Managing Conflicts of Interest
Johnson, David W., 1940-
Joining together : group theory and group skills / David W. Johnson, Frank
P. Johnson.— 10th ed.
9 Managing Conflicts of Interest 366
Basic Concepts to Be Covered in This Chapter 367
Conflict-Positive Groups 367
Nature of Conflicts of Interest 368
Conflicts Can Be Destructive or Constructive 369
Conflict and Aggression 370
Conflict Management Strategies: What Are You Like? 373
Controlling the Occurrence of Conflicts 377
The Nature of Negotiations 378
Two Types of Negotiating 385
The Integrative Negotiating Procedure 390
Defining the Conflict as a Mutual Problem 393
Try, Try Again 407
Negotiating in Good Faith 410
Refusal Skills: This Issue Is Non-Negotiable 411
Intergroup Conflict 419
Third-Party Mediation 435
Basic Concepts to Be Covered in This Chapter
In this chapter a number of concepts are defined and discussed. The major ones are in the following list. Divide into heterogeneous pairs. Each pair is to (1) define each concept, noting the page on which it is defined and discussed, and (2) ensure that both members of the pair understand the meaning of each concept. Then combine into groups of four. Compare the answers of the two pairs. If there is disagreement, look up the concept in the chapter and clarify it until all members agree on and understand the definition.
1. Conflict-positive group
2. Conflicts of interest
8. Distributive, win—lose negotiations
9. Integrative, problem-solving negotiations
10. Dilemma of trust
11. Dilemma of openness and honesty
12. Norm of reciprocity
13. Goal dilemma
14. Steps of integrative negotiating
15. Psychological reactance
16. Attribution theory
17. Fundamental attribution error
18. Self-fulfilling prophecy
19. Super ordinate goal
CONFLICT- POSITIVE GROUP
If groups are to be effective, they must resolve the conflicts of interests among members constructively. Groups can be either conflict negative or conflict positive (Tjosvold, 1991b; Table 9.1). In a conflict-negative group, conflicts are suppressed and avoided and, when they occur, are managed in destructive ways. In a conflict-positive group, conflicts are encouraged and managed constructively to maximize their potential in enhancing the quality of decision making and problem solving and group life in general. Group members create, encourage, and support the possibility of conflict.
Table 9.1 Conflict-Negative and Conflict-Positive Groups
Conflict-Negative Group Conflict-Positive Group
Sees conflict as unitary
Sees conflict as the problem
Avoids, suppresses, contains conflicts
Believes conflict is inherently destructive
Sees no value to conflict
Conflicts create anxiety and defensiveness
Individuals go for a "win"
Recognizes different types of conflicts
Sees conflict as part of the solution
Seeks out and encourages conflicts
Believes conflict is potentially constructive
Sees many values to conflict
Conflicts create excitement, interest, focus
Individuals try to "solve the problem"
In order to create a conflict-positive group, you must understand
1. The nature of conflicts of interest
2. The five strategies most commonly used to manage conflicts of interest
3. The nature of distributive and integrative negotiations
4. The steps for using integrative negotiations
5. The nature of intergroup conflict
6. How to apply constructive procedures to intergroup conflict
NATURE OF CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
According to the World Book Dictionary, a conflict is a fight, struggle, battle, disagreement, dispute, or quarrel. A conflict can be as small as a disagreement or as large as a war. The word conflict is derived from the Latin con flatus, meaning a "striking together with force." There are times when group members' wants and goals "strike together" and produce disruptive effects. To understand what a conflict of interest is, however, it is first necessary to define interest.
We are all unique individuals with separate wants, needs, and goals. Therefore, within joint efforts, conflicts of interest inevitably result. To understand conflicts of interest, you must first understand what wants, needs, goals, and interests are (Johnson & Johnson, 2005; Table 9.2). There are many things each of us wants. A want is a desire for something. Each person basically has a unique set of wants. A need is a necessity for survival. Needs are more universal. Every person needs to survive and reproduce (have access to water, food, shelter, and sex), belong (experience loving, sharing, and cooperating), have power, have freedom, and have fun (Glaser, 1984). On the basis of our wants and needs, we set goals. A goal is an ideal state of affairs that we value and are working to achieve. Our goals are related through social interdependence. When we have mutual goals we are in a cooperative relationship; when our goals are opposed we are in a competitive relationship. Our interests are the potential benefits to be gained by achieving our goals.
