Next Article: Steps to improve the communication process
Back to: NEGOTIATIONS
What is communicated during a negotiation?
• Offers, Counteroffers, and Motives – A negotiator communicates her preferences during a negotiation. Selectively relaying preferences can have a powerful influence on the actions of the other party and on outcomes. A communicative framework for negotiation assumes that the communication of offers is a dynamic process; the process is interactive; and various internal and external factors drive the interaction and motivate a bargainer to change his or her offer.
• Information about Alternatives – The existence of a BATNA changes several things in a negotiation: 1) Compared to negotiators without attractive BATNAs, negotiators with attractive BATNAs set higher reservation prices for themselves than their counterparts; 2) Negotiators whose counterparts had attractive BATNAs set lower reservation points for themselves; and 3) When both parties were aware of the attractive BATNA that one of the negotiators had, that negotiator received a more positive negotiation outcome.
• Information about Outcomes – Negotiators should be cautious about sharing their outcomes or even their positive reactions to outcomes with the other party. This is especially true if they are going to negotiate with that party again in the future.
• Explanations – “Social Accounts” is the method used by negotiators to explain things to the other party, especially when negotiators need to justify bad news. Sitkin and Bies (1993) suggest that three types of explanations are important:
⁃ Explanations of mitigating circumstances, where negotiators suggest that they had no choice in taking the positions they did;
⁃ Explanations of exonerating circumstances, where negotiators explain their positions from a broader perspective, suggesting that while their current position may appear negative, it derives from positive motives; and
⁃ Reframing explanations, where outcomes can be explained by changing the context.
• Procedural Matters – Communications regarding what needs to take place and how. It can involve how well the process is going or what procedures might be adopted to improve the situation. Recall that a primary interest of a negotiator may be procedure-based as much as outcome or relationship-based.