Principled Negotiation – The Ultimate Guide For 2021

Principled negotiations may sound like it’s an extremely brand new style of negotiation, but the truth is told, it’s always existed together with other negotiation tactics right from the start. Probably the only reason why it doesn’t sound too popular is that it doesn’t rely too much on confidence or understanding.

For this article, we are going to talk about the principled negotiation style. We will learn more about it, get some examples and tactics covered, and we will discuss how to use it more during negotiations. By the end of this article, you’ll be a master of the principled negotiation style in no time.

What is Principled Negotiation?

Principled Negotiation is considered as the in-between of negotiation styles. It doesn’t have the tough-guy approach nor does it use the accommodation style of negotiation, but it does use the power of merits wherein it is designed to “produce wise outcomes amicably and efficiently”.

Wait, so when using principled negotiation, you don’t use hardball or accommodation techniques? How does that work? And how are you going to get what you want if you don’t rely on toughness or kindness? The answer to these questions relies on the four principles of principled negotiation.

Editor's note:

The Negotiation Game Changer Certificate Program teaches you:

  • the skills needed to drive better, fact-based decisions that ultimately benefit both organizations and its employees.
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The Four Principles of Principled Negotiation

1. Separate the people from the problem

During negotiations, there will always be times when emotions will flare-up. And that’s a common fact. During a principled negotiation, the negotiator will always work towards separating emotions and personality issues from the actual problem itself. 

An example of this is when two department leaders are locked in a heated battle over resources, they or their leaders must work to confront the strong emotions underneath the dispute through active listening. Remember that the goal of principled negotiation is not to win, but to reach a better understanding of each party’s concerns.

More detail is focused on this particular principle in our Negotiation Gamechanger course.

2. Focus on interests, not positions

Negotiators are often wasting time arguing over who should get their way. Or they are trying too hard to find a compromise between two firm positions that are at stake. In principled negotiations, negotiators look beyond such positions to try to identify underlying interests. And these interests often involve their basic needs, wants, and motivations. This interest-based bargaining can help find solutions that can meet the needs of both parties.

Are you wondering how you can focus on interests? Here are some pointers on how to do that:

  • Ask why the party holds the positions she or he does, and consider why the party does not hold some other possible position.
  • Explain your interests clearly.
  • Discuss these interests together looking forward to the desired solution, rather 
  • then focusing on past events.
  • Focus clearly on your interests, but remain open to different proposals and 
  • Positions

3. Invent options for mutual gain 

Most negotiators often settle with the first agreement coming from both parties. It sounds like a compromising negotiation style, but there’s a little modification in the middle.  This is to help save time and effort. But with principled negotiations, negotiators often go overtime in order to brainstorm several possible options before choosing which option is the best. The best option is often the one where the interests of both parties are in an agreement.

In order to invent your options, just think about the following:

  • Brainstorm for all possible solutions to the problem.
  • Evaluate the ideas only after a variety of proposals have been made
  • Start evaluations with the most promising proposals, refining and improving 
  • proposals at this point.
  • Focus on shared interests, and when the parties’ interests differ, seek options 
  • whereby those differences can be made compatible or even complementary.
  • Make proposals that are appealing to the other side and with which the other side 
  • would ultimately find ease in agreement.
  • Identify the decision-makers and target proposals directly toward them

4. Insist on using objective criteria 

During negotiations, it is common to always see and hear arguments on the floor of the negotiations. Arguments shoot back and forth as both parties try to get the best possible outcome. During principled negotiations, however, negotiators rely on a fair, independent standard to settle their differences. This standard often comes in the form of market value, a law, an industry protocol, or even an expert opinion. And once the standard is decided, both parties must agree to follow the standard.

BATNA – The Key to Principled Negotiation

When using principled negotiations, don’t forget about your BATNA. Again, for those who kind of forgot what BATNA is, it means Best Alternative to No Alternative. Since principled negotiations are all about choosing the best possible outcome for both parties, it is almost certain that having a BATNA behind your negotiation tactic is a good strategy. Besides, the parties that are involved in the negotiations must remember that their objective is to not reach an agreement but to agree on something that is possibly better than the BATNA.

Also, keep in mind that the stronger your BATNA, then the more you can ask for during the negotiations. Should there be no change during the discussions and the other side is still arguing after thoroughly exploring your interests and options, then there is certainly no shame in walking away from the negotiations. In fact, it is the right thing to do.

FAQs

What is principled negotiation?

Principled negotiation is when two sides of the negotiating table decide on the best possible outcome based on standards.

How to do principled negotiation?

In order to do principled negotiation, a specific standard must first be decided among the two parties. The standard is based depending on the needs, wants, and motivations of both parties.

What is an example of a principled negotiation?

An example of principled negotiation is when two department heads who are arguing with each other come to terms with a single decision in order to reach an amicable and agreeable solution. 

Become the Master Negotiator that you were meant to be!

To master principled negotiations or any other negotiations style, you need to first work on your actual negotiation skills! Enroll now in our Negotiation Gamechanger course! We will teach you everything that you need to know about negotiations, but hurry up! Our enrollment list is just about to close!

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