A conflict of interest exists when the actions of one person attempting to maximize his or her benefits prevent, block, interfere with, injure, or in some way make less effective the actions of another person attempting to maximize his or her benefits (Deutsch, 1973). Conflict among interests can be based on (1) differences in wants, needs, goals, and values, (2) scarcities of certain resources, such as power, influence, money, time, space, popularity, and position, or (3) rivalry. Conflicts of interest both occur naturally and are deliberately created, and so are common. The management of conflicts of interest is an important aspect of group effectiveness (Figure 9.1).
CONFLICTS CAN BE DESTRUCTIVE OR CONSTRUCTIVE
Inherent in any conflict is the potential for destructive or constructive outcomes (Deutsch, 1973; Johnson, 1970; Johnson & Johnson, 1995, 2005). On the destructive side, conflicts can create anger, hostility, lasting animosity, and even violence. Conflicts can result in pain and sadness. Conflicts can end in lawsuits, divorce, and war. Destructively managed conflicts are highly costly to a group, destroying the group's effectiveness, ripping apart relationships, sabotaging work, delaying and decreasing teaching and learning efforts, and devastating individuals' commitment to the group's goals, sense of security, and personal feelings (Jan & Tjosvold, 1985). Poorly managed conflicts result in group members spending time brooding and fighting rather than working to achieve the group's goals.
Conflicts, however, carry the potential for many important positive outcomes. Conflicts can focus attention on problems that need to be solved, and can energize and motivate group members to solve them. Conflicts can clarify how members of the group need to change. Patterns of behavior that are dysfunctional are highlighted and clarified by conflicts. Conflicts can clarify what and whom group members care about and are committed to. Conflicts clarify group members' identity and values. Conflicts help group members understand the values and identities of group mates. Conflicts keep the relationships among members clear of irritations and resentments and strengthen members' confidence that they can resolve conflicts constructively. Conflicts can release anger, anxiety, insecurity, and sadness that, if kept inside, make a person mentally and physically ill. Conflicts can be fun. Life would be boring if there were no conflict.
It is not the presence of conflicts but the way in which they are managed that determines whether they are destructive or constructive. Conflicts are constructive to the extent that they
1. Result in an agreement that allows all participants to achieve their goals. The agreement maximizes joint outcomes, benefits everyone, and is in all participants' best interests.
2. Strengthen the relationship among participants by increasing their liking, respect, and trust for one another.
3. Increase participants' ability to resolve future conflicts with one another constructively.
CONFLICT AND AGGRESSION
There is a considerable literature that links destructively managed conflicts with interpersonal aggression. Aggression is physical (e.g., striking, kicking, shoving) or verbal
(e.g., insulting, cursing, threatening) behavior intended to injure another (Baron & Richardson, 1994; Bushman & Anderson, 2001). Three important aspects of this definition are that aggression is behavior (as opposed to thoughts), it is intended or purposeful (as opposed to accidental), and it is aimed at hurting another person. Aggression may be distinguished from assertiveness, which is behavior intended to express confidence or dominance. Aggression with malicious intent is also distinguished from playful aggression (which is characterized by frequent smiling and laughter).
A further distinction is made between indirect and direct aggression. Indirect aggression involves an attempt to hurt another person without obvious face-to-face conflict, such as through malicious gossip. Direct aggression is behavior aimed at hurting another person to his or her face. Emotional aggression, hurtful behavior that stems from out-of-control anger, may be distinguished from instrumental aggression, hurting another person to accomplish a goal (Berkowitz, 1993). Finally, displaced aggression refers to instances in which people behave aggressively toward a person who is not the causal agent of the instigating provocation (Dollard, Doob, Miller, Mowrer, & Sears, 1939; Marcus-Newhall, Pedersen, Carlson, & Miller, 2000). A meta-analysis of the research indicates that the magnitude of displaced aggression is strongly moderated by the similarity between the provocateur and the target of the displaced aggression (MarcusNewhall, Pedersen, Carlson, & Miller, 2000).
