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Consciously Incompetent Model in Negotiation

Key take-aways

  • The consciously incompetent model in negotiation involves being aware of one’s incompetence in negotiation skills, which can be a strategic choice to gather information from the other party.
  • There are four stages of the skills development model in negotiation
  • To master negotiations, individuals should progress through these stages, seek mentorship, study negotiation books, and consider online courses like the Negotiation Course For Procurement Professionals.

Have you heard about the consciously incompetent model in negotiation? From the very sound of the word, it feels like something that every negotiator should know. However, this particular negotiation model is a bit confusing, which is why we at Procurement Tactics felt like the topic deserves an article. 

From here, we can discuss more the consciously incompetent model in negotiation and understand its importance. In the end, we’ll be able to apply what we’ve learned in our future negotiations.

Consciously Incompetent Model in Negotiation– Definitions and Terms

By definition, the consciously incompetent model in negotiation is one that is entirely aware of the impact of actions involved by the negotiator, thus sub-optimized deals are often attracted towards the negotiators.

So if we were to understand it in a simple manner, it is a manner or style of negotiation in where the negotiator is conscious that he/she is incompetent. The negotiator in question is often in denial of the relevance or usefulness of developing any kind of negotiation skill. This is a very bad thing since negotiation is always about developing your ability to negotiate.   

Being the case, we should definitely make this particular negotiator be aware of his/her incompetence. However, if that is what you are thinking, you are probably missing the whole point. 

Sometimes, it is necessary to become a consciously incompetent negotiator in order to gain information from the other party. Again, the negotiator himself/herself is already aware of his/her incompetence. Whether or not they are doing it on purpose, this particular model in negotiation is standard in getting information out from the party because gathering information happens to be an important part of getting into your negotiation counterpart’s mind.

But with most beginners in the field of negotiation, this is just but one step from being an unconscious incompetent negotiator towards a consciously competent one.

The 4 Stagesof Skills Development Model

In becoming a skilled negotiator, there are four stages of the skills development model that you need to learn. These stages are, of course, included in our Negotiation Course For Procurement Professionals If you want to learn more about these skills development models and you have the determination to become a better negotiator, then feel free to check out our course after reading this article.

In any case, here are the 4 Stages of Skills Development Model:

Stage 1: Unconsciously Incompetent

This is the part where new negotiators are often placed. The part where you have no idea what you’re doing. This is perfectly normal, so there’s no need to panic. People in this stage are pretty bad at what they are trying to do. But they are completely unaware of how bad they are. This is the part where senior negotiators are often behind the younger ones so they can teach them the basics. People in this stage of learning can’t recognize problems as they occur, and so don’t know to ask for that help.

Stage 2: Consciously Incompetent

This is the part where we talked about earlier. The negotiator knows that he/she is not competent enough during the whole negotiation phase, but he/she is aware of it. At this stage, the negotiator may already understand the whole gist of the negotiations, but still do not have the necessary skills to rise up to the occasion. This is the part where new negotiators often ask for assistance or opinion from their senior negotiators.

Stage 3: Consciously Competent

At this stage, you, the negotiator, now have a clear view of what your capabilities are as a negotiator. You have learned and practiced everything you can about negotiating and about the deal that you need to follow through. You can now perform a degree of quality, acceptance, and independence. But you are not yet manifesting the skills of a professional negotiator. At least not yet.

Stage 4: Unconsciously Competent

Once you’ve reached Stage 4, you are now considered a professional negotiator. You have internalized all the necessary knowledge needed to perform negotiations with ease. You have perfected your practical skills to the point where you don’t need to concentrate or focus much when understanding the finer points of negotiation. You are perfectly capable of handling negotiations like it is as natural as sleeping or eating for you.

The Road to Mastering Negotiations

All four stages of the Skill Development Model are important because this is where you’re going to base your performance and level every time you get into negotiations. From start to finish, you can check how you did and then adjust your performance from time to time.

Also, remember to study and improve on how to become a good negotiator. You can buy good negotiation books and learn from them. You can also use them as manuals in case you need a good reference on how you did during negotiations.

Remember to ask for help from a senior negotiator. If you’re lucky enough to know a negotiator who is at Stage 4 of the Skill Development Model, then ask for his/her help. Don’t forget, you can also study online courses for mastering negotiations. 

And before you forget, our Negotiation Course For Procurement Professionals is also taught by some of the best negotiators in the procurement field of today. We are accepting a limited number of applicants though because of the sheer volume of applicants who want to enroll. You might want to grab the opportunity to enroll today!

Frequentlyasked questions

What is the consciously incompetent model in negotiation?

It’s a state where a negotiator is aware of their incompetence in negotiation skills.

Why might a negotiator choose to be consciously incompetent?

To gather information from the other party or seek assistance from senior negotiators.

What are the four stages in the skills development model for negotiators?

They are Unconsciously Incompetent, Consciously Incompetent, Consciously Competent, and Unconsciously Competent.

About the author

My name is Marijn Overvest, I’m the founder of Procurement Tactics. I have a deep passion for procurement, and I’ve upskilled over 200 procurement teams from all over the world. When I’m not working, I love running and cycling.

Marijn Overvest Procurement Tactics