The importance of negotiation

The importance of negotiation is undeniable. No matter what everyday situation, you are negotiating, even though you might not realise it.

Even more so as an Erasmus student, take renting a room for example, or buying something by bargaining for it. But it's not just this, convincing someone is negotiating, getting something you wanted through a process of communication is negotiating, you are always negotiating, each and every day.

As this is the case, I'm going to try and give you a round up of what a good Erasmus student should know about negotiating.

The importance of negotiation

Negotiation is a process of communication or interaction in which two or more parties try and resolve a conflict of interest, using dialogue and discussion, moving away from any violent resolution and towards an agreement through granting concessions. The art of negotiation is still being learnt. Negotiating is something you can do without knowing how to to do it, but if you do know how, you have the advantage of knowing some of the tricks of the trade.

Elements of negotiation

  • Interdependent relationship between the parties: to reach your goals you'll need the other party to agree, if that's not the case then you don't need to negotiate. They can agree for one thing or many things during the negotiation. In this case, you should try and reach an agreement that satisfies both parties.
  • Contradictory relationship: without goals or concessions, a negotiation cannot exist. All parties must be as willing to give as they are to gain. In this case, you have to give a little to get a little, maybe a lot.
  • The importance of who has more power: whoever has more power has the better chance of getting what they want.
  • Dependence on social perception: the conflict can be influence by one's own perceptions, given that each party has different expectations and different ideas. The conflict, by nature, is vital, and as you are negotiating against an opinion too, even the most calculated negotiator may not know how the other party will act/react. You should only get involved in logical, and legal, negotiations so that any concessions or deals made are licit. Don't lie guys.

Common occurrences in every negotiation

  • Conflict of interests between parties: what you want to happen.
  • Personal gains made: what you've achieved.

In relation to these occurrences in a negotiation, there are four alternatives:

  1. Firstly, when you want to get everything possible, when the gain is high and interests are conflicting. All parties fight tooth and nail to get the best outcome. For example, getting the Erasmus grants that we all know the local government doesn't want to give us (dick heads).
  2. On the other hand, you could be negotiating when the rewards are great and the goals are similar, which in most cases produces some sort of coalition. The contract drawn up when leasing or renting a property is a good example. You should look for someone desperate to rent if you want to haggle them down.
  3. Another alternative is a negotiation of low potential gain yet conflicting interests. Bartering in a street market in Istanbul for example, in general the person selling isn't that bothered about selling and you're not too fussed about buying either.
  4. Finally there's the time when rather than stopping negotiations, someone adapts to what one of them may have suggested. There's no real conflicting interests, or substantial gain. You could use the same example as before but you've just got a shit ton of money and can afford to waste it on a load of crap.

Thoughts about negotiation

The art of negotiation is something that's been studied, even on a psychological level. In a lot of cases, the course of the negotiation is relative to the attitudes the participating parties have. There are two very different approaches:

  1. Destructive negotiation: this is trying to get the best possible outcome whatever the cost. Basically, maximising gain without caring about how it will affect the other party, especially as you see them as trying to do exactly the same to you.
  2. Constructive negotiation: you may have differing interests, or even opposing ones, yet the more important thing is to draw on those that are common, which in turn should be treated differently. The common interest should be maximised, whilst the opposing ones swept under the mat, their importance diminished. In your case, the differing interest should be dealt with in a constructive manner.

So, Erasmus students, you've got to learn how to negotiate, and negotiate for everything. You'll get amazing results with little resources.

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