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How to Improve International Negotiation Skills

By Brooks

Due to the wars that existed and the quest for the maintenance of peace, treaties or bilateral negotiations had to be entered into by states. Also, with growing issues that transcends national boundaries, and the complex nature of our present world, the practice of international relations and bilateral trade agreements are imperative for sustainable development. International relation comes at a time when the world is turning more of her focus on human rights and environmental conservation, migration crisis, globalization, world security and worldwide poverty. This makes international relations to dwell more on interdisciplinary research which addresses issues on public policies. There is therefore necessity to improve on bilateral negotiation skills of those who engage to carry out the act.

International relation is highly valued because it;

-          Encourages and endorses effective trade strategies.

-          Promotes tourism and migration thereby providing people with opportunities to improve their lives.

-          Also allows nations to collaborate with one another, share information easily, better mobilize resources and pool them, deal with pressing issues like pandemics, environment and terrorism.

-          International relations equally improve on cultural exchange, development policy as well as diplomacy.

After looking at the values of international relations, it will be important to examine the various negotiation tactics which have been put in place to facilitate and benefit all negotiators.

 This is done using the principles of fairness, seeking win-win benefits while maintaining an already established relationship.

At this juncture, it will be important to look at the characteristics of the negotiation process as that will enable us to dive into the negotiation process proper.

Characteristics of negotiation

a)    There should exist a minimum of two parties for negotiation to take place.

b)    Both have goals which they intend to attain.

c)    There is the existence of a clash in the goals of the parties where both parties don’t share same point of view.

d)    Both parties have chosen negotiation because they have confidence in it.

e)    Both parties are flexible and willing to compromise with each other.

f)      The unsuitability of each parties’ goals towards the other may hinder the adjustment of each other’s position.

g)    The parties in an international negotiation since they are the ones who chose this method understand its purpose very well.

After examining the characteristics of the negotiation process, one will now duel on the negotiation proper.

The Negotiation Process

The different stages in the negotiation process are presented below:

1.   Preparation:

In any bilateral trade agreement or international relations negotiation, in order to be successful, one must prepare. This involves when and where the negotiation has to take place and specifications have to be made as to who should attend and who not to do so. At this stage, a time frame has to be set and everyone has to be clarified on their position. Being well prepared makes you to have an edge over the other party in the course of negotiating. The preparation phase involves:

a)    Assembling of information: Learn about the trade prescriptions or the dispute to establish what type of data to gather for use in the course of the negotiation.

b)    Evaluate your influence in the negotiation: in international or in bilateral trade negotiation, it is always important to weigh your influence with that of your counterpart at the onset. This permits you to improve or reduce on influences.

c)    Understand each other: in a bilateral trade agreement, it is good you know the people who are involved in the negotiation. This will assist you during the negotiation process to understand the part they will have to play as this will help to facilitate better handling of the situations under negotiation.

d)    Empathy: In order to effectively embark in an international negotiation, it is good to establish a relationship with the other party especially during the early stage before you start the negotiation process. This will make the opponent to collaborate with the you and you will be able to negotiate better.

e)    Master your goals: In a bilateral trade agreement, knowing and mastering of your objective is primordial as that will enable you determine in advance what your priorities are and what you can give up. Prepare beforehand all your answers to prospective questions and any justification which might be needed. 

f)      Estimate the type of negotiation: This point makes you to ascertain how the negotiation process will look like and how it will be done too. Also decide the negotiation approach to be used in order to know what plan to use which will be suitable.

Any preparation done before entering into negotiation will help the parties involved to avoid wasting time and to easily negotiate freely.

2.   Opening Phase:

During this stage, the parties come together face to face. When they meet, each of them will be trying to impress and influence the other and sway their reasoning on the issue at hand. The parties set the pace for negotiation by putting forward the case as it is or as they have understood the situation at hand. The bilateral negotiation skills used at this stage is questioning of each other, listening or taking notes to what each other has to say and equally expounding any doubts in the course of the negotiation. During this stage both parties should be given equal opportunities to present their case in the course of the negotiation as that will help them arrive at a conclusion easily.

3.   Negotiating Phase:

At this phase of the negotiation process, the parties are drawing closer to their goals. The negotiation technique used here is to convince the counterpart of the pertinence of your goals and as such, forcing the other party to accept your goals.  This is done by clarifying each other of all barriers which can hinder the negotiation process in order to reach a beneficial outcome. One has to be very diplomatic and plan your arguments well by listing all needs in order of priority.

