The rational and instinctive models of negotiation - ppt

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  • Most of the negotiation literature tends to break negotiation down into three levels. These three levels affect one another in a top-to-bottom fashion, and are addressed sequentially.
    The first level is that at which negotiators set their goal. This setting includes identifying and assessing a need, framing the need and considering outcomes that might satisfy that need. One or more of those outcomes are usually decided as the goal of the negotiation – from the point of view of that negotiator.
    Once negotiators set a goal, they move on to considering which road might best lead towards that goal. After taking into contextual considerations such as their resources, the value of the goal, their assessment of their own capabilities, their assessment of the other’s needs, style of interaction and capabilities, they can decide on a strategy, or a general game plan for proceeding towards their goals. Negotiators might use the dual concerns model to help them choose between different types of available strategies.
    Having chosen a strategy, negotiators choose a series of tactics which are congruent with this strategy and which seek to carry it out. They implement these tactics, and when they encounter tactics and counter-tactics employed by the other party, they implement other tactics – all as an implementation of the original strategy. Of course, negotiators are urged to be flexible. After a period of negotiating on the basis of their strategy, negotiators are advised to take a step back and consider whether their strategy is working, whether their original assessment of the other had been correct, and whether adopting another strategy might be the best way to go. Whether negotiators choose to adopt another strategy, or re-choose to stick with the original game plan, the process dynamic described above plays out once again.
  • However this commonly accepted approach to negotiation, which stresses rational thinking and - above all - choice, might not be an accurate picture of what happens in the room. The reason for this shortcoming is that it doesn’t take into account several important negotiation truths:
    Parties do not always walk into negotiation with a clear goal in mind.
    Parties do not always chose a strategy before walking into the room.
    Parties do not always pre-plan the tactics they will use, and do not always implement the tactics they planned.
    All the above happens for several reasons:
    Many people are not aware of the different strategies available, and do not differentiate between them clearly.
    2) Many people tend to work with the same unnamed game-plan in every situation, regardless of contextual considerations. Thus, they are acting out their ‘style’ or ‘orientation’, and not applying a chosen strategy.
    3) People often adopt a ‘game-plan’, if it can be called that at all, of ‘I’ll walk in the room, see how the other behaves and then decide.
    4) Negotiators often do not dedicate time to preparation prior to entering the room, whether due to actual time-pressure, other considerations or lack of consideration.
    5) When negotiators do prepare for a negotiation session, little of their preparation time is dedicated to the question of ‘What is my goal’, as it assumed that this is to some extent self-obvious and there is no need to clarify or frame it.
    6) While many negotiators will dedicate their preparation time to what they might call ‘strategizing’, they are, in effect, ‘tacticizing’. The discussion will adopt a frame of ‘If they do this, I’ll do that.’ Little time is dedicated to formulating an overall approach or game-plan.
    The overall picture painted by the above is that there might be very little conscious ‘choosing’ going on before parties walk into the room. This is compounded by the suggestion that even those things we do choose and decide upon beforehand are often not implemented. In other words, we may have planned that ‘If they do this, I’ll do that’ but in practice, we often find ourselves not doing ‘that’ at all, but rather taking action of a completely different nature.
    Why is this so? How can we explain the gap between the rational / choice model and negotiation reality?
  • In the previous slide, we saw what that we often don’t apply conscious choice before negotiating. That is not to say that we walk in empty, a blank page prepared to be impressed. We actually walk in with a very powerfully imprinted picture of the situation. However, this does not take the form of a map, clearly delineating where we are, where we want to get to, and what the best route to take is. Instead, we walk into the negotiation with a set of perceptions, and a set of expectations. Both of these mental sets break down into four elements: the situation, ourselves, the other and the outcome:
    Perceptions:
    The Situation: how do we perceive the situation? Is it threatening or friendly? Is it adversarial or cooperative?
    Ourselves: Are we in the right? Are we powerful? Are we conforming to norms?
    The Other: Are they wrong? Are they denying us something that belongs to us, or which we deserve? Have they broken social norms? Are they weak? Will they apply power against us?
    The Outcome: What would a good/fair/suitable outcome be [we have different frames for this, but at any rate – this is a very loose framing of our goals]
    Expectations:
    The Situation: How do we expect the negotiation to unfold? Do we expect the other to resist, or to immediately agree to give us what we need? How do we anticipate communication dynamics will unfold?
