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The Ethics Of Negotiation In Everyday Life Philosophy Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Philosophy
Wordcount: 3007 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Every day of our life we manage to compromise and resolve conflicts. Some people it seems get away with whatever they want and so the question we ask ourselves is WHY?? Is it that these people are extreme negotiators or do they just have skills to obtain the outcome they so desire?

Negotiation is a channel of communication anticipated to resolve disputes, and to generate an agreement upon methods of action to be undertaken or to haggle for an advantage to an individual or a group, or to bring about positive results to satisfy interested parties. It is the most important method of another dispute resolution.

The word “negotiation” is from the Latin term, “negotiatus”, and past participle of negotiare which means “to carry on business”. “Negotium” means literally “not leisure”.

Negotiation takes place on a daily basis in our lives, in our businesses, non-profit organisations, government departments, in legal dealings, amongst different countries, in our own personal situations such as parenting, our marriage and if we divorce.

Professional negotiators are trained and specialised, for example union representatives or union leaders, diplomats and hostage or peace negotiators.

Studies have shown that emotions do play a very important role in our decision making process but to what length can we assume that our negotiating skills do depend on our emotions. At times resolving conflict is considered exclusively as reasonable and sensible; however, our own emotions have a power to sway our decisions in making or breaking a deal.

When we become aware of the fact that the other party is meddling into our affairs and is blocking us from achieving our goals and interfering with us and stopping us from reaching out and getting what we wanted, it is then that our emotions spring into action and conflict is a predictable result.

As a human being if we perceive a situation as a threat or we feel people being disrespectful towards us personally or toward other human beings our emotion starts to burst into flames. Studies have proved that an issue with more importance and the stronger we feel about the issue tends to bring out stronger emotions within us and the conflict can turn nasty.

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Can we ignore our emotions in negotiations or approach them as a rational problem? A lot of written materials about negotiation suggest that emotions have to be managed, concealed or brought up and discussed at the beginning when necessary and then ignored. The reasons being that we are always taught that being anger escalates the conflict and is always easier to discuss the essential issues than to discuss the feelings of humiliation, anxiety or the wounded pride. Wounded pride would be compared similar to a wounded tiger that is ready to pounce angrily on the first object of desire. The above attributes obscure our rational thinking and makes others view it as a sign of weakness.

Emotions and feelings go hand in hand and it guides the basic principal of dealing with the conflict. If you have ever had a fight with your children and in the heat of the moment said something’s that you should not have said, you would know that because of your emotional outburst not only you have hurt the feelings of your children but have also hurt your own feelings.

Maslow’s Chain of Hierarchy third from the bottom talks about wanting to be loved or sense of belonging and then moves further up to self-esteem and self-actualisation which says that humans have emotional needs such as being respected for what they are or be treated fairly or being recognised or have a sense of belonging.

Emotions can have positive or negative feelings in a situation depending on the circumstances and the environment created by those circumstances. An outcome to that conflict can be either resolved or escalated depending on how the parties feel about the issue. The understanding of the importance of a role, emotions plays in a conflict and its relationship is what needs special attention and understanding. Once we understand the fundamentals and accept that emotions are the basis of creation and resolution of all the conflicts, and then we can learn to understand how to use our emotions to manage and achieve a successful outcome of a conflict. When you are negotiating with the other party and that party is only working on logic and has not invested in emotions, then in cases like such emotions can overcome logic.

One always wants to feel a winner because they may have got a great deal or they want their opinions heard or concerned felt and negotiations that do not recognise such emotions will not succeed.

People prior to beginning of the negotiation should psyche themselves with positive mental attitude and confidence as it has been proved that negotiators with positive behaviour tend to interact more during the negotiating process, show less litigious attitude which in turn helps them use less aggressive tactics and clearly think of more strategies for cooperation and getting results. It has been proved that more agreements and settlements have been reached by negotiators who had positive attitude rather than negative behaviour. It has also been discussed that agreements reached with positive behaviour has had positive post negotiation effect and has also increased satisfaction with achieved outcome for future negotiations and outcomes.

Positive emotions have increased opportunities of your goals being achieved through negotiations and as such the negotiators show empathy, also show respect for the other side and use creative tactics rather than use aggressive tactics.

Negative emotions on the other hand can create bad feelings, and the results of which, makes one party become intimidated and hostile and these sort of negative feelings can impede negotiations from moving forward in a positive and beneficial direction.

