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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

A Negotiation Is Like a Game, You Can’t Get the Best Deal Without a Strategy

A Negotiation Is Like a Game, You Can’t Get the Best Deal Without a Strategy

Have you ever been in a position where you had to negotiate something?

Perhaps you tried to get a better deal on something, perhaps tried to make two arguing friends see sense. In a negotiation situation it can be difficult to know what to do or say.

A negotiation is like a game, if you go in without having a playing strategy, or not knowing the rules, you’ll find succeeding far more difficult.

The trick is, to start off knowing what you’re going to do and what strategy to use.

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In negotiation, there are two useful strategies: Integrative Bargaining and Distributive Bargaining. Either of these should be great tools in your negotiation arsenal and are well worth getting to grips with.

Video Summary

Integrative bargaining: to find a resolution that benefits both parties equally

Integrative Bargaining is otherwise known as “win win bargaining” in it both parties in the negotiation try to find a resolution which benefits them both equally.[1] The needs, desires, and fears (which in many ways can cause the disagreement in the first case) are taken into account.

It is possible that both parties want different things and as such, both could be achievable.

For example, imagine two people were arguing over who gets to eat a slice of pizza.

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Now the obvious resolution to this is just cut the slice of pizza in half. However if the parties discussed what they wanted exactly, they could discover that one party liked to eat the pizza crust and was less interested in the rest of it, whereas the other wanted to eat the topping, but ignore the crust. In this way, through integrative bargaining, both parties could get exactly what they wanted.

Distributive bargaining: to negotiate how much each party gets

Distributive Bargaining is, as you might expect, a negotiation strategy employed when you have to distribute and divide something.[2]

  • Where integrative bargaining was a “win win” strategy, distributive bargaining is “win lose”.
  • Where integrative bargaining worked from collaboration, distributive bargaining is relatively self serving and competitive.
  • Both parties negotiate how much of something they gait.

Using the above pizza example, where integrative explores what each person hopes to gain from the the negotiation, distributive bargaining explores who gets what.

As such integrative bargaining can be the more diplomatic and fairer system of negotiation. However distributive bargaining can be effective (for you) if employed successfully.

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Employ these strategies in real life by asking yourself 3 questions

Key to using integrative bargaining, is knowing the answers to these three questions:[3]

What is my best alternative agreement? – This if the negotiations don’t seem to be going your way, what is something else you would agree with/ settle for.

What is most important to me? – Here, you should determine, in ranked order, exactly what you most want to keep in your negotiations, and what can be dropped. Dropping parts of your deal makes you more flexible and allows the a more satisfactory and mutually beneficial agreement to be found.

What is most important to the other party, and what might they settle with? – This can only be determined through careful questioning and careful analysis, but is well worth your time to find out. If you have a good idea of what the other party may settle for, then have a good direction to steer the negotiations.

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Knowledge and understanding of these three, crucial questions, can not only make your negotiations effective, but reach the best possible solution for both parties.

Know your bet: how much you are willing to lose in the negotiation

Distributive bargaining also relies on a degree of knowledge, you should know how much you are willing and happy to lose in negotiation, and keep that information quiet.[4] As distributive bargaining is naturally more self serving any information and strategy you have should be kept to yourself. You should also try to ascertain what the other party is willing to part with, and try to make that so.

Personally, I prefer integrative bargaining as a strategy. However if you enter a negotiation without any strategy, integrative, distributive or otherwise, then you will almost certainly lose out more severely than if you would with either strategy.

Reference

[1] Beyond Intractability: Integrative or Interest-Based Bargaining
[2] Conflict Research Consortium: Distributive Bargaining
[3] Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation: Use Integrative Negotiation Strategies to Create Value at the Bargaining Table
[4] Beyond Intractability: Distributive Bargaining

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Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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