    Ourselves: How do we expect ourselves to act? What do we expect ourselves to say? How solid is our expectation that we will control the situation?
    The Other: How do we expect the other to act? How do we expect the other to relate to us, and communicate with us? Do we anticipate resistance? Escalation? Capitulation and accommodation? Do we expect them to conform to certain norms, modes of communication, standards of behavior? Do we expect them to break such norms or standards?
    The Outcome: What do we expect to walk out of the room with? A full agreement? An initial conversation, and a plan for continuing it? Exactly what we demanded? Some compromise outcome? Vindication? Justification for escalation?
    All the above take up a lot of ‘up-front memory’. If we have not framed and defined our goals very clearly, they are likely to recede to the background of our minds even before we walk into the room.
    How do these imprints, which influence our mind-set, affect what happens at the table?
  • To understand how these mind-sets affect the negotiation interaction, the most important thing to remember is that both parties have these maps or schemes. Each party has their own set of expectations and perceptions – and these will rarely, if ever, be identical. More likely than not – they will clash. With these opposing imprints in place, parties encounter each other.
  • When parties first encounter each other, something happens. It might be the first move by one party or the first sentence they say, or it might be something more subtle – body language, tone, an unintended or misinterpreted word, etc. From that first trigger, parties are no longer engaged in a choice-rich process of move and counter-move. Instead, Party B responds to Party A’s move/words, Party A responds to Party B’s, and a dynamic of instinctive, even reflexive (as in – knee-jerk) reactions follows. While this might be interrupted by one party making a conscious choice at some point, the other’s reaction to their words will usually trigger the whole cycle off again.
    Does this sound familiar? This is a dynamic not discussed in most of the negotiation literature, which stresses the cognitive element of negotiation and some of the behavioral element – but to a large extent ignores the emotional and physiological aspects and their connection to behavioral elements. However, I think that we have all seen this dynamic play out – often.
    Why does this happen? Why do we so often abandon any planning we’ve done, and get lost in reactive cycles? Here’s a shortcut to an explanation, but you’ll have to walk the full road on your own, with your own behavior in mind:
    Consider Goleman’s description of the decision-making process, and how in threatening situations this process gets circumvented by a quicker process. Goleman states that when we are under pressure, feeling at risk and threatened a fast-action decision-making center in the amygdala is mobilized, and this center takes action long before the more rational parts of the brain have the opportunity to conduct a cost/benefit analysis and chose a course of action.
    Next, remember Goleman’s explanation of how this center of the brain responds not only in contextually suitable situations (in those common situations where we encounter some Jurassic-Park type beast, threatening to devour us on the street), but in other situations which trigger this mobilization as well. These include social and interpersonal interactions, where some sense of threat exists even though no overt threat exists, and even though our survival is not on the line in the first place. Whenever we feel at risk, threatened, weakened, etc. – our mind switches over, to some extent to Control Center B, and a less rational side of us is calling the shots.
    To tie this into negotiation, consider this question: Do you usually view negotiating as a fun, enjoyable thing to do, that you would do to pass the time even when you don’t need to, and that you look forward to when getting up in the morning? Or, is there more often some degree of worry, concern, anxiety connected to it? Or, of course – do you simply hate it, and find ways to avoid it? If your answer is anywhere on the spectrum between ‘Yes, some anxiety’ and ‘Aagghhhh!!!,’ you are likely to find yourself negotiating from your amygdala. In order to understand the precise dynamics of how this affects you and how you act as a result, you need to consider your own emotional state and your actions in negotiation with this in mind.
  • However, this is only half the story. If this was all there was to it, you would expect that after some point – in a particular negotiation process, or after having participated in a dozen negotiation processes – we would understand what was happening, and find some way to deal with it. Since we obviously don’t, there must be something else at play here, an element of this dynamic concerned with covering its tracks.
    To a great extent, we pride ourselves on our ability to act rationally. We insist on having a logical explanation for our actions, to defend ourselves from accusations of having made bad decisions for the wrong reasons. Part of our self-image is built on our ability to cope, to deal with tough situations, and prevail.
    This self-image simply cannot co-exist together with the way we so often find ourselves acting (or – reacting). We find ourselves in a form of a self-image cognitive dissonance. Two pictures are held up to our mind: the picture of how we want to see ourselves behaving, and the picture of how we actually behave. The mind cannot give both of these pictures space; one yields to the other or rather – our mind selects one, and represses the other.
