turn out to be false can raise havoc with the negotiation process.


Information is your most important resource. In the military, they call this intelligence because you can only make sound decisions when you have good information. You need good information to be aware of your opponent's needs, interests, goals, power and time limitations.


Power can be thought of as the ability to control resources. Since resources are known to be of major importance in negotiation, it follows that power is also very important. The person with the most resources generally has the better position in negotiating. Simply stated, the person with the most resources under their control has the most power and, therefore, generally has an upper hand in negotiation.

Possible Outcomes of Negotiation

There are four possible outcomes that may result from a negotiation: win/win, lose/, and no outcome.

Win/Win--This, of course, is the ideal result. Both parties walk away from the negotiation with their needs satisfied and of the mindset that they will negotiate with you in the future.

Lose/Lose--This occurs when neither party achieves their goals or any of their needs met. For example, suppose you were working with the laboratory manager to purchase and install a complete new computer operation. You feel you have the deal set when the lab manager tells you he has found a company that will do the job at a lower cost and with the same quality, etc. It seems the lab has lost and the company has won, but two months later the lab manager tells you the system is slow, inefficient, and they are going to investigate some new companies. Both you as the negotiator and the hospital because it squandered that money have lost.

Lose/Win or Win/Lose--This is an unpopular situation and one does not to be in such a position. It results from the fact one party walks away happy and with their needs met while the other party is mad and unwilling to negotiate with you again.

No Outcome--This is a negotiation that leads to "no outcome." For example, suppose you own a large block of property and you hear that the city is looking for a space to develop a shopping mall. You decide to sell your property and visit a realtor. This person just happens to be on the planning committee and tells you that the city is looking in another direction. Once you hear this you decide not to sell. This particular negotiation had neither a positive nor negative outcome. In effect, "no outcome."

You have learned of the myths of negotiation, the elements that make up the environment and finally what the possible outcomes are; it is time to discuss some possible strategies you can use.

1. Very often, negotiaters will present a best offer or final offer, the "take it or leave it offer." This type strategy is used by one of the parties to discourage additional negotiation. This can be countered by management/ union if you ask an open ended question: What do you think will occur if we do not get this matter settled?

2. "I will get back to you on that!" That statement is the second tactic we should use if we must have some time and want to keep the subject on the table and the door open for negotiation. For example: You as lab manager approach the personnel chief about the extra employees you requested. The personnel chief does not want to negotiate it now. He simply says "interesting point, let me think about it a little longer and I will get back you."

3. A third strategy is called "sweetening the deal." At times, one of the parties may add a little something extra to get the other to make a deal work. For example, a salesperson may offer to extend a sales price and you may ask for free training for one or more of your workers.

4. Another way to slow things down if things get going too fast or in another direction which you don't want to go: You can deflect the answer with a great question. For example, a salesperson asks you, "if I can get that model by end of work today, will you purchase it today?" You can respond by asking, "How long will it take you to find that model?" You have not committed, but you have shown interest and asked a great question which will yield you some information.

5. Another approach or strategy may be to "take a timeout." Let the tension disperse. Sometimes a discussion does not go well and rather than let the discussion get loud and frustrating, you could simply say, "Let's take a 10-minute break!" It will also give you time to review background and adjust your current position.

6. And finally, another strategy is the "Fait accompli." This can be employed when you have completed a task before you discuss it. Fait accompli means completed task and thus it is irreversible. When you are questioned, you can say, "What me? I didn't know I was supposed to check with you first. I am sorry, I will not do it again without first negotiating with you."

Opponent Types

It is important to be aware of the type of person your opponent is, and while there are many ways to categorize them I prefer the following:

Assertor--this is the street fighter; they are pragmatic, unemotional, and make fast decisions.

One can persuade an assertor by referring to objectives and results--detail main points only, be assertive in your communication and body language and finally be well organized.

Thinker--this type person is analytical, unemotional, slow to make decisions, and rigid.

You can deal with this type character by slowing down, talk specifics, facts, data, spread sheets, be logical with no hard sells. If they should come up with the unexpected or a surprise, you should counter with realistic and accurate comments.

Expresser--some call this individual introverted and others call him an entertainer.

This person will be emotional, makes fast decisions and likes excitement. You can deal with this person by speeding it up, do not be rigid, no details, offer them special deals, incentives etc.

A fourth category is the Pleaser--an amiable person, tries to be a pacifier, is emotional, makes slow decisions and values people.

Take time to establish a relationship, try to neutralize their decision-making fears, find out what they want and don't want--provide back-up support and guarantees.


Remember, whenever people change ideas with the intention of changing relationships, they are negotiating. Whether it is a one time deal or multiple years or days, it is still negotiating.

Don't get caught up in the myths and use the information you have wisely. Another way to think about negotiation is that it is not an approach to break or breech a relationship, but to develop a new configuration of the current relationship There are four outcomes possible when one negotiates: win/win; lose/win; lose/lose, and no change or no outcome.

To get to the Win/Win situation, use your time, power, and position to their fullest extent; do not get frustrated and mad, simply call "Time out."


Karass, Chester L.,1970. The Negotiating Game. New York; Thomas Y. Crowell

Nieremberg, Gerard I 1968, The Art of Negotiating, New York. Cornerstone Library

Volekma, Roger, 1999, The Negotiation Tool Kit. New York, AMACOM.

* Gerard P. Boe, PhD, CLC(AMT), MT(AMT), Executive Director of American Medical Technologists' Institute for Excellence, Editor of AMT Journal of Continuing Education Topics & Issues, and Chair, AMT CLC Evaluation Committee
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Author:Boe, Gerard P.
Publication:AMT Events
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2012
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