Negotiations are discussions aimed at reaching an amicable agreement during times of crisis, conflicts, impending situational disagreements and business deals. Negotiations involve two or more parties who have disagreed to agree. In conflicts there are many underlying reasons that upshot inform of conflicts or disagreements. The conflicts that come out of a disagreement are just a fraction; there is a dark side that may reveal more in that particular disagreement. Negotiations themselves are not always agreements but disagreements and there may be acrimony in the process. In any negotiation process disagreements are healthy.
Negotiation is the most interesting but brain sapping profession. It is a pull and a push game that needs personalities of nobility and tactical endurance in the process. It will neither fit the faint hearted nor the bad tempered personalities. The approach to the profession is, the tougher, the sharper and the divergent the disagreement is in any negotiation, the more it reveals the underlying currents or waves of the situation and the better the solutions to the problem. Many disagreements always carry along seriously deep seated problems. Always many open disagreements end up with absolutely good resolutions. All kinds of disagreements and conflicts have their solutions but all depends on abilities and approaches in practice of the negotiators. Partisan interests perpetuate and accelerate animosity or disagreements and hence it becomes difficult to arrive at a solution.
One of the world classic negotiations was or is the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations that committed or involved many members/ countries and observers with diverse interests. Some interests were a prompted shot to disrupt and spoil the whole process. The World Trade Organization comprises of many members and observers. Some have been strongly opposed to the negotiations as they feel jeopardized by globalization. The more the members the difficulty the situation was in reaching workable solutions and resolutions. Commitment to arrive at the negotiating table was a good sign bearing in mind that anything of such meeting or summits there are riots associated with opposition to globalization. The harmonious consensus that was reached at was as a result of positive attitudes of member states. This is a virtue that is tagged along any negotiation process and a good example is the World Trade Organization, which nurtured members’ attitudes. The environment was conducive for the members to lay down aspects to be reflected in order to ensure sustainable development for all. Always a good outcome is realized depending on the abilities of negotiators and the characteristic they exhibit in the negotiating table. Every single interest of all members is very important as this is a building block for any consensus that may be reached at. It takes great sacrifice for negotiators from member states to arrive at an agreement of this magnitude. As there are many characteristics of negotiators that contribute to a greater success even though a few members were left mumbling, that it was not such a that mumbling that would have cast doubt in the whole process. It was win-a-win agreement for all members at the end of the session.
Characteristics of WTO negotiators.
There were many positive characteristics that were exhibited in these WTO negotiations. One of the most dominant uniqueness was attitude. Every member was determined and hopeful that the resolution was a must. Solutions and resolutions that could have been arrived at were standard for all members and observers. This is a must-do job was the attitude of many member states.
Transparency is the key to any negotiation. This is what happened and it is currently happening with the World Trade Organization ministerial committee. Everything is discussed openly and as the language of negotiations says- nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. Therefore, any small arising issue must be looked into deeply and tackled accordingly to ascertain the truth and forge forward. This kind of negotiation that involves hundreds of members is always tricky in the reason that everybody wants to contribute or may have a complaint that fits their setting from there countries. As many may want to contribute in any issue time must be a factor. The factor of concern is such that every single item must be discussed. That is, negotiations may not take a very short time or very long time. Negotiations must be moderated to take care of time. A lot of time may disorient many participants, therefore a break is necessary. The smooth learning of any negotiations is realized when step by step procedures are followed. In every step all matters are discussed and every member agrees to what has been discussed and questions are asked to confirm the understanding of the agreement that may be reached at. At the end of every item represented comments are also allowed to ensure there are no disgruntled members.
At WTO transparency encouraged developing countries as members were determined to realize economic development to raise the leaving standards of their people a notch higher as opportunities are appreciated between them and developed countries. Many developing nations or poor nations have opted to join the world multilateral trade system. Favoritism is not encouraged as this may sideline other nations. Every member country in all aspects must be equal to others unless otherwise few things are considered. Negotiations always become handy in such moments. If equality is not practical at the end of the negotiations some member states may feel as losers and others to be winners. It is a rule of thumbs that in any negotiations there must be no loser or winner. Therefore, if there is a winner that means all members in the negotiations table are winners. If one is a loser then all are losers. With this observation many negotiations end up successful. Hence in negotiations every part or simply all members are equal no matter how they are developed or underdeveloped. But some developing countries are vulnerable due to difficulties facing them right from economic crisis to the living standards of their populations. And it is good there are other nations acting as watchdogs that may guard against the infringement of these poor nations. Some view conditions are bent so as to shelter meaningful incorporation of these countries into this multilateral trade organization the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Commitment is another characteristic of good negotiators, which allows and enables them to reach a solution and a resolution that caters for all interest of every member state. A commitment to the objectivity on realization of negotiation terms and commitment to the implementation of what has been achieve in the negotiation table this urge to achieve all these solutions or in general all negotiated agreement depicts success of participating space.
