Johnson, David W., 1940-
Joining together : group theory and group skills / David W. Johnson, Frank
P. Johnson.— 10th ed.
THE INTEGRATIVE NEGOTIATING PROCEDURE
Step One: Describe What You Want (Your Interests)
In describing what you want, you assert your wants and listen carefully to the other person's wants. Describing your wants and goals includes describing (not evaluating) the other person's actions and defining the conflict as a mutual problem and in as small and specific a way as possible.
Describing What You Want. Negotiating begins when you describe what you want.
Everyone has a perfect right to express what his or her wants, needs, and goals are (Alberti & Emmons, 1978 ; Table 9.4). You have a perfect right to assert what you want, and the other person has a perfect right to assert what he or she wants. Being assertive is stating your wants, needs, and goals directly to another person in an honest and appropriate way that respects both yourself and the other person. Assertiveness is often contrasted with aggressive and nonassertive. Being aggressive is similar to forcing, where you try to dominate the other person by trying to hurt him or her psychologically or physically to force him or her to concede. Being nonassertive is similar to inappropriate smoothing, where you say nothing, give up your interests, and keep your wants to yourself, letting the other person have his or her way. Assertiveness is related to such positive interpersonal behavior as self-regulation, making personal choices, being expressive, being self-enhancing, and achieving desired goals (Eisenberg & Mussen, 1989). Assertiveness skills enable one to solve problems, resolve conflicts, and help prevent depression (Seligman, 1995).
Just as everyone has a perfect right to assert what he or she wants, everyone has a perfect right to refuse to give you what you want. When someone wants something that is detrimental to your interests or wellbeing, you have a perfect right to say no. After asserting your wants and goals, therefore, do not expect the other person to do exactly as you wish. Do not confuse letting others know what you want with demanding that they act as you think they should.
Communicating what you want involves taking ownership of your interests by making personal statements that describe your wants and goals. To clearly communicate your wants and goals to the other person (Johnson, 2006 ; Johnson & Johnson, 2005):
1. Make personal statements that refer to I, me, my, or mine.
2. Be specific about your wants, needs, and goals and establish their legitimacy.
3. Acknowledge the other person's goals as part of the problem. Describe how the other person's actions are blocking what you want. In doing so, separate the behavior from the person. More specifically, a behavior description includes
a. A personal statement that refers to I, me, my, or mine.
b. A description statement of the specific behaviors you have observed and does not include any judgment or evaluation or any inferences about the person's motives, personality, or attitudes.
4. Focus on the long-term cooperative relationship. Negotiations within a longterm cooperative relationship include discussing how the relationship can be changed so the two of you can work together better. During such conversations, you need to make relationship statements. A relationship statement describes some aspect of the way the two of you are interacting with one another. A good relationship statement indicates clear ownership (refers to I, me, my, or mine) and describes how you see the relationship. "I think we need to talk about our disagreement yesterday" is a good relationship statement.
In presenting a proposed agreement, group members may overemphasize the factors that favor their position, and this overattention to positive arguments tends to result in selective retention of position-consistent information. Although arguing for their position tends to increase their commitment to it (Hovland, Janis, & Kelley, 1953), if they are too demanding, the attempt to persuade may boomerang. Jack Brehm (1976 ; Brehm & Brehm, 1981) demonstrated that persuasive attempts that are viewed as coercive or biased often cause others to reject what is being presented and increase their commitment to their original positions. This intensification is called psychological reactance—the need to reestablish your freedom whenever it is threatened. In one of Bem's studies, for example, two teammates had to choose between two alternatives marked 1-A or 1-B. When the partner stated, "I prefer 1-A," 73% chose 1-A, but when the partner stated, "I think we should both do 1-A," only 40% chose 1-A (Brehm & Sensenig, 1966). Similarly, 83% of the members of a group refused to go along with a member who stated, "I think it's pretty obvious all of us are going to work on task A" (Worchel & Brehm, 1971).
Listening to the Other Person's Wants. Your success as a negotiator largely depends on showing the other person how his or her wants and goals may be met through accepting your proposals. In order to make a persuasive case for your position, you have to understand clearly what the other person's interests and feelings are. This requires careful listening and being able to see the situation from the other person's perspective.
To listen to another person you must face the person, stay quiet (until your turn), think about what the person is saying, and show you understand. The keystone to careful listening is paraphrasing. Paraphrasing is restating, in your own words, what the person says, feels, and means. This improves communication by helping avoid judging and evaluating (when restating, you are not passing judgment), giving the sender feedback on how well you understand the messages (if you do not fully understand, the sender can clarify), communicating to the sender that you want to understand what he is saying, and helping you see the issue from the sender's perspective. The paraphrasing rule is that before you can reply to a statement, you must restate what the sender says, feels, and means correctly and to the sender's satisfaction (Johnson, 1971b). When you use paraphrasing, there is a rhythm to your statements. The rhythm is, "You said . . . ; I say. . . ."
First you say what the sender said ("You said"). Then you reply ("I say"). Paraphrasing is often essential in defining a conflict so that a constructive resolution may be negotiated.
