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close this bookTraining for Elected Leadership - The Councillor as Negotiator (HABITAT, 1994, 21 p.)
close this folderPart I: Essay - The Councillor as Negotiator
View the document(introduction...)
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 documentPrincipal 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 councillor's best friends
View the documentKey points
View the documentReferences

What do you REALLY want?

In The Councillor as Decision-maker we talked at some length about how difficult it is to solve a problem before it has been clearly defined. The same kind of dilemma faces the negotiator who is not clear on what he or she wants to accomplish. How often have you heard about a labour union that was locked into very difficult negotiations over an increase in the hourly wages for its members when the members were more concerned about job security. Only when the real concerns of the workers are revealed will they make progress in the negotiations. The owner of the factory is concerned about the long-range consequences of an across-the-board increase, but he or she may be quite happy to consider job tenure if it is tied to attrition of the workforce through retirements and voluntary resignations.

Fisher and Ury say a major problem in the negotiating process develops when either side insists on bargaining over position. Taking a position, they remind us, often locks that position in and takes away the flexibility to find alternative solutions. The alternative is to focus on interests. Your position is something you have decided on while your interest is what caused you to take that position. Often your interest remains unknown to the person on the other side of the table. It pays to be more open - to reveal more of why you have taken a position rather than reinforcing your position. A position is, well, a position. That's where we stand until we change it; the our position is, well, a newly defined stand. On the other hand, our interests may be varied and multiple.

Taking a position is a little like defining your problem as a solution. Once you've done this, it is very hard to come up with alternatives. It is better to spend time on finding the problem. Once it's found, the solution is often self-evident. The same is true of those interests that drive us to take a position in a bargaining situation. Many of the same principles apply whether we are exploring interests or problems.

Often the negotiation process gets bogged down in “personalities.” We focus on the individual and not the problem that brought us together in the first place. When this happens, it is best to spend whatever time it takes to resolve the personal problems before going on. People problems, in the negotiation process, emerge when: (a) perceptions are either misunderstood or misinformed, (b) emotions get out of hand, or (c) there is a breakdown in communications. When any one of these people problems take precedent over the real problem being negotiated, it's time to shift attention to the bottleneck.

You can not sew buttons on your neighbor's mouth.
- Russian proverb

Effective negotiators are effective problem solvers. The reverse is equally true. We covered problem solving in The Councillor as Decision Maker, but let's take a another look at the basics.

· First, find the problem. What is it? Where is it? When is it? Who does it include? And, why is it a problem?

· Secondly, what do you want to accomplish by solving the problem? What are the outcomes you're looking for?

· Thirdly, what are the options available to solve the problem and reach your objective?

· Finally, what steps will you need to take to carry out your best option and achieve your goal?

When we explored the particulars of decision making in the handbook on The Councillor as Decision-maker, we stressed the importance of focusing on the quality of the decision and its acceptance by those it will affect. Both of these criteria are important in the negotiation process. Effective negotiators do more than concern themselves with the quality and acceptance of their gains from the negotiations. Th also help the other side achieve high-quality results that are also acceptable to those who will be affected by the final decisions reached at the negotiation table.