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Characteristics Common to All Negotiations

3. What characteristics are common to all negotiations?

Negotiations can vary greatly in their topics, objectives, and parties involves. Nonetheless, there are several characteristics common to all negotiations, including:

• Parties – A negotiation will consist of two or more parties;

• Conflicts, Disputes, or Misalignment of Interests – The negotiators must need to align interests or objectives or to resolve a dispute;

• Willingness – The negotiators must possess a desire to negotiate;

⁃ Note: The parties believe that negotiating will further their interests or aid in achieving their objectives. This generally entails a belief that the other party can be influenced or persuaded to capitulate in some manner in the negotiator’s favor

• Ability to Improve One’s Position – The parties must believe that, by negotiating, they have the ability to improve their positions to be better than the best available alternative available if they do not negotiate; and

⁃ Note: Constraints may come in any form and make the alternative to negotiation less tenable. Aversions are a cognitive disposition with regard to a perceived result or alternative scenario in the event of a failure to negotiation (i.e., broken relations, harm to reputation, legal actions, etc.).

• Constraints – All negotiations involve various situational attributes, such as time, location, nature of communication, number of parties, and party characteristics.

• Discussion: Can you think of a negotiation scenario where any one or more of these attributes are missing? How are a perceived ability to better one’s position and a willingness to negotiate related? How do you think it affects a negotiation when there a multiple parties, some of whom are willing to negotiate and others who are not? Do you think there are ever negotiations where either one or more parties is unable to improve their position?

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