Every passing year challenges are increasing because of the expansion of World Trade Organization membership. Every time a new member joins the previous resolutions take a different twist because of the new member’s specific interest in the organization. Interests may be unique and hence both humility and agility of the negotiators are tested or are put into test. This is where commitments play a major role as the new kids join the block (new kids are just new and young members in organization).
Wise negotiators never approach the situation with already set minds or the approach better known a positional mentality. With this positional mentality, a quick settlement of any issue is not found or reached at. Countries that have positional mentality were requested to accept general world trade organization negotiations terms were on the table or else step aside and be observers. This enabled the negotiators to find solutions for bending issues.
Influencing tactics in negotiations
There are several tactics in place and in practice that are engaged in negotiations of every kind. One of the tactics is the forming sub committees which will be able to analyze negotiations in small or specific subject matters. There were team leaders or chairpersons who are appointed to lead and control the groups that discuss various issues that will be reviewed by the top leaders of the organization within the time frame of the meeting. This idea has worked in many circumstances in several issues brought up. The tactic is good but with its own consequences like members not allowed to choose who to join this group or that group. The members are from various countries in one group. This scenario creates an environment of diverse interest which will generate universal resolutions. It must not be that members gang up themselves specifically to discuss an issue negatively against other groups. So, the agenda must be specific and within given time, this will ensure other issues must not jump in, issues that are outside the main agenda. For instance countries should not discuss each other for this will create disunity. Therefore negotiators allocate each group appropriate time depending on the understanding and the weight of the item. A good team of negotiators comprises of members of differing opinions or views and if all standards of negotiations are observed they will come up with rock- solid solutions.
At the end of the day there is a committee that comprises of chairpersons who have the mandate to discuss and evaluate the recommendations further from the various subcommittees for a general presentation to all members, observers and other interested parties. Delegations of powers to subcommittees build self- confidence and self-esteem. The self esteem will in return empower determination.
The influence of winner-a-winner is encouraged at this level, this will translate to all members that they are winners. The World Trade Organization (WTO) employed this approach and many members who were not sure of the offer joined other members and today the giant trade organization is making inroads to many countries that were skeptical. Hoffman (1950) says, “yet we all want to be winners- which means we all have to be able to win and frequently enough to keep up our sense that we are winner. Sometimes being perceived as a winner is more important than what was won. But to be a winner in a win or lose world is very difficult for anyone. Negotiation is our opportunity to win, but it is winning of a different kind. It is hardly a negotiation if the other side gets everything unless you wanted them to, where giving them everything makes you somehow feel happy as though you too have. Won negotiation is a give and take process”
The preference of this kind of atmosphere prevails, assumingly, the end result is acceptable and the difficult parts or sections of the negotiations will be tackled. The challenge of bringing people to the table of negotiations is the toughest challenge of all other processes and if it happens, then this is a big deal, especially where many people are involved.
Another important characteristic is fairness, which encompasses the whole process of negotiation. If the virtue of fairness will or may not prevail then the cost of the negotiation will shoot up. In brief to cut down costs fairness should be practiced throughout the process that is right from the beginning to the end. World Trade Organization (WTO) has shown the way of reaching agreements through negotiation no matter how difficulty the situation is or was when the whole process was put into a wrong spin by members who were anti- globalization. Traders compete for maximum profit and better placed benefits hence it is illogical to waste money, the commodity they are looking for or which has locked their horns. Fairness promotes efficiency in many negotiation environments. Fairness enables the parties or members to concede to some demands from other members so as to observe and realize continuity. The attitude of negotiation must encompass novelty. Any members should have the heart and guts of tolerating and caring about other members’ demands. Juggling of the issues on the negotiating table wisely will bring a stable outcome.
The element of interest is also important in any negotiation, if this or that party takes positions then there is a reason behind every interest. So, a good negotiator will want to know what are the interests and why the particular interests. Interests behind positions taken by various parties before and right in the negotioan table are important or vital to find a solution. World Trade Organization (WTO) took this direction of determining the interest behind positions of all member states.