Describing the Other Person's Actions. Imagine you and a close friend are in a conflict. Your friend believes you have behaved in a very destructive way. You believe your behavior was caused by extenuating circumstances, the actions of other people, and a desire to do the right thing. You conclude that your friend should understand and forgive you. Your friend, however, insists that your behavior was caused by your negative personal characteristics such as poor judgment, irresponsibility, selfishness, a lack of concern, a tendency to show off, and incompetence. You are deeply hurt and counterattack, accusing your friend of being a person of low moral character who is irresponsible and selfish, has poor judgment, and lacks any concern for you. Both you and your friend consider the other's attributions to be unfair and unreasonable and, therefore, the conflict is escalated. Harold Kelley and his associates (Kelley, 1979; Orvis, Kelley, & Butler, 1976) found just such a cycle in a study of 700 conflicts in forty-one marriages.
Conflicts are created and escalated when individuals engage in destructive acts. The harm destructive acts do cannot be easily repaired, no matter how considerate and thoughtful a person is later. Destructive acts are exceptionally detrimental to relationships, whereas constructive acts do not yield commensurately positive consequences (e.g., Gottman, 1994; Jacobson & Margolin, 1979; Markman, 1981 ; Rusbult & Van Lange, 1996). In conflicts, there are two general classes of destructive acts: 1. Directly hurting the other person 2. Inferring that the other person's actions are the result of dispositional (personality, beliefs, attitudes, and values) factors Avoiding directly hurtful actions is always a good idea. More difficult to control, however, are the inferences you make about other people's behavior. Especially in conflicts, there is a tendency to attribute the causes of the opponent's behavior to his or her inner psychological states (Blake & Mouton, 1962; Chesler & Franklin, 1968 ; Sherif & Sherif, 1969) while at the same time attributing the causes of your own behavior to situational (environmental) factors. This is known as the fundamental attribution error (Ross, 1977 ; Ross & Nisbett, 1991). Inferences about the causes of behaviors and events are known as attributions. Attribution theory posits that people continually formulate intuitive causal hypotheses so that they can understand and predict events that transpire (Heider, 1958). Attributions are especially important in conflicts, since attributions influence perceptions of groupmates' motives and intentions (Steiner, 1959) and mediate reactions to groupmates' behaviors (Horai, 1977; Messe, Stollak, Larson, & Michaels, 1979). If attributions are accurate, they help group members understand one another. If attributions are inaccurate, they tend to alienate group members from one another and make conflicts more difficult to resolve. If group members believe you are trying to label them as sick, weak, incompetent, or ineffective, they will refuse to negotiate flexibly (Brown, 1968 ; Pruitt & Johnson, 1970; Tjosvold, 1974, 1977).
DEFINING THE CONFLICT AS A MUTUAL PROBLEM
A house divided against it cannot stand.
Two drivers, coming from different directions, are roaring down a one-lane road. Soon they will crash head-on. If the two drivers define the situation as a competition to see who will "chicken out," they will probably crash and probably die. If the two drivers define the situation as a problem to be solved, they will tend to see a solution in which they alternate giving one another the right-of-way. Even simple and small conflicts become major and difficult to resolve when they are defined in a competitive, win-lose way. Even major and difficult conflicts become resolvable when they are defined as problems to be solved.
A conflict defined as a problem to be solved is much easier to resolve constructively than a conflict defined as a win-lose situation (Blake & Mouton, 1962 ; Deutsch & Lewicki, 1970). The total benefits for all sides in negotiations are higher when problem solving strategies are used (Lewis & Pruitt, 1971). Defining the conflict as a mutual problem to be solved tends to increase communication, trust, liking for one another, and cooperation.
Defining the Conflict as Being Small and Specific. In defining a conflict, the smaller and more specific it is defined, the easier it is to resolve (Deutsch, Canavan, & Rubin, 1971). The more global, general, and vague the definition of the conflict, the harder the conflict is to resolve. Defining a conflict as, "She always lies" makes it more difficult to resolve than defining it as "Her statement was not true."
Step Two: Describe Your Feelings
Many of us in business, especially if we are very sure of our ideas, have hot tempers. My father knew he had to keep the damage from his own temper to a minimum.
Thomas Watson, Jr., Chairman Emeritus, IBM
The second step of negotiating to solve a problem is describing how you feel. In order to communicate your feelings you must be aware of them, accept them, and be skillful in expressing them constructively. Expressing and controlling your feelings is one of the most difficult aspects of resolving conflicts. For several reasons, it is also one of the most important (Johnson, 2006; Johnson & Johnson, 2005). First, many conflicts cannot be resolved unless feelings are recognized and expressed openly. If individuals hide or suppress their anger, for example, they may make an agreement but keep their resentment and hostility toward the other person. Not only is their ability to work effectively with the other person and resolve future conflicts constructively damaged, the conflict tends to reoccur. Second, it is through experiencing and sharing feelings that close relationships are built and maintained. Feelings are the cement holding relationships together, as well as the means for deepening relationships and making them more effective and personal. Third, feelings that are not accepted and recognized can bias judgments, create insecurities that make it more difficult to manage conflicts constructively, and reduce control over your behavior. Fourth, the only way other people can know how you are feeling and reacting is for you to tell them. The more you practice telling people how you feel, the more skillful you will be at expressing those feelings constructively.
