Elasticity and Mutual Concessions in Communication Space
This research paper explores how elasticity and mutual concessions are important in negotiation space. It is clear that without elasticity and mutual concessions the negotiation either fails or is impossible to give fruitful results. On the other hand, the term negotiation itself is sufficient to denote that negotiation, elasticity, concessions seem almost synonymous, and one cannot stand without the support of another. Therefore, throughout the paper, I will be finding out the essentiality of elasticity and mutual concessions in negotiation space.
Without firm flexibility, the negotiation cannot be imagined or firm flexibility leads to a negotiation between the stakeholders in a conflict. Dean G. Pruitt recommends some significant tactics of firm flexibility. For him, to find a point of negotiation on has to find one’s firm position while getting flexible and conceding for the negotiation. One needs to be clear enough about the important issues while acknowledging the important issues. Similarly, one should be clear enough to one’s own interests while moving to the distinctions of achievement and needs to acknowledge other’s idea if they are stronger and more useful. His overall argument is that firmness in one’s own idea and flexibility to yield in need leads both the side of a conflict to a beneficial point of negotiation (Pruitt 2). In this way, negotiation is not effective unless one knows one’s own interests, a distinction between the interests and result of negotiation and required flexibility to find a negotiating point.
However, negotiations are often thought to be competitive interactions between the stakeholders. People may have different desires, interests, and needs that do not match with one other. Those differences certainly lead to a clash between the stakeholders. In negotiation, one party may win and another loses; no matter how much the gap is. In such critical conditions, effective negotiation could be achieved by using audio-only communication or by written communications by which facial expressions and eye contacts are avoided in hostile situations. Along with the audio-only communication and written communication, third party or mediator can also play a crucial role in settling down the uneasy situations between the conflicting parties and bringing them to a negotiating point (Stuhlmacher and Citera 71). Therefore, face-to-face communication may not be appropriate all the time. If the relationship between the conflicting parties is not much friendly, media technologies and mediator can be useful to reduce tension and reach an effective negation.
Similarly, in negotiation bilateral concessions are not possible all the time. Sometimes, one-sided concessions are necessary when the circumstance or context demand. One significant example given by Daniel Druckman and Christopher Mitchell is very significant and contextual here. Where, despite the hard-line stand of North Korean the nuclear issue, a one-sided concession of the United States reduced possible danger of devastating war (Druckman and Mitchell 13). Sometimes, because of the rigid opponent and harmful circumstances, one may have to concede more to settle down the harmful situations. But, this kind of negotiation can be rethought in favorable circumstances.
On the other hand, sometimes human beings mostly focus on their illusive ideas and want to secure their own ideas at any cost. This insistence creates difficulty in negotiation and is opposite to the spirit of negotiation. In negotiation, one should have the elasticity to be more inclusive, have more consideration where necessary and be ready to or have the ability to change the direction if necessary. This shows that negotiation is not like walking through a preferred and comfortable way; rather it is the fusion of two opposing ways for the collaboration of two or more travelers with different destinations (Levi and Benjamin 406). Negotiation, that is why is not getting victory over one’s enemy rather it is finding a middle path that is a partially preferred way to wall through with an opponent.
Beside this, when we become more focused on the legal part while negotiating, the negotiation moves away from its guiding principles and becomes more one-sided. This one-sidedness in the negotiation becomes bias for the party of the conflict who has considered comparatively more. This bias does not give any sense of justice or an acceptable negotiating point to the party of the conflict. If this discontent is not focused and resolved in the proper time, it turns out to be a betrayal rather than negotiation to one of the parties and process becomes in vain. This is how choosing only the legal way by the mediator in the course of negotiation becomes critical (Mahoney 525). One of the major ways of settling disputes is to take legal action, but it is a quite different way from the spirit of negotiation. In negotiation, both the sides of conflict feel partial victory. But, in legal action one of the two sides has to lose and there is a high chance of conflict in the future.
Though the legal provisions lead the disputants to a certain point of agreement, one of the disputants has to face asymmetric concessions when the point of negotiation is closer to the stand of the opponent. Sometimes, barriers occur in the implementation of the agreement reached because one of the disputants may not believe the opponent or one may be challenged by his/her family members for unnecessary yielding for the concession. In such a difficult situation, there comes the need of third party assistant or mediator for effective settlement of the dispute (Beardsley and Lo 365). Sometimes, the situation needs asymmetric concession that may create mistrust regarding the implementation of the negotiation. Such mistrust can be settled with the help of a mediator.
Moreover, the conflict between disputants gives birth to interests in the participants. The interests emerged in the participants are fulfilled or satisfied only when the dispute between the conflicting party is resolved. Such interests are generally of two types: one is “instrumental” and the next is “Intrinsic” in terms of their effects in the relationship that creates between the conflicting parties. Where instrumental interests are more concerned with establishing their ground and affecting the future relations; and the intrinsic interests seek for benefits or losses in the proposal itself (Gottfried 395). In the course of conflict management, there arise interests concerning the short term as well as long-term achievement out of the negotiation. Those interests should be settled with proper care for effective and durable negotiation.
On the other hand, everyone knows that negotiation is beneficial more or less for both the parties of the dispute. In terms of the benefits of negotiation, Warren French et al divide the style of negotiation in two types. They are distributive style and integrative style. According to them, the distributive style assumes the benefits of negotiation beforehand the act of the negotiation and supposes to allocate the benefits to both the parties of the conflict. However, integrative style of negotiation assumes that the benefits of negotiation are found in the course of the process for negotiation and they are resulted out of the argument of the conflicting sides (French et al. 83). There are differing views about the benefits of negotiation and their distribution among the stakeholders. One of the views believes that benefits are known earlier than the negotiation and focuses on their distribution before the negotiation. However, the second one believes that benefits are known only after the finalization of negotiation.
Besides that, sometimes, even informal mediators can play a crucial role in settling disputes between the conflicting parties and bringing them into a point of negotiation. Such informal mediators can be useful for all level of disputes from the personal level to the state level. David A. Gantz and Frances A. Armstrong in their article refer to the role played by US Embassy as an informal mediator in Panama and Honduras. In the same way, US Embassy officials have played crucial roles by assisting to settle down the disputes of different private companies as an informal mediator. Therefore, when hiring formal arbitrator or mediator is not possible, we can get useful assistance from such informal mediators to settle our disputes down (Frances and Armstrong 254). Hiring mediator is a very common idea in a negotiation process, but sometimes even informal mediators can play very crucial roles.
To sum up, negotiation is a complex process that needs much elasticity, mutual concessions as well as open hearts in the conflicting parties. Both the sides of the conflict and their points of argument may not have equal ground and significance; therefore, one may have to concede more than the other does. In such situation, one may look yielding and conceding more for the negotiation and the concession seems asymmetric and biased to one of the sides. This critical situation in negotiation process creates barriers in implementing the negotiation where a privileged party may disbelieve the other party and the other faces challenge for unnecessary yielding. As the difficulty in reaching some negotiating point between the disputant arises, the disputant can hire formal third party or mediator and informal mediator sometimes for settling down the dispute and its effective implementation for the benefit of both the sides of the conflict.
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