4.   Closure Phase:

Lay emphasis on all what was done in previous phases as will assist the parties at this last phase to better seal the agreement. So one should really take off time to review each element from the various stages to benefit from what went well and what needs to be ameliorated. Also, at this stage, the parties get to a ‘win-win’ position where they both gain something in the negotiation process. The best result or the ultimate goal of international negotiation is to feel that your own point of view is taken into consideration.

From the negotiation process, one will then advance to the various negotiation tactics which have been put in place to facilitate negotiation. Knowing the various skills which can be used in negotiation is beneficial for people to between themselves and their opponents.

5.   Arriving at an Agreement:

Once both parties’ interests and viewpoints have been reviewed, an agreement can then be reached. In order to reach this stage in a bilateral trade agreement, it is imperative for all the parties involved in the negotiation process to keep an open mind to be able to accept the terms of agreements which will be recommended. In an international negotiation, any agreement to be arrived at needs to be clear to the both sides so that they know what has been decided.

6.   Implementing a course of action after negotiation:

Once an agreement has been arrived at in the course of negotiation, it has to be implemented in order to be able to carry the decision reached through.

In case the negotiation process fails in such a way that an agreement cannot be arrived at, then, the parties are called upon to reschedule the meeting to a future date. This is very important as this will avoid further arguments which may not only waste time for the parties but may as well damage future relationship between each other. During the next meeting, these stages of the negotiation process should be repeated and any new ideas or interest should be taken into consideration. If there are any alternative solutions, they should be considered.

Negotiation tactics:

  1. Transform anxiety to excitement: During any negotiation process, people always feel uneasy and they have sweaty hands, their heart bits faster and there is apparently a devastating nervousness. This state of mind if not handled with care can rather lead one to make costly decisions. So the best negotiation technique in the face of this type of situation is to try to reform or transform the nervousness into excitement and deal with the situation at hand better. Since this point adds a plus to your self-esteem, it will increase the feelings of excitement in you and enable you to perform better during the negotiation process.
  2. Get into the negotiation with a draft agreement: The tendency is that the person who makes the first offer in the negotiation process is likely to influence the discussion in his/her favour. So to make an impact in the discussion, you may want to open up to sub discussions with a draft agreement prepared by a legal officer. This draft agreement is very important in international negotiations as it does not only make one to have an influence over the negotiation, but equally saves both time and money thereby making this negotiation tactic worth trying for those who want to get into international negotiations.
  3. Draw on your power of silence: Silence gives one the possibility to stifle his drives to be able to better advocate, thereby increasing one’s drive to listen better. This is one of the best negotiation tactics which enable one, after the counter-party has spoken to be silent for some time in order to absorb and digest what he has said before you give a response. This enables one not to rush in the negotiation process and get into some unprofitable negotiation.
  4. Seek advice from your counterpart: Negotiators especially professionals, assume that seeking for advice from some other person means that they are not actually experience. But that is not the case because pass reviews on international negotiations have shown that those partners who asked for advice were more efficient and effective than those who did not. So if one is in dire need for advice, don’t fail to ask from your counterpart as that will help boost your self-confidence and may be able to strengthen the relationship in the process.
  5. Try a fair offer as pertains to the final-offer arbitration: statistics have shown that when two parties are into a negotiation to end a dispute under a lawsuit, one of the parties might become frustrated if the counterpart is not able to attain a reasonable offer. If that be the case, one of the negotiation techniques which can be most appropriate, though under used is to turn to final-offer arbitration, in other words it is known as baseball arbitration. In this case, each of the disputing parties submits his best or final offer to an arbitrator who must select one of the two offers and not any other charge. Using this technique in the negotiation process makes the parties’ offers to become a reasonable one.
  6. Extreme demands should be followed up by slow concessions: this is one of the most common negotiation techniques which protects those who make deals from entering into some kind of concessions hastily. This can be made possible if one has a clear sense of his goals in order not to be misled by an aggressive opponent.
  7. Be committed: Be ready for anything when getting in to an international negotiation as your counterpart may find himself in a restricted option to negotiate with you. If that be the case, you might need to negotiate with someone with greater authority to be able to enter into the bilateral negotiation with you, who is acting as the country representative.
  8. Bluffing and lying: distorting or deceitful facts may throw one off negotiation. Carry out inquires before drawing to an end negotiation related to claims or statements which seem to be too good to be truthful.
  9. Carefully select what you have to say: in international relations, one of the most efficient method to employ when you want to negotiate is to establish an understanding between yourself and your counterpart by repeating about two - three words of what he just said. This makes your counterpart to feel secured and can better express and open up to you. This tactic slows down the conversation, thereby giving you enough time to think of your next move.
  10. Practice a planned understanding: This is one of the negotiation techniques that enables you to show to your counterpart that you understand their sentiments in the issue which you are negotiating. Hurry and state their fears while equally stating the worst thing about you before the other party does so. This gives you a better stand on the negotiation ground.
  11. Come to terms with a ‘no’:  People are defensive when they get a ‘yes’ for an answer during a bilateral trade agreement. So if pushed to say ‘yes’, get to a level where you can say a ‘no’, and ask no-oriented questions. This makes the speaker to feel secured and in control of the discussion.
  12. Generate an impression of control in your opponent: In order to gain the leading role in international negotiations, give your opponent the impression that he is in total control. This can be done by not forcing him to admit that you are correct but rather ask questions which enable your opponent to take some time to think before figuring out the answer.
  13. Welcome unreturned offers: usually in bilateral trade agreements, when an offer is made, the other party may make a discount before making his counter offer. If that be the case, don’t dire reduce your demand but rather show proof that you are still waiting for a counteroffer.
  14. Overlook personal and upsetting insults: These insults can make you feel helpless and defenceless. When you find yourself in the course of an international negotiation insulted, point it out immediately to the other party. Also make him to know your feelings and to be aware that you don’t tolerate insults.