Step Three: Exchange Reasons for Positions
Once both you and the other person have expressed what you want and how you feel, listened carefully to one another, and defined the conflict as a small and specific mu tual problem, you must exchange the reasons for your respective positions on the conflict. To do so, negotiators have to:
1. Express cooperative intentions.
2. Present your reasons and listen to the other person's reasons.
3. Focus on wants and interests, not positions.
4. Clarify the differences between you and the other's interests before trying to integrate them into an agreement.
5. Empower the other persons.
Express Cooperative Intentions: Enlarging the Shadow of the Future. One of the most constructive things you can do in resolving a conflict is to highlight the long-term cooperative relationships. This is done in three ways. (1) Stress the dealing with the conflict in a problem-solving way. You want to say such things as, "This situation means that we will have to work together," or "Let's cooperate in reaching an agreement," or "Let's try to reach an agreement that is good for both of us." (2) State that you are committed to maximizing the joint outcomes. Successful negotiation requires finding out what the other person really wants, and showing him or her a way to get it while you get what you want. (3) Enlarge the shadow of the future by stating that you are committed to the continuation and success of the joint cooperative efforts. In doing so, you must wish to point out the long-term mutual goals and the ways the two of you are interdependent for the foreseeable future.
The clear and unambiguous expression of cooperative intentions in negotiations results in higher-quality agreements being reached in a shorter amount of time (i.e., better agreements faster). The other person becomes less defensive, more willing to change
his or her position, less concerned about who is right and who is wrong, and more understanding of your views and ideas (Johnson, 1971b, 1974; Johnson, McCarty, & Allen, 1976). The other person also tends to see you as an understanding and trustworthy person in whom he or she can confide.
The expression of competitive intentions, such as threats and punishments, tends to escalate the conflict (Deutsch & Krauss, 1960, 1962). Imagine you own a trucking company that carries merchandise over the roads pictured in Figure 9.4. Each time your truck reaches its destination, you earn sixty cents minus the operating cost of one cent for each second it takes. A part of the road is one-way. If you encounter a truck going the opposite way, one of you has to reverse to let the other through. If the other person refuses to back up, you can close a gate at the other end, and then he or she must back up and take the alternative route. You can then open the gate for yourself and proceed rapidly to your destination. Describe how you would behave.
Morton Deutsch and Robert Krauss (1960, 1962) used this situation to determine haw the use of threats affects hostility, counterthreats, and unwillingness to compromise. In the unilateral-threat condition, only one participant had a gate. In the bilateralthreat condition, both sides had gates. In the control condition, no gates were present.
When no gate was present, the participants learned to alternate in their use of the oneway road, and both made a profit of about $1.00. When one participant had a gate, participants lost an average of $2.03 per person, although the participant with the gate lost less than the participant without the gate. When both participants had a gate, participants lost an average of $4.38 per person. Thus, the use of threats was counterproductive, intensifying the destructive aspects of the conflict. In considering the use of threats, you may want to remember the advice of Niccolo Machiavelli, an adviser to sixteenthcentury Florentine princes:
I hold it be a proof of great prudence for men to abstain from threats and insulting words toward anyone, for neither ... diminishes the strength of the enemy ; but the one makes him more cautious and the other increases his hatred of you and makes him more persevering in his efforts to injure you.
Presenting Your Reasons and Listening to the Other Person's Reasons.
Simply saying what you want and how you feel is not enough when you are in an integrative negotiation. You also must give your reasons for wanting what you want and feeling as you do. It is not enough to say, "I want to use the computer now and I'm angry at you for not letting me have it." You must elaborate, "I have an important homework assignment due today and this is my only chance to get it done." Your reasons are aimed at informing the other person and persuading him or her to agree with you.
Many times you will have to ask the other person why he or she has taken a cer-- tain position. You may ask a friend to study with you. She may reply "no." Until you understand the reasons for the answer, you will not be able to think creatively of ways for both of you to get what you want. The statement in doing so is, "May I ask why?"
If the answer is vague, you add, "Could you be more specific? What do you mean when you say .. . ? I'm not sure I understand." Your tone of voice is as important as the words when you ask these questions. If you sound sarcastic your attempt to understand the other person will backfire.
Once both of you have explained your reasons, either of you may agree or disagree to help the other person to reach his or her goals. The decision to help the other person reach his or her goals or keep negotiating is based on two factors:
1. How important your goal is to you
2. How important the other person's goal is to him or her (based on the reasons presented)
You must listen carefully to the reasons given and decide whether they are valid. If you decide that the other person's goals are far more important to him or her than yours are to you, you may wish to agree at this point. Keep in mind, though, that giving up your goals to help the other person reach his or her goals works only if he or she does the same for you about 50% of the time. This is the one-step negotiation procedure discussed earlier in this chapter.
If the other person's reasons are not valid, you need to point that out so he or she may see the inadequacies of his or her proposals. If neither you nor the other person is convinced to give up your goals for the goals of the other person, then the two of you must reaffirm your cooperative relationship and explore one another's reasons on a deeper level.
Focus on Wants and Interests, Not Positions. In order to negotiate successfully and reach an agreement that satisfies both people, you have to approach the other person on the basis of his or her wants and goals. The classic example of the need to separate interests from positions is that of two sisters, each of whom wanted the only orange available. One sister wanted the peel of the orange to make a cake; the other wanted the inner pulp to make orange juice. Their positions ("I want the orange!") were opposed, but their interests were not. Often, when conflicting parties reveal their underlying interests, it is possible to find a solution that suits them both.