Other approach or tactic like the kind of expected people to meet on the negotiating table is paramount and essential. This will empower even the negotiator to prepare wisely for the negotiation. For instance, WTO’s members each other before the meeting and the respective preferences. This makes it easy not to waste anytime as they strike a deal on the likes they share. But this incident must be carefully executed to take care of new comers on the negotiating table. Bone of contention remains won what they have differed on and the kind of people discussing the matter or issue. It is different to deal with a single person as with dealing with a company or organization. Some may decide to write their proposal as others may want to do the talking or argue verbally. This will enable chairpersons to develop an approach that will be assimilated by all parties on the negotiation table. The approach is complex bargaining.
Concession is the backbone of all and any negotiations in the world. Concession is the giving in of some demands. It is necessary and important for any party in negotiations to plan and prepare how to make the concessions. Some nations in the World Trade Organization were given time to make concessions by postponing the meeting for the ministers to consult their heads of state to plan for the items to make concessions on.
According to Hoffman (1950), a relationship is very important in a negotiation. The relationship is all about knowing other’s interests, developing options together, agreeing or disagreeing on standards that are presented, communicating to persuade and develop trust and confidence to strike a deal. Relationship is part and parcel of a negotiation. In reference to WTO the first day of their meetings they allow member to mingle and exchange goodies so as to know each other.
Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement (BATNA).
In negotiations of all kinds, a few elements are vital for instance communication interests, alternatives, options, legitimacy of standard relationships and commitments. Options must be aimed at satisfying every member’s interest for the agreement to be arrived at sooner. Proposals are to be respected and the only honor is to commit themselves and honor the final agreement.
The sense of alternatives is to widen the scope of the solutions such that no member or party that may be left grumbling. The only best way is to use BATNA-Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement. The perception of the best alternative negotiated agreement is not complex as such. This is the strategy used or that may be used in many negotiations including the world trade organizations. Hoffman (1950) said, “alternatives will give you power when you are negotiating because the better the alternative the less you need what you are trying to get in the negotiation, it informs you whether you accept the deal or the proposed in front of you or should you walk away”. This is why lobbying is very vital because it undoes the agenda and alternatives are easily generated to guide the whole process of negotiation. This lobbying which goes hand in hand with alternatives is used in the major decisions while negotiating for big deal. This ensures unquestionable compromises.
Hoffman (1950), further states, “some deals are about money and many aren’t. The once that are about money will require that you take your best alternative and give some monetary value”. World trade organization deals with trade and all items of every kind are of monetary value. This giant organization applied and still continues to apply the best alternative to negotiated agreement approach. This is the approach that has ensured the success of its endeavors. Small or big magnitude negotiation employ best alternative to negotiated agreements. Simple negotiations like buying a car where you buy it in cash or in installments payment. In either of the two monetary values is involved, so the question is where will your monetary value be of value?
Complex bargaining is the grouping of countries using a cluster analysis procedure. The grouping or blocking is generated from their common interests and the level of their internal homogeneity. Countries in the WTO negotiations are identified according to their economical status and strength and the policies so that their positions are weighed then grouped into their respective clusters. For instance the G8 countries, African countries and Asian countries are blocked in that manner.
Ingredients to realize success in negotiations:
First and foremost, it is important to know what one wants. The member states of World Trade Organization put all their needs on the negotiating table as step number one. They have a positive attitude by believing in finding a solution and bearing in mind that costs exist and spending a lot in the negotiation might be otherwise a negative trend. Then a framework in the following parameters will be essential, various exercises and their times tabled, clarifying the best alternative to negotiated agreement, of both or all parties in the negotiation. A list should be generated having all interests in a chronological approach. Power must be exhibited and should not be mistakenly associated with force. Negotiation is a bargaining process. And therefore, the power mentioned is not at all about force. Hoffman (1950) says, “You need to have power when you negotiate. You need to recognize the role of power and play your hand in such a way that shows you need to understand power and that you are prepared and capable of using, but not abusing it”.
Science/art of persuasion
This art of persuasion is extremely vital and applicable in every stage of a negotiation. In many conflicts apart from the ones within World Trade Organizations the art of persuasion is very delicate. The art of persuasion is delicate because the main protagonists in the conflict or disagreement cannot see eye to eye. It takes energy and morale to persuade people who are bitter enemies to sit on one table and later shake hands. This is where personalities of unswerving integrity are of need. The simple question is which comes first? Shaking hands or sitting around one table. The simple gesture with a lot of meaning is to have them sit on one table first and exchange a few ideas especially putting down programmes for another meeting and the agenda. At the end of the initial meeting, they will shake hands and part ways. For the crises that arise in the World Trade Organization are not of this magnitude hence the approach of persuasion is totally different. The power that is exhibited in WTO is lesser compared to the power that may be applied in conflicts of higher magnitudes.
Hoffman, B 1950, ‘conflict, power and persuasion negotiating effectively’, viewed on 8 August, 2008,