Aggression tends to be related to a variety of factors, including depersonalization (e.g., Zimbardo, 1970), the existence of primes for aggression (e.g., Anderson, Benjamin, & Bartholomew, 1998 ; Berkowitz & LePage, 1967), temperature and other environmental triggers (e.g., Anderson, Anderson, Dor•, DeNeve, & Flanagan, 2000), the utilitarian need to achieve desired goals (Berkowitz, 1993), and provocations (Bettencourt & Miller, 1996). Having a weapon in sight, for example, intensifies aggression, especially against members of outgroups (Carlson, Marcus-Newhall, & Miller, 1990). In conflict situations, aggression usually provokes counteraggression, as well as feelings such as fear, anger, and a desire for revenge. It is therefore typically a sign of destructive conflict management.
The link between frustration and aggression is one of the oldest social psychological explanations of hostility and physical violence (Dollard, Doob, Miller, Mowrer, & Sears, 1939). The frustration - aggression process can be summarized in the following way (Berkowitz, 1978). Individuals who are unable to attain the goals they desire because of personal limitations or external influences sometimes experience frustration.
This frustration produces a readiness to respond in an aggressive manner, which may boil over into hostility and violence if situational cues that serve as "releasers" are present. Negotiators can become frustrated and, at any sign of belligerence or hostility by others, release verbal and, in some cases, physical violence.
An interesting aspect of intergroup aggression is those groups members often aggress against outgroup members who have never done them any harm. Lickel, Schmader, and Miller (2003) define such vicarious aggression as a member of a group committing an act of aggression toward outgroup members for a provocation that had no personal consequences for him or her but which did harm a fellow ingroup member. Mob violence is an example of vicarious aggression, as most if not all members of a mob have not been harmed by the actions of the victims.
Your Conflict Management Strategies
Different people learn different ways of managing conflicts. The strategies you use to manage conflicts may be quite different from those used by your friends and acquaintances. This exercise gives you an opportunity to increase your awareness of what conflict strategies you use and how they compare with the strategies used by others. The procedure is as follows:
1. Form groups of six. Make sure you know the other group members. Do not join a group of strangers.
2. Working by yourself, complete the following questionnaire.
3.Working by yourself, read the accompanying discussion of conflict strategies. Then make five slips of paper. Write the names of the other five members of your group on the slips of paper, one name to a slip.
4. On each slip of paper write the conflict strategy that best fits the actions of the person named.
5. After all group members are finished; pass out your slips of paper to the persons whose names are on them. In turn, you should end up with five slips of paper, each containing a description of your conflict style as seen by another group member. Likewise, each member of your group should end up with five slips of paper describing his or her conflict strategy.
6. Score your questionnaire, using the table that follows the discussion of conflict strategies. Rank the five conflict strategies from the one you use the most to the one you use the least. This will give you an indication of how you see your own conflict strategy. The second most frequently used strategy is your backup strategy, the one you use if your first one fails.
7. After drawing names to see who goes first, one member describes the results of his or her questionnaire. This is the member's view of his or her own conflict strategies. The member then reads each of the five slips of paper on which are written the views of the group members about his or her conflict strategy. Next the member asks the group members to give specific examples of how they have seen him or her act in conflicts. The group members should use the rules for constructive feedback. The person to the left of the first member repeats this procedure, and so on around the group.
8. Each group discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each of the conflict strategies.
CONFLICT MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES: WHAT ARE YOU LIKE?
Dealing with conflicts of interest is like going swimming in a cold lake. Some people like to test the water, stick a foot in, and enter slowly so that they can get used to the cold gradually. Other people like to take a running start and leap in so that they can get the cold shock over quickly. Similarly, different people use different strategies for managing conflicts. Usually, we learn these strategies in childhood, so that later they seem to function automatically on a preconscious level—we just do whatever seems to come naturally. But we do have a personal strategy, and because it was learned, we can change it by learning new and more effective ways of managing conflicts.
When we become engaged in a conflict, we have to take two major concerns into account (Johnson & Johnson, 2005):
1. Reaching an agreement that satisfies our wants and meets our goals. We are in conflict because we have a goal or interest those conflicts with another person's goal or interests. Our goal may be placed on a continuum ranging from unimportant to highly important.
2. Maintaining an appropriate relationship with the other person. Some relationships are temporary
; Some are permanent. Our relationship with the other person may be placed on a continuum between being of little importance to being highly important.
The dual-concern model of conflict resolution has its origins in Blake and Mouton's (1964) managerial grid and has been articulated by several theorists (Cosi& & Ruble, 1981; Filley, 1975; Johnson, 1978; Pruitt & Rubin, 1986; Rahim, 1983; Thomas, 1976).