The success of integrative negotiations depends on finding out what the other person really wants, and showing him or her a way to get it while you get what you want.
Reaching a wise decision, therefore, requires reconciling wants and goals, not positions.
Usually, several possible positions can be found that satisfy various wants or goals. A common mistake is to assume that because the other person's position is opposed to yours, his or her goals also must be opposed. Behind opposed positions lie shared and compatible goals, as well as conflicting ones. To identify the other person's wants and goals, ask "Why?" or "Why not?" and think about his or her choice. Realize that the other person has many different wants and goals.
Focusing on wants and goals rather than positions eliminates many of the traps that cause conflicts to become destructive. One such trap is the aggression that arises from being frustrated by the opponent's refusal to agree with your position. Negotiators can become frustrated and, at any sign of belligerence or hostility by others, release verbal and, in some cases, physical violence. What often prevents high levels of frustration is the continual clarification of wants and goals and the search from new positions that let all members reach their goals.
Differentiate Before Integrating. Conflicts cannot be resolved unless you under- stand what you and the other person are disagreeing about. If you do not know what you are disagreeing about, you cannot find a way to reach an agreement. The more you differentiate between your interests and those of the other person, the better you will be able to integrate them into a mutually satisfying agreement. In discussing a conflict, try to find the answers to these questions: (1) What are the differences between my wants and goals and yours? (2) Where are our wants and goals the same? (3) What actions of the other person do I find unacceptable? (4) What actions of mine does the other person find unacceptable?
Empower the Other Person. During negotiations it is important that you not let the other person feel powerless. Shared power and wise agreements go hand in hand.
There are two ways to empower the other person. The first is by being open to negotiations and flexible about potential agreements. If you refuse to negotiate, the other person is powerless. Willingness to negotiate is based on being open to the possibility that a better option may be available. Staying tentative and flexible means that you do not become overcommitted to any one potential agreement until negotiations have ended.
The second is to provide choice among options. Generate a variety of possible solutions before deciding what to do.
The psychological costs of being helpless to resolve conflicts include frustration, anxiety, and friction. When a person is powerless, he or she either becomes hostile or apathetic. We all need to believe that we have been granted a fair hearing and that we should have the power and the right to gain justice when we have been wronged. If it becomes evident that we cannot gain justice, frustration, anger, depression, and anxiety may result (Deutsch, 1985).
Stay Flexible. Negotiating is a rational process. You are seeking a way to satisfy your wants and reach your goals and the other person is doing the same. How successful you are in reaching an agreement depends on how creatively you can think of alternatives that are good for both you and the other person. This requires flexibility and a willingness to change your mind when you are persuaded that it is rational to do so. It is easy to become entrapped in your commitment to a position and close your mind to alternative agreements. Allan Teger (1980), for example, studied the entrapment process through conducting "dollar auctions." A dollar is auctioned off to the highest bidder with the rule that although the highest bidder gets to keep the dollar, the second highest bidder must pay the amount he or she bid. Thus, if a person bid eighty cents for the dollar and someone else bid ninety cents, the person is entrapped in bidding higher to avoid losing the eighty cents. Negotiators need to be vigilant against being entrapped by their commitment to old proposals and positions.
Coordinate Motivation to Negotiate in Good Faith. Differences in motivation to resolve a conflict often can be found among negotiators. You may want to resolve a conflict, but other group members could care less. A groupmate may be very concerned about resolving a conflict with you, but you may want to avoid the whole thing.
Usually, a conflict cannot be resolved until both persons are motivated to resolve it at the same time. The motivation to resolve a conflict based on the costs and gains of continuing the conflict for each person. The costs of continuing a conflict may be the loss of a friendship, loss of enjoyment from work, the loss of job productivity, or the loss of a friend. The gains from continuing the conflict may be satisfaction in expressing your anger or resentment and protection of the status quo. By protecting the status quo, you avoid the possibility that things might get worse when the conflict is resolved. Answering the following questions may help you clarify your motivation and the motivation of the other person to resolve the conflict:
1. What do I gain from continuing the conflict?
2. What does the other person gain from continuing the conflict?
3. What do I lose from continuing the conflict?
4. What does the other person lose from continuing the conflict?
A person's motivation to resolve a conflict can be changed. By increasing the costs of continuing the conflict or by increasing the gains for resolving it, the other person's motivation to resolve may be increased. Your own motivations can be changed in the same manner.
When the outcomes of negotiations are presented as gains more concessions are made than when the outcomes are presented as losses. Negotiators who think in terms of losses or costs are more likely to take the risk of losing all by holding out in an attempt to force further concessions from the opponent.
The dilemmas of trust and openness arise when negotiators begin to exchange proposals and feelings. When negotiating, a person faces the dilemmas of whether (1) to trust opponents to tell the truth about their interests and (2) to tell the truth about his or her own interests to the opposing negotiators. Deutsch (1958, 1960, 1973) used the Prisoner's Dilemma game to study the issue of trust within conflict situations. The Prisoner's Dilemma derives its name from a hypothetical situation studied by mathematical game theorists (Luce & Raiffa, 1957). Imagine that you and your partner have just robbed a bank, hidden the money, and are arrested by police, who are sure you are guilty but have no proof. The officers' only hope of convicting you is for you to confess. They take you and your partner into separate rooms to question you (Figure 9.5). You are both presented with two alternatives: either you can confess to the crime or you can remain silent. If neither of you confesses, you will both be tried on a minor charge that carries a light sentence of one year in prison. If you both confess, then each will spend five years in prison. If your partner confesses and you do not, your partner will go free but you will get ten years in prison. Conversely, if you confess and your partner does not, you will go free and your partner will go to prison for ten years. The dilemma for you and your partner is whether to trust the other to remain silent and not exploit your silence if you remain silent. If both you and your partner trust the other to keep silent, both of you benefit.
