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close this bookNegotiator : The Councilor as Negotiator: Handbook 7 (UN Habitat - United Nations Centre for Human Settlements )
close this folderPart II - Workshop on the councilor as negotiator
View the documentOverview
View the documentWarn - up exercises: what kind of negotiator are you?
View the documentTrainer presentation
View the documentRole play/case study: the bulldozer disagreement
View the documentExercise: the language of negotiation
View the documentRole play/case study: hawker/council confrontation
View the documentSkill transfer exercise

Exercise: the language of negotiation

Time required: 120 minutes

Objective

To foster a better understanding of the language of negotiation and its usefulness to elected leaders in various cultures.

Process

Distribute a list of common techniques and phrases used by experienced negotiators in some parts of the world (list can be found on the next page). Ask participants to read the techniques and phrases and answer several questions about each of them as they relate to negotiation practices in their work environments.

Divide participants into small groups of five to seven and ask them to discuss the usefulness of the various negotiating techniques and phrases to councilors in their countries and to suggest alternatives.

Reconvene the participants after 30 minutes and ask for reports from each of the groups. General discussion.

Common negotation phrases and techniques

In their acclaimed book, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, Fisher and Ury use the term "principled negotiation" to describe a method of negotiation that is tough and fair at the same time - a way that, according to the authors, "shows you how to obtain what you are entitled to and still be decent."

Shown below are some stock phrases that a negotiator who practices principled negotiation might use to get what he or she wants from someone else without creating hurt feelings or a desire to get even.

1. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

When confronting another party about an issue to be resolved, the experienced negotiator will avoid language or behaviour that might make the other party feel threatened or defensive. For example, when bringing up an issue over which there is likely to be disagreement, the negotiator might say, "Please correct me if I'm wrong." By this statement, the negotiator assumes a posture of openness to persuasion and the appearance of willingness to consider the possibility of being mistaken about the other party's position.

Question? ...

Is this a negotiating technique that might be used by councilors in your country? If so, what language would you use, the same or something different? If not, what behaviour or language would you consider more effective?

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2. Could I ask you a few questions ...?

Statements of fact can be threatening to people. Questions, on the other hand, allow for discussion and possible correction of errors in facts. By saying, "Could I ask you a few questions to see if my facts are right?" the experienced negotiator puts people at ease and gives the appearance of being open to the possibility of having received bad information.

Question? ...

Is this a negotiating technique that might be used by councilors in your country? If so, what language would you use, the same or something different? If not, what behaviour or language would you consider more effective?

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3. Let me see if I understand ...

Parties who are negotiating for something often take a position based on incomplete or incorrect information (e.g., what they thought they heard the other party say or what they thought the other party meant by saying it). The experienced negotiator has learned to check out what has been said before offering a position. This is done by paraphrasing what has been heard or repeating it verbatim. Expressions like, "Let me see if I understand what you are saying," can prevent misunderstanding and show the negotiator's sincerity in trying to communicate.

Question? ...

Is this a negotiating technique that might be used by councilors in your country? If so, what language would you use, the same or something different? If not, what behaviour or language would you consider to be more effective?

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4. Let me show you where I have trouble ...

Experienced negotiators will explain what bothers them about the other party's proposal before presenting their own proposals (e.g., "Let me show you where I have trouble with what you are proposing"). This is done to show the negotiator's openness to persuasion while encouraging the other party to listen instead of objecting or offering counterproposals.

Question? ...

Is this a negotiating technique that might be used by councilors in your country? If so, what language would you use, the same or something different? If not, what behaviour or language would you consider more effective?

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5. A fair solution might be ...

To appear flexible but still specific in offering a proposal, the experienced negotiator might say something like, "A fair solution might be ...." The negotiator, thereby, creates the impression that he or she has thought of something that has the advantage of fairness to both sides. The negotiator's intent is to forward an idea without appearing rigid or uncompromising to the other party.

Question? ...

Is this a negotiating technique that might be used by councilors in your country? If so, what language would you use, the same or something different? If not, what behaviour or language would you consider more effective?

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6. If we agree .... If we disagree ....

The objective of the experienced negotiator is to make it as easy as possible for the other party to agree. A useful strategy for doing this is for the negotiator to point out the rewards of agreement with his or her proposal (something good the other party can get just by agreeing) and the consequences of failing to reach an agreement (something the other party would find unsatisfactory or disagreeable should no agreement be reached). The negotiator leaves the unpleasant alternative open as a possibility, but with an expression of confidence that an agreement can be reached.

Question? ...

Is this a negotiating technique that might be used by councilors in your country? If so, what language would you use, the same or something different? If not, what behaviour or language would you consider more effective?

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Author's Note: The stock phrases for the preceding exercise come from chapter 2 of Fisher, Roger, and Ury, William, Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, an acclaimed work on effective negotiating which is cited in the essay that opens this handbook.