Other labels are sometimes given to the two concerns, such as concern for self and concern for other. In conflicts of interest, how you behave depends on how important your goals are to you and how important you perceive the relationship to be. Given these two concerns, five basic strategies are used to manage conflicts (Figure 9.2):
1. The owl (problem-solving negotiations): Owls highly value the goal and the relationship. When both the goal and the relationship are highly important to you, you initiate problem-solving negotiations to resolve the conflict. Solutions are sought that ensure that both you and the other group member fully achieve your goals and resolve any tensions and negative feelings between the two of you.
This strategy requires risky moves, such as revealing your underlying interests while expecting the other to do the same.
2. The teddy bear (smoothing): To teddy bears the relationship is of great importance, whereas the goal is of little importance. When the goal is of little importance to you but the relationship is of high importance, you give up your goal in order to maintain the relationship at the highest quality possible.
When you think the other person's interests are much stronger or important than yours, you smooth and assist the other person in achieving his or her goal.
3. The shark (forcing or win–lose negotiations): Sharks see the relationship as of no importance and try to overpower opponents by forcing them to give in so the shark can achieve his or her goal. When the goal is very important but the relationship is not, you seek to achieve your goal by forcing or persuading the other to yield. Tactics used to win include making threats, physical and verbal aggression, imposing penalties that will be withdrawn if the other concedes, and taking preemptive actions designed to resolve the conflict without the other's consent (such as taking a book home that the other insists is his). Tactics to persuade the other to yield include presenting persuasive arguments, imposing a deadline, committing oneself to an "unalterable" position, or making demands that far exceed what is actually acceptable.
4. The fox (compromising):
Foxes are moderately concerned with the goal and the relationship with the other member. When both the goal and the relationship are moderately important to you, and it appears that both you and the other person cannot get what you want, you may need to give up part of your goals and sacrifice part of the relationship in order to reach an agreement. Compromising may be meeting in the middle so each gets half, or flipping a coin to let chance decide who will get his or her way. Compromising is often used when disputants wish to engage in problem-solving negotiations but do not have the time to do so.
5. The turtle (withdrawing):
-Riffles withdraw into their shells to avoid conflicts, valuing neither the relationship nor the goal. When the goal is not important and you do not need to keep a relationship with the other person, you may wish to give up both your goal and the relationship and avoid the issue and the other person. Avoiding a hostile stranger, for example, may be the best thing to do. Sometimes you may wish to withdraw from a conflict until you and the other person have calmed down and are in control of your feelings.
In using these strategies, there are five important points to consider. First, to be competent in managing conflicts, you must be able to engage competently in each strategy. You need to practice all five strategies until they are thoroughly mastered. You do not want to be an overspecialized dinosaur that can deal with conflict in only one way.
Each strategy is appropriate under a certain set of conditions and, based on the dual concerns of one's goals and the relationship with the other person; you choose the conflict strategy appropriate to the situation.
Second, some of the strategies require the participation of the other disputant and some may be enacted alone. You can give up your goals by using withdrawing and smoothing no matter what the other disputant does. When you try to achieve your goals by using forcing, compromising, and problem solving, the other disputant has to participate in the process.
Third, the strategies tend to be incompatible in the sense that using one of them makes using the others less possible. For example, although withdrawing is sometimes used in combination—say, temporarily withdrawing before initiating problem-solving negotiations—withdrawing implies lack of commitment to one's goals. Negotiating, on the other hand, implies high commitment to one's goals. Forcing implies low commitment to the relationship, whereas smoothing implies high commitment to the relationship. Essentially, the five strategies are independent of one another, and when you engage in one, it is hard if not impossible to switch effectively to another strategy.
Fourth, certain strategies may deteriorate into other strategies. When you try to withdraw and the other disputant pursues you and does not allow you to withdraw, you may respond with forcing. When you try to initiate problem-solving negotiations and the other disputant responds with forcing, you may reciprocate by engaging in win-lose tactics.
When time is short, problem-solving negotiations may deteriorate into compromising.
Fifth, whether problem-solving or win-lose negotiations are initiated depends on your perception of the future of the relationship. When conflicts arise, the potential short-term gains must be weighed against potential long-term losses. When you perceive the relationship as being unimportant, you may go for the "win" by attempting to force the other person to capitulate or give in. The relationship may be perceived as unimportant because there will be only one or a few interactions, or perhaps because you are so angry at the other person that only the present matters. When you perceive the relationship as important, then you will try to solve the problem in a way that achieves the other person's goals as well as your own. The relationship is perceived to be important because it is ongoing and long-term, or because there are strong positive emotions (such as liking and respect) that bond you to the other person.