To conduct research on trust, Deutsch used the Prisoner's Dilemma situation in a game format in which pairs of participants were paid according to the combination of their choices (see Figure 9.5). If both choose A, both would receive fifty cents. If both choose B, both would lose fifty cents. If one chooses A and the other chooses B, the person choosing B wins one dollar and the person choosing A loses one dollar. The use of the Prisoner's Dilemma game was a remarkable methodological breakthrough for research on conflict and trust. The results of the research demonstrated that the pursuit of self-interest by each group member leads to a poor outcome for all. In the long run, only cooperative behavior based on trust ensures the well-being and productiveness of the group.
Potential Problems. There are three problems in analyzing underlying interests.
First, sometimes a person does not understand the interests underlying his or her position and preferences and, therefore, cannot describe them to others. Second, disputants may not wish to reveal their interests out of fear that the other might use this information for personal advantage. Revealing one's wants, goals, and interests always carries the risk of having one's vulnerability exploited. Third, a person's interests often are organized into hierarchical trees, with the initial interests discussed being the tip of the iceberg. With more and more discussion, deeper and deeper interests may be revealed.
Step Four: Understand the Other Person's Perspective
The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
To reach a wise agreement, you must have a clear understanding of all sides of the issue, an accurate assessment of their validity and relative merits, and the ability to think creatively to come up with potential solutions that maximize joint outcomes and fulfill the interests of all disputants. To do all this, you must be able to (1) see the conflict from both your own and the other person's perspective and (2) keep both perspectives in mind at the same time. A perspective is a way of viewing the world (as well as specific situations) and one's relation to it. Social perspective taking is the ability to understand how a situation appears to another person and how that person is reacting cognitively and emotionally to the situation. The opposite of perspective taking is egocentrism, or being - unaware that other perspectives exist and that one's own view of the conflict is incomplete and limited.
To see the situation from another person's shoes, you need to understand several aspects of perspectives. First, each person has a unique perspective (a way of viewing the world and his or her relation to it) that is different from the perspectives of others. As a result of their life experiences, no two people will see a problem in exactly the same way. Each person will view an event somewhat differently.
Second, a person's perspective selects and organizes what the person attends to and experiences. All experiences are interpreted and understood within the perspective in which they are viewed. People also tend to see only what they want to see. Out of a mass of detailed information, people tend to pick out and focus on those facts that confirm their prior perceptions and to disregard or misinterpret those that call their perceptions into question. Each side in a negotiation tends to see only the merits of its case, and only the faults of the other side.
Third, each person can have different perspectives at different times. If you have been lifting hundred-pound bags of cement and someone tosses you a forty-pound bag, it will seem very light. But if you have been lifting twenty-pound bags, the forty-pound bag will seem very heavy. When you are hungry, you notice all the food in a room. When you are not hungry, the food does not attract your attention. As your job role, experiences, assumptions, physiological states, and values change, your perspective will also change.
Fourth, the same message can mean two entirely different things from two different perspectives. If you provoke your coworker, she may laugh. But if you provoke your boss, she may get angry and fire you! Different perspectives mean the message will be given different meanings. From one perspective, the same message may be interpreted as friendly teasing or as hostile insubordination. A person's perspective determines how a message will be interpreted.
Fifth, misunderstandings often occur because we assume that everyone sees things from the same perspective as we do. If we like Italian food, we assume that all our friends like Italian food. Accurate perspective taking is one of the most difficult aspects of conflict resolution. It is also one of the most important (see Johnson & Johnson  for a complete review of the research). Perspective-taking improves communication and reduces misunderstandings and distortions by influencing how messages are phrased and received. The better you understand the other person's perspective, the more able you are to phrase messages so the other person can easily understand them. If a person does not know what snow is, for example, you do not refer to "corn snow" or "fresh powder." In addition, understanding the other person's perspective helps you accurately understand the messages you are receiving from that person. If the other person says, "That's just great!" for example, the meaning reverses if you know the person is frustrated. You must be able to stand in the sender's shoes to understand accurately the meaning of the messages that person is sending you.
Engaging in perspective taking tends to improve the relationship with the other person. You are more liked and respected when the other person realizes that you are seeing his or her perspective accurately and using it to create potential agreements that benefit both sides equally.
Seeing a situation from a variety of points of view demonstrates membership in the broader moral community. By seeing the situation from the opponent's perspective, students (1) remain moral persons who are caring and just and (2) realize that the other person is someone who is entitled to caring and justice.
Failure to understand the other's perspective increases the likelihood of the conflict being managed destructively. In their study of conflict in schools, DeCecco and Richards (1974) found that inability to take the perspectives of others seriously impeded negotiations as a means of conflict resolution.
