The Negotiator Magazine

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Influencing for Results

Radu Ionescu

Negotiation can be considered a tool that helps parties to reach an agreement based on their interests, but ultimately, what we do when we negotiate is to try to influence others to accept our way. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we don’t. Negotiation literature is full of tactics and strategies that describe ways of accomplishing this goal.

There are two types of influences: Positive and Negative.

If we want to change our car we might consider selling the old one. We prospect the market and find that a normal price for the old one could be $ 9.000. If we advertise it at a price of $ 10.000, this is a positive way of influencing others. If we decide to advertise at $ 13.500, this can be considered a negative way of influencing behavior.

Negotiation is measured by two criteria: Results and effects on relationships. A successful negotiation occurs when we meet our objectives in terms of results and keep the relationship, at least, within cooperative limits.

There are long debates about ethics and morals in negotiation. What we should do and what we are not allowed to do. Many authors try to find criteria for orientation. At the end of the day, the difference between using positive or negative influence is the status of the relationship. Whatever the result (of course at least we must reach our objectives), if we end up with a good relationship it means that we used positive influence.

When we behave as other people expect us to behave or when they accept the appropriateness of our actions or motives, we are using positive influencing techniques. We know we are using influence in a positive manner when we prepare well for a negotiation. If we have a lot of offers, if through our actions we gain trust, if we make the right alliances, if we create an environment that others enjoy, if we demonstrate competence, if we have communication skills and through many other methods, we are using positive influences.

On the other hand, if we lie even when other expects us to lie, if we deceive, if we try to dominate, if we do not listen, if our main preoccupation is arguing, if we disregard other’s party needs, we obtain a negative reaction. Using negative influencing tactics can bring us the desired results, but we have to be aware of the consequences. A bad relationship is certain and our name and reputation goes with it.

One can argue that being a good negotiator and using only positive influencing techniques can still result in a negative reaction because of skill differences between the parities. The others may envy the skillful one or assume that facing such a good negotiator, they will surely loose. Civilized society is based on equal opportunities, not on equal possibilities. A real good negotiator can almost always demonstrate to others that they have achieved the best result for a certain deal.

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