The Art of Skilful Negotiating


  • Karen Trace



This article is a comprehensive outline of the rationale behind and the skills involved in alternative dispute resolution. A discussion on the nature of conflict leads to the submission that convergent negotiation is a more efficient means of settling disputes, as opposed to the divergent negotiations that are typified by conventional adversarial negotiation. This is followed by a discussion of the various theories on negotiations. The processes and rationale involved in interest based negotiations are then reviewed. A condition precedent to the process is to get the parties to realize that they have a common problem that must be solved collectively, and not that one party must "win" at the expense of the other. The key skills and attributes of a successful interest-based negotiator are outlined: the negotiator must focus on the problem, use appropriate communication techniques, set the tone for mutual gain, prepare properly for negotiations and practice frequent self-evaluation. The article concludes with a complete framework designed to lead to successful negotiations.