The shadow of the future looms largest when interactions among individuals are durable and frequent. Durability ensures that individuals will not easily forget how they have treated and been treated by others. Frequency promotes stability by making the consequences of today's actions more salient for tomorrow's dealings. When individuals realize they will work with one another frequently and for a long period of time, they see that the long-term benefits of cooperation outweigh the short-term benefits of taking advantage of the other person. In ongoing relationships, the future outweighs the present, so that the quality of the relationship is more important than the outcome of any particular negotiation.
Field studies have found problem solving to be strongly associated with constructive resolution of conflicts and high organizational performance, whereas forcing the other person to accept one's position is associated with ineffective conflict management (Burke, 1969, 1970; Lawrence & Lorsch, 1967). Experimental studies have found that high concern about one's own and others' outcomes produces high joint outcomes. High concern about one's own outcomes but low concern about others' outcomes tends to result in attempts to dominate and persuade. Finally, low concern about one's own outcomes but high concern about others’ outcomes results in low joint benefits (Ben-Yoav & Pruitt, 1984a, 1984b; Carnevale & Keenan, 1990; Pruitt & Syna, 1983).
— CONTROLLING THE OCCURRENCE OF CONFLICTS
Not everything that is faced can be changed but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
When a conflict of interest arises, usually the best course of action is to face the conflict and resolve it. You can control the occurrence of a conflict when you understand the circumstances that brought about the conflict and the entry state of the participants. The circumstances that surround the conflict include both the barriers to the beginning of negotiations and the events that trigger the conflict (Walton, 1987). Barriers that prevent the conflict from being expressed can be internal or external. Internal barriers include negative attitudes, values, fears, anxieties, and habitual patterns of avoiding conflict. External barriers may include task requirements, group norms for avoiding conflict, pressure to maintain a congenial public image, and perceptions of one's vulnerability and others' strength. Physical separation is a frequently used barrier to the expression of conflicts of interest. Placing members in different locations, avoiding being in the same room with certain other members, and removing a member from the group can all suppress a conflict of interest. A triggering event may be as simple as two group members being physically near one another or as complex as two members being in competition.
Negative remarks, sarcasm, and criticism on sensitive points are common triggering events, as is the feeling of being deprived, neglected, or ignored. Some events may trigger a destructive cycle of conflict and others may trigger problem solving; group members should try to maximize the occurrence of the latter type of triggering event.
From discovering the barriers to negotiation and what triggers open expression of the conflict, group members can choose the time and place to deal with the conflict. If an appropriate time is not immediately available, the conflict may be avoided by increasing the barriers to expressing the conflict and removing the triggering events. If the time seems appropriate, the conflict may be faced by strengthening the triggering events and decreasing the barriers.
The second factor in controlling the occurrence of a conflict is the entry state of the disputants. Entry state is the person's ability to deal constructively with the conflict.
Important aspects of a group member's entry state include the member's level of self-awareness, ability to control one's behavior, skills in communicating, and general interpersonal effectiveness (see Johnson, 2006). A group member may be too anxious, defensive, psychologically unstable, or unmotivated to resolve a conflict effectively. The entry state of a group member may be improved by support from and consultation with group mates.
Not every conflict of interest is resolvable. It is a mistake to assume that you can always openly resolve a conflict. There are times when conflicts are better avoided. Usually, however, through careful attention to the entry state of participants and the circumstances that trigger or prevent a conflict, a time optimal for constructive resolution can be chosen.
THE NATURE OF NEGOTIATIONS
Negotiation is woven into the daily fabric of our lives. Negotiating with skill and grace, however, is not easy. It must be learned. Negotiation is a process by which people with shared and opposed interests attempt to reach an agreement that specifies what each gives to and receives from one another (Johnson & Johnson, 2005). Negotiation may involve distributive issues, where one member benefits only if the other member agrees to make a concession, or integrative issues, where two people work together to seek a solution that will benefit both (Figure 9.3). You spend a great deal of time negotiating even when you do not think of yourself as doing so. You can tell you are negotiating by using the following checklist:
Is there another person involved, and are you dependent on one another for information (about what is a reasonable agreement) and an agreement (you get what you want only if the other person agrees, and vice versa)?
