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close this bookNegotiator : The Councilor as Negotiator: Handbook 7 (UN Habitat - United Nations Centre for Human Settlements )
close this folderPart I - Essay on the council as negotiator
View the documentDefinition
View the documentSummary
View the documentReflection
View the documentConcepts and ideas
View the documentWin - win negotiating
View the documentAn enlightened view
View the documentReflection
View the documentWhy is negotiating important in local government?
View the documentRespect cultural differences
View the documentReflection
View the documentHow to negotiate more successfully
View the documentPrincipled negotiations
View the documentWhat do you REALLY want?
View the documentDon't announce positions but know what they are
View the documentNegotiation skills: one of the councilor's best friends
View the documentKey points
View the documentReferences

Concepts and ideas

Negotiation is a world-wide practice that spans the full range of human experience. This doesn't mean that all negotiations are the same. How they are conducted depends on the location, the cultural context, the nature of the issues to be addressed, and those conducting the bargaining. While negotiation has been a fixture in diplomacy and labour relations for a long time, it is now recognized as a respectable means to resolve such diverse areas of misunderstanding and disagreement as organizational disputes, colonial independence, commodity worth, and community practices. Negotiation is a dynamic, sociopolitical process involving two or more parties who have agreed to come together to make decisions they are all prepared to live with, although not always with the same degree of satisfaction.

There are some characteristics that differentiate negotiation as a decision-making process from those of legislation and adjudication. For example, there is a mixed-motive aspect to the process. Negotiating parties have both common and conflicting goals. (If only conflicting goals were present, it would be impossible to negotiate. Once the parties have agreed to negotiate, they, at the very least, have that goal in common.)

While it is in both parties' interest to reach agreement on an acceptable allocation of "things being valued," it is generally accepted that each party is interested in gaining as much as possible, or giving up as little as necessary, among those things that are valued. The negotiating process should result in as little lingering resentment as possible toward those sitting on the other side of the table.

Blowing out the other fellow's candle wont make yours shine any brighter.
- Anonymous

Both parties win in the negotiating process (see themselves as better off than they would be without negotiating although may not be as well off as they wanted) or they wouldn't come to an agreement. They also want the other side to be satisfied with the results of the negotiations so agreements that have been made will be honored. These "win-win" solutions are what the experts refer to as non-zero-sum situations. Win-win, non-zero-sum circumstances come about because there is more than a finite sum of things valued to be divided. Either there are things "on the table" that are valued differently by each party, or new options can be generated as a result of the negotiations. For example, each side may give up less valued "goods" for those it values more, or barter away a portion of what it values to keep the rest. What each side is looking for is a "win-win" solution, where each side considers itself better off as a result of the opportunity to negotiate.