Taking the other person's perspective transforms a disputant's motivation from immediate sell-interest to long-term concerns about joint outcome and the well-being of the relationship. Being locked in one's own perspective results in acting on the basis of immediate sell-interest (Dehuc, McClintock, & Liebrand, 1993; Yovetich & Rusbult, 1994). Adopting the other person's perspective activates broader concerns, including joint outcomes and the well-being of the other person and relationship (Davis, Conklin, Smith, & Luce, 1996; Johnson, 1971b). Adopting the other person's perspective results in more positive and less negative emotion and cognition, such as situationally based, less blameful constmals of the partner's seemingly destructive acts (Johnson, 1971b ; Jones & Nesbett, 1972 ; Regan & Totten, 1975 ; Storms, 1973). Adopting the perspective of the other person both increases positive emotional reactions (caring, affectionate), relationship-enhancing attributions, and constructive behavior preferences and reduces negative emotions, blaming attributions, and destructive and passive behavioral preferences (Arriaga & Rusbult, 1998).
You ensure that you accurately see the situation from the other person's perspective by (1) asking for clarification or correction to make sure your understanding is accurate (this is called perception checking), (2) stating your understanding of the other's wants and goals (i.e., paraphrasing), and (3) presenting the other's position from his or her perspective (i.e., role playing).
The most effective way to gain insight into the other person's perspective is to role play that you are the other person and present the other person's position and reasoning as if you were he or she. Then have the other person do the same. The more involved the two of you get in arguing for the other's position, the more you will understand how the conflict appears from the other person's viewpoint. Such role playing is invaluable in finding solutions that are mutually acceptable.
A systematic series of studies on the impact of perspective reversal on the resolution of conflicts has been conducted (Johnson, 1971b). The results indicate that skillful perspective reversal increases cooperative behavior between negotiators, clarifies misunderstanding of the other's position, increases understanding of the other's position, and aids one's ability to perceive the issue from the other's perspective. The skillful use of perspective reversal results in a reevaluation of the issue and a change of attitude toward it, as well as the perspective reverser being perceived as a person who tries to understand the other's position and the other person in general, who is willing to compromise, and who is a cooperative and trustworthy person. Temporarily arguing for the other person's position results in insight into his or her perspective and changes your attitudes about the issues being negotiated.
There is nothing more important to resolving conflicts constructively than understanding how the conflict appears from the other person's perspective. Once you can view the conflict both from your own perspective and from the other person's perspective, you are more likely to find mutually beneficial solutions and communicate to the other person that you really understand his or her wants, feelings, and goals. The more skilled you are in seeing things from other people's shoes, the more skilled you will be in resolving conflicts constructively.
Step Five: Inventing Options for Mutual Gain
The fifth step of negotiating is to identify several possible agreements. People have a tendency to agree to the first reasonable solution proposed, thereby shutting off consideration of even more advantageous agreements. Disputants, therefore, should generate at least three good alternative agreements before deciding on which one to adopt. To invent a number of potential agreements, you must avoid a number of obstacles and you must think creatively.
Avoiding Obstacles. In most negotiations there are five major obstacles that inhibit the inventing of a number of options:
1. Judging prematurely. Nothing is so harmful to inventing options as a critical attitude waiting to pounce on the drawbacks of any new idea. Premature criticism is the first impediment to creative thinking.
2. Searching for the single answer. Premature closure and fixation on the first proposal formulated as the single best answer is a sure short-circuit of wise decision making.
3. Assuming a fixed pie. Do not assume that the pie is fixed, so the less for you, the more for me. Rarely, if ever, is this assumption true. Expanding the pie is key to flexible problem solving.
4. Being concerned only with your own immediate wants and goals. In a relationship, to meet your wants you also have to meet the other person's wants. Shortsighted self-concern leads to partisan positions, partisan arguments, and one-sided solutions.
5. Defensively sticking with the status quo to avoid the fear of the unknown inherent in change. Changing creates anxiety about potential new and unknown problems and guilt over ineffective or inappropriate behavior in the past. Many times people try to justify their past actions by refusing to change.
Invent Creative Options. Follett (1940) gives an example of a conflict between two people reading in a library room. One asks, "Is it OK if I open the window?" The other replies, "No, I want the window closed." Their conflict could escalate at this point, but the first person asks, "Why do you want the window closed?" After some discussion, it is determined that one wants to open the window for ventilation, the other wants to keep it closed in order not to catch a cold. To resolve their conflict they search for creative options. They finally agree to open a window in the next room, thereby letting in fresh air while avoiding a draft.
Finding potential agreements that will maximize joint outcomes often takes creative problem solving. To invent creative options, you need to
1. Think of as many options as possible. The more options there are, the greater is the room for negotiations.
2. Separate the act of inventing options from the act of judging them. Invent first, judge later.
3. Gather as much information as possible about the problem. The more you know about the problem, the easier it is to find solutions.
4. See the problem from different perspectives and reformulate it in a way that lets new orientations to a solution emerge. Such a reformulation often produces a moment of insight by one or both participants. The insight is often accompanied by intense emotional experiences of illumination and excitement and leads to the reformulation of the problem so that solutions emerge.
5. Search for mutual gains. There always exists the possibility of joint gain. Look for solutions that satisfy the other person as well as yourself. Try to maximize joint outcomes.