Are both cooperative elements (we both wish to reach an agreement) and competitive elements (we both wish the agreement to be as favorable to ourselves as possible) present in this situation?
Are both primary and secondary gains a concern?
Are there contractual norms on how negotiation should be conducted?
Is there a beginning, middle, and an end?
Do you wish to propose an agreement that is favorable to yourself but not so one-sided that it drives the other away from negotiations?
Each of the items in the checklist needs to be discussed. First, three types of interdependence are inherent in any negotiations: participation interdependence, outcome interdependence, and information interdependence. Participation interdependence exists because it takes at least two to negotiate, whether it is two individuals, two groups, two organizations, or two nations. Outcome interdependence exists because an agreement can be reached only if the other disputant agrees. To resolve a conflict, disputants must commit themselves to an agreement, and therefore, each is dependent on the other for the outcome. Information dependence exists because negotiators depend on one another for information about a possible agreement. Such information can be secured in one of two ways: negotiators can openly and honestly share their expectations, or they can induce what the other expects from his or her behavior during the negotiations. This is a complicated issue; because negotiators often do not know what their own expectations should be until they learn what the other negotiator's expectations are. To the point that negotiators know both what the other wants and what is the least the other will accept, they will be able to develop an effective negotiating position.
Information dependence sets up two dilemmas, the dilemma of trust and the dilemma of honesty and openness. The dilemma of trust involves a choice between believing and not believing the other negotiator. To believe the other negotiator is to risk potential exploitation. Disbelieving the other negotiator reduces the possibility of any agreement being reached. The dilemma of honesty and openness involves the risk of either being exploited for disclosing too much too quickly or seriously damaging the negotiating relationship by refusing to disclose information and thereby seeming deceitful or distrusting.
Second, in negotiations there are both cooperative and competitive elements. The mixed-motive situation is created by the desire to reach an agreement and the desire to make that agreement as favorable to one as possible. The two motives can seriously interfere with one another. The balance between the cooperative and competitive elements determines how negotiations are conducted.
Third, both primary and secondary gains must be attended to in negotiations. The primary gain is the main benefit each party gains from the agreement. The more favorable the agreement is to a member's interests, the greater his or her primary gain. The secondary gain is determined by the impact of the agreement on the negotiator's future well-being, the well-being of relevant third parties, and the factors influencing the effectiveness of the group, such as the member's relationships with group mates and important third parties' reactions to the agreement.
Fourth, during negotiations contractual norms are developed that spell out the ground rules for conducting the negotiations and managing the difficulties involved in reaching an agreement. Two common norms are the norm of reciprocity (a negotiator should return the same benefit or harm given him or her by the other negotiator) and the norm of equity (the benefits received or the costs assessed by the negotiators should be equal).
Fifth, negotiations have important time dimensions. There is a beginning, middle, and end. The strategies and tactics used to initiate negotiations, exchange proposals and information, and precipitate an agreement can be quite different and sometimes contradictory.
Sixth, in negotiations disputants face a goal dilemma: how to reach an agreement favorable to oneself but not so one-sided that the other negotiator refuses to agree. In resolving the goal dilemma, negotiators must decide on a reasonable proposal, one that will not only get the most for themselves but will also have a good chance of being acceptable to the other. Inasmuch as there is rarely any obviously correct agreement, each negotiator must decide during the negotiations what a reasonable outcome is for self and for the other negotiator.
‘TWO TYPES OF NEGOTIATING
When you use negotiations to resolve a conflict of interest, you have a choice. You can go for a win by acting like a shark and using forcing or distributive procedures, or you can go for solving the problem in a mutually beneficial way by acting like an owl and using integrative or problem-solving procedures (Table 9.3). Both are appropriate under certain circumstances.
Distributive Negotiations: Win—Lose Negotiations
People . . . are trying to either shun conflict or crush it. Neither strategy is working. Avoidance and force only raise the level of conflict. . . . They have become parts of the problem rather than the solution.
