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Posted on August 17th, 2012, by

During the process of communication all parties usually try to avoid conflicts and misunderstandings, however this is not possible. All humans are different in character and have different points of views and approaches to the same situations, thus if they cannot come to mutually advantageous agreement, a conflict arises. As a rule conflicts are divided into two types: constructive and destructive ones; constructive conflicts are rather positive than negative for the relationship, as they help to increase productivity and to develop some creative ideas; destructive conflicts bear rather negative outcomes for the relationships, as they only reinforce misunderstanding and confrontation and are able to ruin relations at all. Negotiations make an integral part of the process of conflict resolution and usually happen, when the parties, involved into a conflict realize, that they need each other and need to continue their relationships, “when they have established their own concerns, become willing to work on both compatible and overlapping goals, establish a “power balance”¯ where people feel free to “come to the table”¯, and when procedures are set in place so people can talk with each other in a problem solving manner”¯ (Wilmot and Hocker, 2007).

For any negotiation process the assessment of the power, as well as the structure of the actual situation, are vitally important; based on this the parties regulate their behavior in order to get maximum of the desired and are looking for acceptable ways to solve the conflict (Wilmot and Hocker, 2007).

Negotiation process as well as communication belongs to normal everyday activities of all people. For example if a husband wants to watch football and his wife would prefer to go to cinema, there is a necessity for them to negotiate all the possibilities and come to some agreement, otherwise there will rise a conflict and it will spoil the evening for both of them. Other situations of negotiation also often happen at the workplace, when some disputes are to be solved.

There are two approaches to negotiation: competitive and collaborative (Wilmot and Hocker, 2007). Some researchers state, that negotiations do not only depend on skills of the parties, also on culture. Culture’s frames define the borders for acceptability in negotiations. For example “some countries see North America as rude and aggressive for trying to get what we want while others see North America as naĆÆve for not bargaining”¯ (Wilmot and Hocker, 2007). This is first of all because Western culture is more inclined to competitive negotiations, which are concentrated upon lose/win options. The parties, which take part in negotiations, are aimed at getting of maximum of their “wins”¯ and minimum of their “losses”¯ (French and Raven,1989). The parties of the competitive negotiations are interested in maximum of information about their opponents, whereas do their best in order to hide facts about themselves. The manner of communication during competitive negotiations is rather forceful, with usage of threats.

In case if one of the sides makes a mistake or reveals its weak points, the other party immediately gains more control over the situation and power imbalance occurs. Competitive negotiations might have a lot of disadvantages. “People involved use coercive tactics, work against each other instead of with each other, and use deceptive communicative techniques such as deception and threats”¯ (Wilmot and Hocker, 2007). As an example negotiations in the court between the lawyer and public prosecutor might be taken. They are working on the same case and thus need to negotiate, at the same time their aims are opposite to each other and in order to stand up for their positions they are to be competitive.

A good option to competition might be collaboration. The major principle of this type of negotiations is gaining advantages for both of the parties, although each of them has its own interests and goals. “This places the value on relationship since trust and disclosure of pertinent information is required to make the process work. There are several ways to expand the resources and use creative thinking to solve the conflict”¯ (Wilmot and Hocker, 2007).

One of the examples of such negotiations could be, when two companies are speaking about prices and terms of delivery of goods. The supplier wants to have higher prices for his goods and customer in his turn in interested in rapid delivery of them. Thus if both parties agree, the customer will pay more money, but will get his goods quicker, than it is foreseen in the initial contract. “While neither party gets exactly what they want, they both get something from the conflict because they came up with a creative way to meet both needs”¯ (Kenneth, 1992). This is evident, that collaborative negotiations need special skills and application of the corresponding techniques to be finally successful for both parties.

Overall, in this paper we studied the nature of the negotiation process, the two major types of negotiations, along with their advantages and disadvantages and we can conclude, that apart of certain rare situations, collaborative negotiations seems to be more rewarding to both parties and thus should be preferable in the process of communication.

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