6. Invent ways of making decisions easily. If you want a horse to jump a fence, do not raise the fence. Propose "yesable" agreements.
7. Test each proposed agreement against reality. What are its strengths and weaknesses? What does each person gain and lose? How does it maximize joint outcomes?
The types of agreements that help maximize joint outcomes include the following:
1. Expanding the pie by finding ways to increase the resources available: Many conflicts arise from a perceived resource shortage. In such circumstances, integrative agreements can be devised by increasing the available resources.
2. Package deals, in which parties include in one agreement several reiated issues.
3. Trade-offs, in which two different things of comparable value are exchanged.
4. Tie-ins, in which an issue considered extraneous by the other person is introduced and you offer to accept a certain settlement provided this extraneous issue will also be settled to one's satisfaction.
5. Carve-outs, in which an issue is carved out of a larger context, leaving the related issues unsettled. This is the opposite of a tie-in.
6. Logrolling, in which each party concedes on his or her low-priority issues that are of high priority to the other person.
7. Cost cutting, in which one person gets what he or she wants and the other's cost of conceding on those issues is reduced or eliminated.
8. Bridging the initial positions by creating a new option that satisfies both parties' interests that is different from each originally thought they wanted. Rubin, Pruitt, and Kim (1994), for example, discuss a married couple in conflict over whether to vacation at the seashore or in the mountains. After some discussion, they identified their respective interests as swimming and fishing. They then agreed to visit a lake region that was neither at the seashore nor in the mountains, but offered excellent swimming and fishing.
After inventing a number of options, you and the other person will have to agree on which one to try out first. Some realistic assessment of the alternatives then takes place. In trying to decide which alternative to try first it may help to remember Aesop's fable about the mice in trouble. The mice were saying, "It's terrible! Just terrible! We really must do something about it! But what?" The mice were talking about the cat.
One by one they were falling into her claws. She would steal up softly, spring suddenly, and there would be one mouse less. At last the mice held a meeting to decide what to do. After some discussion a young mouse jumped up. "I know what we should do! Tie a bell around the cat's neck! Then we would hear her coming and we could run away fast!" The mice clapped their little paws for joy. What a good idea! Why hadn't they thought of it before? And what a very clever little fellow this young mouse was! But now a very old mouse, who hadn't opened his mouth during the whole meeting, got up to speak. "Friends, I agree that the plan of the young mouse is very clever indeed. But I should like to ask one question. Which of us is going to tie the bell around the cat's neck?" The moral is there is no use adopting an option that cannot be implemented by one or both persons. Once a variety of optional agreements are invented that maximizes mutual gain and fulfills the interests of all parties, one of the options is selected to be the initial agreement.
Step Six: Reaching a Wise Agreement
I never let the sun set on a disagreement with anybody who means a lot to me.
Thomas Watson, Sr., founder, IBM Given that we are separate individuals with unique wants and goals, whenever we interact with others, some of our interests are congruent and other interests are in conflict. It takes wisdom to manage the combination of shared and opposed interests and reach an agreement. Wise agreements are those that are fair to all participants, are based on principles, strengthen participants' abilities to work together cooperatively, and improve participants' ability to resolve future conflicts constructively. In other words, wise agreements are those that meet the following criteria.
The first requirement for a wise agreement is that the agreement must meet the legitimate goals of all participants and be viewed as fair by everyone involved. In deciding which option to adopt, keep in mind the importance of preserving mutual interests and maximizing joint benefits. Avoid having either side "win."
The second requirement is that the agreement should clearly specify the responsibilities and rights of everyone involved in implementing the agreement. This includes 1. The ways each person will act differently in the future. These responsibilities should be stated in a specific (tells who does what when, where, and how), realistic (each can do what he or she is agreeing to do), and shared (everyone agrees to do something different) way.
2. How the agreement will be reviewed and renegotiated if it turns out to be unworkable. This includes (a) the ways in which cooperation will be restored if one person slips and acts inappropriately and (b) the times participants will meet to discuss whether the agreement is working and what further steps can be taken to improve cooperation with one another. You cannot be sure the agreement will work until you try it out. After you have tested it for a while, it is a good idea to set aside some time to talk over how things are going. You may find that you need to make some changes or even rethink the whole problem. The idea is to keep on top of the problem so that the two of you may creatively solve it.
The third requirement is that the agreement maintains or even improves the relationship among disputants. In deciding on which option to adopt, keep in mind the importance of shared good feelings and preserving your shared history. Focus on the long-term relationship to ensure that the agreement is durable. Point out that the long-term survival and quality of the relationship should not be jeopardized by any agreement reached. The agreement and the process of reaching the agreement strengthen participants' ability to work together cooperatively in the future (the trust, respect, and liking among participants should be increased). The more committed individuals are to their relationship, the more they inhibit negative emotions (annoyance, bitterness), negative attributions (it is all the other person's fault), and negative behaviors (passiveness, destructive acts) (Arriaga & Rusbult, 1998). Commitment appears to involve the inhibition of destructive processes rather than the activation of constructive processes.
Individuals inhibit destructive patterns of thinking (e.g., do not think bad things about us [Rusbult et al., 1996]), drive away thoughts of tempting alternatives relationships (D. Johnson & Rusbult, 1989), and think in collective terms (e.g., "we, us, our" rather than "I, me, mine") (Agnew, Van Lange, Rusbult, & Langston, 1998). Improving the relationship also involves participants remaining moral persons who are caring and just as they resolve the conflict and the perception that the other disputants are entitled to caring and justice.