DeCecco and Richards (1974)
When the negotiation is with a person whose continued goodwill and cooperation are not necessary (such as a car salesperson), then you negotiate to win, which means the other person loses. In distributive negotiations the goal is to maximize your outcomes while minimizing the other person's outcomes. You try to reach an agreement more favorable to you than to the other person. You go for the win when your wants, needs, and goals are important and you have a temporary, ad hoc relationship with the other person. In some cultures, where bargaining is a way of life, this type of negotiating is both recreation and an art form.
Table 9.3 the Two Types of Negotiating Strategies
Distributive (Win—Lose) Integrative (Problem Solving)
Presenting an opening offer very favorable to oneself and refusing to modify that position.
Gathering information about what the other considers a reasonable agreement from the other's opening offer and proposals.
Continually pointing out the validity of one's own position and the incorrectness of the other person's.
Using a combination of threats and promises to convince the other person that he or she has to accept one's offer.
Committing oneself to a position in such a way that if an agreement is to be reached, the other person has to agree to one's terms.
Agreeing if one's benefits are greater than the other's or if no better outcome is available elsewhere.
Describing what you want.
Describing how you feel.
Describing the reasons underlying your wants and feelings.
Inventing at least three optional agreements that maximize joint outcomes.
Choosing one alternative and agreeing to it.
In distributive negotiations a sequence of behavior occurs in which one party presents a proposal, the other evaluates it and presents a counterproposal, the first party replies with a modified proposal, and so on until a settlement is reached (Chertkoff & Esser, 1976; Johnson, 1974 ; Johnson & Johnson, 2005 ; Rubin, Pruitt, & Kim, 1994 ; Walton & McKersie, 1965). The negotiators use this sequence of behaviors to obtain information that helps resolve the dilemma of goals. On the basis of the other party's opening offer, the proposals one receives, and the counterproposals one offers, a negotiator can obtain an idea as to what sort of settlement the other person might accept. A common win—lose negotiating pattern is for both negotiators to set a relatively high but tentative goal at first; they then change their positions on the basis of the other person's reactions and counterproposals.
This sequence of behaviors, which allows one negotiator to assess the second negotiator's points of potential settlement, also can be used to influence the second negotiator's assessment of the first's points. Through their opening offers and their counterproposals negotiators can influence the other's expectations of what they consider a reasonable agreement. Ideally, a win—lose negotiator would like to obtain the maximal information about the other's preferences while disclosing the minimal, or misleading, information about the negotiator's own preferences. Helpful hints for engaging in distributive negotiations, therefore, are
1. Identify triggering events and barriers to negotiations. Trigger the conflict at a moment when it is most advantageous to you and least advantageous to your opponent.
2. Make an extreme opening offer (if you are willing to pay $1,500, offer $500) to (a) establish a negotiating range skewed in your favor, (b) influence the other's expectations about one's anticipated minimal terms (do not let the other person know how much you are willing to pay), (c) change the other's beliefs about his or her minimum terms, and (d) create an impression of "toughness." Perceptions of toughness have considerable influence on determining how far a negotiator thinks he can push an opposing negotiator (that is, what terms the opponent will finally agree to).
3. Compromise slowly (try to get the other person to compromise first). A slow rate of compromise is aimed at creating an image of toughness and influencing the opponent's expectations as to (a) what a reasonable outcome is for him or her and (b) what one's expectations of a reasonable outcome are. As the opponent reconnoiters the negotiating range for possible points of agreement, he or she seeks information to reduce the uncertainty as to what the agreement might be. Every action a negotiator undertakes affects the opponent's conclusions about what to propose next.
4. Use threats, promises, sticking doggedly to a committed position, and arguments to (a) coerce and entice the opponent to accept one's proposal, (b) convince the other person what he or she wants is unreasonable and unattainable, and (c) change the other's evaluation of how many concessions are required to reach an agreement. A threat states that if the other negotiator performs an undesired act, you will harm him or her. A promise states that if the other negotiator performs a desired act, you will provide benefits. A preemptive action is designed to resolve the conflict without the other's consent (such as taking up residence on a disputed piece of land). A persuasive argument is pointing out the validity of your position and the incorrectness of the other's. Committing oneself to an unalterable position makes it clear that the other negotiator is the one who has the last chance of avoiding no agreement. Plugging up your ears until the other negotiator says yes is an example.
5. be ready to walk away with no agreement. Every negotiator is faced with a continual threefold choice of (a) accepting the available terms for agreement, (b) trying to improve the available terms through further negotiation, and (c) discontinuing negotiations without agreement and with no intention of resuming them. If you cannot walk away with any agreement, you must accept what the opponent is willing to give.