Even before the negotiations starts negotiators, who are angry, tend to use aggressive planning and also tend to be less cooperative. During the process of negotiations, with emotions of anger, you completely ruin the negotiating process as the level of trust plummets between the parties, clouding their judgment and lessening the focus of attention. This outburst of emotion changes the party’s objective from reaching an agreement to resentment against the other party. Angry negotiators are less concerned about the opposite party’s welfare and are likely to make inaccurate judgements of their interests and thus achieve very little gains from their negotiations. Anger makes negotiators more self-centered in their thinking and therefore increases the likelihood that profitable offers to reach an agreement may be rejected. Opponents who get angry and easily show their emotions or cry or lose control will make errors in the other party’s favour. Anger doesn’t help either party to achieve their goals as it deduces common gains and does not help to advance personal gains either.

Sometimes, expressing your negative emotions during negotiation can be a benefit and justifying your anger can also be an effective way to show your needs, sincerity and commitment.

Anger needs to be dealt with directly and constructively. In a negotiating situation if you have ever lost your cool, the power of an apology should not be undermined. Anger is always within us in some form or the other and occasionally expelling your anger clears the way for you to think constructively and move ahead in life.

Fear is another emotion that we project at times during our negotiations. The most important fear we have is that of loosing and not being able to ‘save face’. Many a times we feel the fear but we are not prepared to show that we are afraid and in doing so we sometimes accept an agreement that is not in our best interest. We must understand that fear as an emotion is normal in situations but learning to handle fear is very important. If you are fearful of something then the first step you must take is to have a sense of calmness and project confidence which does not happen so easily unless you practice. Practice projecting confidence and after a while you will feel begin to feel the confidence you are projecting. A great example would be that of a person scared of dogs as dogs can sense fear and therefore the person projecting confidence would convey a message of confidence to the animal which in turn may ignore you and walk away from the situation.

In situations where you are confronted with anger and fear it may do you good to take a time out and re-arrange your meeting and gather your thoughts, your attitude and your mind-set. Theorists have said that “anger expressed in negotiation is generally not personal, although, sometimes it feels that way”.

“When emotions are hidden and disguised, the dispute becomes a labyrinth, with layers and layers of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours so concealed that the conflict seems inevitable and insoluble.” — Thomas J. Scheff, from Bloody Revenge: Emotions, Nationalism, and War, p. 14.

While emotions can be a hurdle to achieving a maximum value in your agreement, the common advice you are always given is to “get rid of emotions” is impracticable and unwise as research suggests that negotiators by gaining an understanding of the information communicated by their own emotions and those of the opposite party can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their negotiation.

The question here beckons us to consider seriously: (1) Does emotions creates a barrier to a win-win agreement? Or (2) should negotiators toss their emotions aside and focus purely on the “important” and “essential” matters?

Emotions can hamper the ability of a negotiator in many different ways to arrive at an astute agreement in a fair and amicable way. (1) Emotions may sidetrack our attention from matters with practical importance or if both or either of the parties gets angry or upset, they both will have to deal with the hassle of emotions. Somehow we will need to respond to the emotion and so should we decide to yell back, or to sit quietly and ignore the outburst, or should we storm out of the room,

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(2) If we disclose our emotions we can open ourselves up to being manipulated. If we are ashamed with embarrassment or cringe with surprise, these observable physical responses tender the other party hints about our “true” concerns. Our emotional reactions may encourage an observer to quickly gain knowledge of which issues we value the most and which we value the least, and once that knowledge is gained they can use that information to try to extract concessions from us.

(3) Our chain of thoughts may take a secondary function to our feelings. If one is falling in love than emotions are advantageous, but in negotiations they make it difficult to think precisely, because we cannot easily measure our emotions and taking emotions in consideration the role of facts, logic and hard data is reduced.

(4) Emotions can easily take charge of us unless we are very careful about them. Involving emotions may cause us to lose our temper, to stumble anxiously over our words, or to sulk uncontrollably in self-pity.

We may possibly reject an agreement in anger that is much better than the alternatives we have on offer, or we may not focus on our goals at all, but rather on hurting the negotiator whose actions triggered our anger. Thus, it is not surprising that a negotiator may fear the power of emotions. Emotions are dangerous and can be destructive.