Integrative Negotiation:

Integrative negotiation deals with commonalities and not differences. It rather addresses the needs and interests of the parties involved rather than positions. Integrative negotiation allows for exchange of information and ideas, invent options for mutual gain and uses objective criteria to set standards for the parties to follow in the course of international negotiation or in bilateral trade agreement. The integrative negotiation process helps creates a free flow of information by permitting exchange of sufficient information in order to allow creativity, while also understanding the counterpart’s real needs and objectives. In the course of this negotiation, each party prioritizes his needs while emphasising the commonalities between them and as such minimising the differences as well as enhancing the negotiation process between the parties. In this negotiation process, success is measured not by a single parties’ satisfaction, but on the total goal satisfaction of all.

When can integrative negotiation be used?

Integrative negotiation most often is referred to a fix negotiation because it is best in situations where the negotiation between parties will warrant that there should be the sharing or splitting of a limited amount of resources especially in a bilateral trade agreement. In this type of negotiation process, the parties to it must share a common vision which binds them and enables them to effectively collaborate in order to benefit mutually. This depends greatly on their bilateral negotiation skills and ability to freely negotiate a bilateral trade agreement which will be suitable for all negotiating parties. Integrative negotiation is best used in situations where one party realizes that he cannot win over the other. So he uses this in order to get something out of the international negotiations rather than losing out on everything as would have been the case if this method of negotiation had not been used.

The success of integrative negotiation is determined by certain factors which cannot be overlooked such as;

a)    Motivation and commitment; this is an essential factor that drives parties to get into a bilateral negotiation in order to work together.

b)    Friendly and sociable relationship existing between the parties that does not have any nuance of antagonism or egoism between the parties in a negotiation process. 

c)    In any bilateral trade agreement, to succeed, you must believe in your counterpart, while respecting his/her abilities in the negotiation process.

d)    One of the negotiation techniques to use in an integrative negotiation is that the parties should learn to be flexible in order to be able to put up with their various interests and desires while holding on strongly on one’s own view.

e)    In an integrative negotiation process, effective, clear and frank communication must be established between the parties. This will make sure that all the information relevant for the negotiation to take place reaches everyone and there should be no doubts concerning any issue under the bilateral trade agreement.

f)      Integrative negotiation is best used when there are no negative feelings nor presumptions between the parties involved in the negotiation process. So the negotiators should come up with a positive approach to use in order to succeed in what they do.

The advantages of integrative negotiation

-          Integrative negotiation is good because it gives room for fairness between the negotiating parties, i.e everyone has a fair share at the end of the negotiation process.

-          Integrative negotiation as one of the negotiation tactics in international relations is advantageous in that it strengthens interpersonal relations and bonds between the negotiating parties rather than instigating rivalry.

-          This bilateral negotiation skill is nice because it promotes collaboration thereby maintaining a peaceful course of negotiation rather than a conflicting one.

The Pros and cons of bilateral trade Agreements

Cons of bilateral negotiations:

  1. It is the easiest and simplest type of international negotiations that can take place due to the presence of just two parties in the negotiation process.
  2. Bilateral trade agreement is advantageous in that the parties can easily come to a consensus to withdraw from it.
  3. Bilateral trade agreement is good as it helps to reduce trade barriers and regulations, thereby providing room for bilateral trade agreements to flourish and as such free trade.

Cons of bilateral negotiations:

  1.  Multiple bilateral trade agreements from previous reviews state that bilateral negotiation can instead be costly and complicated to take advantage of market opening opportunities.
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