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Tactics to Bring Negotiation within ZOPA

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What are some general tactics to facilitate (of finalize) a bargain that is within the zone of agreement?

Too often, parties are within the negotiation ZOPA, yet the negotiation stalls or fails. Parties must become familiar with tactics designed to bring parties to a final agreement. Some examples of effective tactics include:

• Provide Alternatives – Creative negotiators will determine the interests or objectives of the counterparty and bundle options or scenarios in unique ways to appeal to these interests. Begin thinking of possible combinations of interests and how they rank with regard to value. Understanding which interests are most valuable to you is imperative. Presenting multiple options (all representing concessions) simultaneously will allow the counterparty to choose. Packaging offers of similar or equal value can to negotiator can help to identify aspects of greater interest to the counterparty. This will allow the negotiator to avoid anchoring with regard to any aspect of the negotiation. Presenting bundled offers will deflect the parties interest in a single interest and can overcome impasses. Identifying packages of offers makes it appear that you are not a positional negotiator. Remember, packages should all be of equivalent value or attractiveness.

⁃ Note: Providing alternatives may be difficult in distributive negotiations. Often, there is a single finite source or interest or benefit for which the parties are negotiating.

• Assume the Close – Confidence is a formative communication tool and tactic in a negotiation. Communicating with a counterparty in a manner that assumes an agreement or resolution of a conflict creates cognitive incentives to reach an agreement. Further, it may create an emotional state in which the other party continues to negotiate in pursuit of an agreement in attempt to avoid disappointing the negotiator.

• Split the difference – Generally, splitting the difference between points of negotiation is not a strong tactic. It leave money on that table for a party who may be able to claim greater value through continued negotiation. This strategy is effective, however, when the parties are very near to an agreement and must overcome a small separation in value being claimed. Splitting the difference entails fairness theories of equality. It fits within a logical paradigm and can creative positive emotions in the other party.

• Exploding offers – An exploding offer is an initial offer or concession that must be accepted within a stated time period or it is withdrawn. Generally, distributive negotiations are competitive. It may not be to the advantage of a negotiator to add an additional layer of competition. Making an offer or concession with a tight deadline, however, is a competitive tactic that may be very useful in urging a party to agreement. An offer that contains an extremely tight deadline in order to pressure the other party to agree quickly could be the measure to convince the other party to accept the settlement and to stop considering outcomes.

• Sweeteners – A sweetener is an additional benefit added to an offer that is already being contemplated by the coutnerparty. The sweetener is used to make a seemingly good offer great and nudge the counterparty into acceptance. A party must be careful using sweeteners. These are often seen by the counterparty as “icing on the cake”. A negotiator may forgo the value of the sweetener unnecessarily if the counterparty was already resolute in accepting the negotiator’s offers. As such, the sweeter is a tactic that should be used sparingly to achieve a strategic objective.

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