The fourth requirement for a wise agreement is that the agreement and the process of reaching the agreement strengthen participants' ability to resolve future conflicts constructively. Conflicts of interests will reoccur frequently, and each time one is faced and resolved, the procedures and skills used should be strengthened and validated.
The fifth requirement for a wise agreement is that it be based on principles that can be justified on some objective criteria (Fisher & Ury, 1981). The objective criteria may be
1. Everyone has an equal chance of benefiting (for example, determined by flipping a coin; one cutting, the other choosing ; or letting a third-party arbitrator decide).
2. Fairness (taking turns, sharing, equal use). One way to assess fairness is to list the gains and losses for each person if the agreement is adopted and then see if they balance.
3. Scientific merit (based on theory and evidence indicating it will work).
4. Community values (those most in need are taken care of first).
Evaluate each of the proposed options on the basis of these objective criteria. Using objective criteria to evaluate a possible agreement may result in clarifying what is fair and just from both sides of the issue. Think through which standards are most appropriate to evaluate the options, and make a decision based on principle. The more you do so, the more likely you are to produce a final agreement that is wise and fair.
Using objective criteria to evaluate a possible agreement may result in clarifying what is fair and just from both sides of the issue. Remember King Solomon. One of the first problems the new King Solomon was presented with involved two women who both claimed the same baby. They wanted him to decide whose it was. Sitting on his throne, Solomon listened carefully. The two women lived together in the same house.
Their babies had been born only three days apart. Then one of the babies died. The'first woman said, "This woman's child died in the night. She then arose and took my son from beside me and placed the dead child next to me. When I woke to feed my baby, I found her dead child in my arms." "No!" the other woman cried frantically. "The living child is my son!" Solomon calmly said, "Bring me a sword and bring me the baby.
Divide the living child in two and give half to the one and half to the other." Everyone was shocked. "No! Please don't!" screamed the real mother. "She can have the child.
Don't kill it!" "No," the other woman said, "let the child be neither mine nor yours, but divide it." "Aha!" said Solomon. "Now I know to whom the child belongs." Then, pointing to the woman who had asked that the baby's life be spared, he said, "Give her the living child. She is its mother."
One way to understand how constructive agreements may be reached is to look at a few examples.
1. Roger was a coin collector; his wife, Ann, loved to raise and show championship rabbits. Their income did not leave enough money for both to practice their hobbies, and splitting the cash they did have would not have left enough for either.
Solution: Put all the first year's money into the rabbits, and then, after they were grown, use the income from their litters and show prizes to pay for Roger's coins.
2. Edythe and Buddy shared an office but had different work habits. Edythe liked to do her work in silence, whereas Buddy liked to socialize in the office and have the radio on. Solution: On Mondays and Wednesdays Buddy would help keep silence in the office; on Tuesdays and Thursdays Edythe would work in a conference room that was free. On Fridays the two worked together on joint projects.
3. Keith loved to spend his evenings talking to people all over the world on the Internet. His wife, Simone, felt cheated out of the few hours of each day they could spend together. Keith did not want to give up his computer time and Simone was not willing to forgo the time they had together. Solution: Four nights each week Keith stayed up late and talked to his Internet friends after spending the evening with Simone. On the following mornings Simone drove Keith to work instead of having him go with a carpool, which allowed him to sleep later.
When you fail at negotiating an integrative agreement that is wise, the next step is to start over. To be successful at negotiating in a problem-solving way, you must remember to try, try again. No matter how far apart the two sides seem, no matter how opposed your interests seem to be, keep talking. With persistent discussion a viable and wise decision will eventually become clear.
NEGOTIATING IN GOOD FAITH
You can bring your credibility down in a second. It takes a million acts to build it up, but one act can bring it down ... We try very hard not to do things that will create distrust.
Howard K. Sperlich, president, Chrysler Corporation
Everyone has a negotiating reputation. The promises of some people are to be believed.
Other people rarely keep their commitments. You want to build a reputation as a person who is honest, truthful, trustworthy, and keeps your promises. When you have failed to keep agreements in the past, there are at least three strategies you can use to increase your credibility:
1. Pay your debts. Whatever you have agreed to do in the past and not yet done, do it. Once you have fulfilled past promises, your current promise is more credible.
2. Use collateral. The collateral should be something of value, something the other person does not expect you to give up. While being significant enough to be meaningful, the collateral should not be something so outrageous that it is not believable. Promising to give someone $1,000 if you break your word is not believable.
3. Have a "cosigner" who guarantees your word. Find someone who trusts you that the other person trusts, and have that person guarantee that you will keep your word.
REFUSAL SKILLS: THIS ISSUE IS NON -NEGOTIABLE
Not all issues are negotiable. Group members must be able to know when an issue is or is not negotiable and be able to say "no" or "I refuse to negotiate this issue," such as when the issue involves illegal or inappropriate behavior, when other people will be hurt, or when you do not think you can keep your word. Unclear reasons for saying "no" also exist, such as intuition, being uncertain, not seeing the right option, or having changed your mind. You can save considerable time and trouble by not negotiating on issues that are non-negotiable (Table 9.5).