    Here are some ways this repression takes place:
    The brain does not allow certain images to register – we simply don’t ‘see’ things
    The brain selects which images to retain, and which to delete or at least bury very deep down
    The brain selects the words through which we tell ourselves the story of the interactions, framing the way we view it.
    Finally, this repression takes the form of reconstruction: we re-write the story of what led us to the negotiation table, what we wanted to achieve there, what our plan was, what we did there and what we actually achieved. Let’s break that down:
    Much like the wolf who explained that he did not want the sour grapes in the first place, we reconstruct our goals: carefully framing the goals post-facto in terms of something we have achieved, instead of something we have failed to achieve.
    We rewrite our actions (which may have been no more than knee-jerk reactions) into tactics, in other words – carefully thought out actions aimed to implement a strategy.
    We rewrite our strategy to explain our actions: In other words, rather than admit that we did not choose a strategy in the first place, or that we acted in ways that were diametrically opposite to the strategy we did choose, we portray ourselves as having chosen a strategy - the one that is best expressed by all of our so-called tactics and best explains them. Next, we justify the choice of this strategy based on our goal, or on an assessment of the other, which might be based less on reality and more on our need to justify this strategy.
    All this explains why, if we were to tell a friend that we engaged in an argument over a seat on the bus with a priest, culminating in us punching the priest (sorry for any sensitivities, this is a true story a student once told me…), we would probably not say ‘I really wanted the seat, he wouldn’t give it to me, I screamed at him, saw red and then punched him in the face’. We would probably say ‘It wasn’t so much the seat as the principal of the thing: the guy thought his status made him better than the rest of us. I hate it when they do that! And when he started screaming at me, I tried to contain the situation and talk it out but I was worried he had a gun or something under his robes, so when he made a move I had to neutralize him, in self-defense.’ (Do not try this at home, people)
    This post-facto explanation reconstructs our goal (standing on our principles, defending the little guy everywhere), our strategy (beginning with cooperation but moving – in self defense – into limited competition) and our tactics (our screaming and punching has been reconstructed into ‘containing’, ‘talking it out’ and ‘neutralizing’).
  • Coming back to the rational / choice model, we can say several things:
    There is nothing inherently wrong with this model, we simply need to expand it to incorporate emotion, perceptions and expectations into our decision-making and choice mechanisms. To take this further, I would say that the more choices we make ahead of time (by framing our goal, choosing a strategy and planning out tactics before walking into the room) the better chance we have of sticking to this map throughout the negotiation.
    As it is now, we use the rational / choice model for two purposes, which are probably not its best uses:
    First, to analyze negotiation processes after they have occurred. This is the language of negotiation analysis, whenever the literature examines case studies. As we have seen, to do so leaves us with an incomplete analysis.
    Second, to reconstruct and justify our actions post-facto. When describing our own negotiation experiences to ourselves or to others, we reconstruct them back towards the rational / choice model, using the terms ‘decision’, ‘choice’, ‘goal, ‘strategy’ and ‘tactics’ despite the fact that these had very little to do with what went on in the room.
    How can we avoid the traps we’ve described in this presentation? Well, for the purposes of this presentation, let’s suffice with the most powerful tool for improving our negotiation abilities: awareness. The more we are aware of the interplay between the two models, of our own instinctive triggers and of the potential of reaction cycles to take over a negotiation process, the more adept we will become at guiding events in other directions.
  • The rational and instinctive models of negotiation - ppt

    1. 1. The Rational/Choice Model of Negotiation (and – how negotiation really works) Noam Ebner, 2003
    2. 2. The Rational / Choice Model of Negotiation GOAL STRATEGY Strategic Choice Avoidance Yielding Competition Compromise Tactic Cooperation Tactic Tactic Tactic
    3. 3. Is This Really How We Work? GOAL Choice STRATEGY Tactics
    4. 4. The Hidden Level of Negotiation PARTY Expectations Perceptions (GOAL) ENCOUNTER
    5. 5. Setting Up the Encounter PARTY B PARTY A Expectations Perceptions Expectations Perceptions GOAL GOAL ENCOUNTER
    6. 6. What Happens at the Table? PARTY A Expectations PARTY B Perceptions Expectations ENCOUNTER GOAL Perceptions GOAL REACTION REACTION REACTION
    7. 7. What Happens After We Leave the Table? Goal ENCOUNTER Strategy REACTION REACTION Tactics REACTION RECONSTRUCTION
    8. 8. Tying It All Together

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