Wisdom offered to us for years always counsels us about how to deal with emotions in negotiation. We have always been told not to get emotional when negotiating. As a negotiator we are continuously encouraged to “Swallow our pride,” told “Not to worry,” and “Keep a straight face.” Emotions are always seen as an obstruction by the negotiators and should be avoided at all costs.

We as human beings are in a condition of unending emotions and we constantly experience emotional states of some type or another, such as anger, anxiety, nostalgia or boredom. Emotions are inspired by the circumstances surrounding us or by our own actions and thoughts and by the actions of the others toward us.

Impulses, moods, attitudes and emotions can definitely affect a negotiator in many different ways. A strong desire to behave in a particular way now, without much thought about possible consequences is known as an Impulse, e.g. if one party in negotiation feels mistreated by the other party, then the first party may have an impulse to storm out of the room, spoiling the possibility of a negotiated agreement.

A study by Butt et al. (2005) reproducing a real multilevel negotiation was conducted and most people reacted to the partner’s emotions in mutual, rather than harmonising manner.

Some general responses that reveal concerns about ones identity are anger, pride, guilt or regret, and worry or disappointment. Feelings of pride are associated with feelings of closeness and connectedness, whilst feelings of shame often result from a sense that these relationships are threatened. Negotiating parties involved in a dispute are subjected to unintentional humiliation of each other or create a disregard one each other’s perspectives. Feelings of embarrassment and contempt may give rise to shame. In what manner do negotiating parties manage shame is determined by the fact that if the parties are willing to cooperate or a long-drawn-out conflict. If they remain difficult to understand and are not dealt with straight away, then the hurt feelings and shame tend to give rise to anger, aggression, and conflict escalation. At this point of negotiations, the key issues of the conflict may have very little influence or no importance only that the opposite party’s feelings are hurt and they rage. Anger, hatred and hostility may in the end give rise to enmity, and thus serves as a hard process behind many of the world’s religious wars and conflicts, and a good example of that would be the continuous fight between Israel and Palestine or between India and Pakistan or between Shiite’s and Sunni Muslims.

Detailed emotions are found to have different effects on the other party’s feelings and strategies chosen:

Anger causes the opponents to place lower demands and in negotiations not only does it offset gains with losses, but also appraises the negotiation process less favorably. It forces both controlling and compliant behaviour of the opposite party.

Pride led to more compromising and integrative strategies by the other party.

Guilt or regret shown by the negotiator led to better intuition of him/her by the opposition; however it also led the opponent to put forward higher demands. Personal guilt was related to more satisfaction with what one achieved.

Worry or disappointment left bad impression on the opposite party, but also at the same time led to relatively lower demands by the opponent.

Emotions play quite an important part in how both the parties during negotiations make sense of their social status, their relationships, their social status, their position and their power. We as humans, continuously appraise situations to feel out and test them to see if they are personally relevant. These understandings and appraisals always introduce various emotions and feelings into our minds. Thus, emotion not only become an important issue in a conflict, but also straight from the beginning frames the way in which both parties define and understand their conflict.

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In, (New York: Penguin Books, 1983) a book written by Roger Fisher and William Ury suggest that accepting and understanding ones strong emotions is the crucial first step in dealing with them, and to try to understand the source of their emotions. Prior to the formal discussions of the dispute in many cases, ones emotions should be handeled and dealt with.

Both negotiating parties must accept the fact that the other party should be allowed to express their feelings and that certain emotions will always be present. Dismissing or not understanding the fact that others have feelings too or becoming agitated in answering or show emotional outburst will likely inflame the situation and may get more intense emotional response from the other party.

Parties can use several methods to deal with emotions so that we may have a positive impact on conflict resolution, rather than a disparaging one. Anger management strategy is the one most widely used in negotiation and tactics such as deep breathing, mental mode, relaxation techniques, thoughts control related exercises, communication with importance to listening and tone usage are some of the very important techniques that can be used to your advantage.

Ones mood may have a very beneficial effect on negotiation as positive moods can cause positive thoughts which leads to positive attitude and behaviour. Sometimes, we feel certain emotions whilst we are in the process of negotiation, but we suppress the expressions of those feelings without showing our anger through emotions or our tone of voice or even our body language.

The common advice to “get rid of emotions” is impracticable and unwise. On the contrary, research suggests that negotiators can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of a negotiation by gaining an understanding of the information communicated by emotions, their own and those of others, and enlisting positive emotions into the negotiation.


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