For a goal-oriented group, a win—lose strategy of negotiation has some fundamental shortcomings. Although it often results in more favorable primary gains for some group members, the damage it can cause to future cooperation among group members significantly reduces its secondary gains. Because a win—lose strategy emphasizes power inequalities, it undermines trust, inhibits dialogue and communication, and diminishes the likelihood that the conflict will be resolved constructively. Attempts to create cooperative relations between negotiators are more effective if their power is equal (Deutsch, 1973). Walton (1987) notes that when power is unequally distributed, the low power person will automatically distrust the high-power person because he or she knows that those with power have a tendency to use it for their own interests. Usually, the greater the difference in power, the more negative the attitudes toward the highpower person and the less likely the low-power person is to present his or her views in a clear and forceful way. The high-power person, on the other hand, tends to underestimate the low-power person's positive intent and reacts with hostility whenever the lowpower person tries to reduce his or her power. Even when an agreement is reached, losers have little motivation to carry out the actions agreed on, resent the winner, and often try to sabotage the agreement. The winner finds it hard to enforce the agreement. Damage to interpersonal relationships results as winners and losers are often hostile toward one another.
In going for the win, you assume that the relationship is unimportant and has no future. This is often a mistake. There are very few times in your life when you negotiate with someone you will never interact with again. If you go for a win and then face the person the next day, sooner or later the other person gets revenge! In most situations, therefore, you want to.try to resolve the conflict by maximizing joint outcomes.
A famous example is the dispute between Israel and Egypt. When Egypt and Israel sat down to negotiate at Camp David in October 1978, it appeared that they had before them an intractable conflict. Egypt demanded the immediate return of the entire Sinai Peninsula; Israel, which had occupied the Sinai since the 1967 Middle East war, refused to return an inch of this land. Efforts to reach agreement, including the proposal of a compromise in which each nation would retain half of the Sinai, proved completely unacceptable to both sides. As long as the dispute was defined in terms of what percentage of the land each side would control, no agreement could be reached. Once both realized that what Israel really cared about was the security that the land offered, while Egypt was primarily interested in sovereignty over it, the stalemate was broken. The two countries were then able to reach an integrative solution: Israel would return the Sinai to Egypt in exchange for assurances of a demilitarized zone and Israeli air bases in the Sinai.
Integrative Negotiations: Negotiating to Solve the Problem
Imagine that you and another person are rowing a boat across the ocean and you cannot row the boat by yourself. While the two of you may have conflicts about how to row, how much to row, what direction to row, and so forth, you seek food and water for the other person as well as for yourself. Otherwise, you may perish. Your conflicts become mutual problems that must be solved to both persons' satisfaction. In integrative negotiations, the goal is to maximize joint benefits. Maintaining a high-quality relationship with other group members usually is more important than is getting your way on any one issue. In a family, for example, ensuring the survival of the family is almost always more important than winning on any one issue. Integrative negotiations, therefore, consist of a hard-headed, side-by-side search for an agreement that is advantageous to both sides.
In ongoing relationships, conflicts are often resolved by a procedure known as the one-step negotiation. Each person (1) assesses the strength of his or her interests, (2) assesses the strength of the other person's interests, and (3) agrees that whoever has the greatest need gets his or her way. Marital satisfaction, for example, has been found to be higher when couples allocate decision-making power such that each person exercises more power on decisions that matter to that individual (Beach & Tesser, 1993). The one-step negotiation procedure only works if it is reciprocal. Each should get his or her way half the time. Ongoing relationships are guided by a norm of mutual responsiveness (you help them reach their goals and they help you reach your goals). One-way relationships never last long.
When disputants have to achieve their goals, so that the one-step procedure is not appropriate, they engage in integrative negotiations. There are six basic steps in negotiating a workable solution to a problem that maximizes joint outcomes:
1. Each person explains what he or she wants in a descriptive, no evaluative way.
2. Each person explains how he or she feels in a descriptive, no evaluative way.
3. Each person explains his or her reasons for wanting what he or she wants and feeling the way he or she does.
4. Each person reverses perspectives by summarizing what the other person wants and feels and the reasons underlying those wants and feelings.
5. The participants invent at least three good optional agreements that would maximize joint outcomes.
6. The participants choose the agreement that seems the wisest and agree to abide by its conditions.