Handbook of Communication and Social Interaction Skills

By John O. Greene; Brant R. Burleson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 20
NEGOTIATION SKILLS
Michael E. Roloff
Department of Communication Studies, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
Linda L. Putnam
Department of Speech Communication, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
Lefki Anastasiou
Market Facts, Inc., McLean, Virginia

Negotiation processes pervade our daily lives. Whether we are buying a house, negotiating a contract at work, or bargaining with a spouse to see a movie, we often decide among an array of options through exchanges with others. Although negotiation is associated with collective bargaining (Stevens, 1963), buyer–seller transactions (Karass, 1970), and international diplomacy (Lall, 1966), interest in negotiation has expanded and scholars have found it fruitful to study negotiation in the workplace (Strauss, 1978), marital settings (Scanzoni & Godwin, 1990), and legal contexts (Van Koppen, 1990).

When a particular behavior such as negotiation is valued, formal research is conducted to identify the skills that lead to effective enactment of that behavior, the results of which form the basis for educational and training programs that help individuals acquire skills. From this perspective, to be skillful implies that one can act in a manner that meets or surpasses criteria or indicators of effectiveness. Negotiation skills, then, refer to a subset of knowledge and behaviors that influence bargaining performance (Lewicki, 1997). These skills are effective when they achieve negotiation goals or when they grow out of an understanding of the process that surpasses minimal performance. The goal of skill development in negotiation is to teach students how to create something new that neither party could achieve independently so that they can resolve complex problems through bargaining (Lewicki, 1986).

Achieving this goal results in a number of significant benefits. Effective negotiators often obtain resources, develop contracts, and reach tough agreements in situations that could have otherwise broken down (Lewicki, Saunders, & Minton, 1999). A second benefit of negotiation is to manage conflict effectively and to avoid capitulating, withdrawing, or relying on decisions made by higher authorities. Effective negotiation means that parties collaborate in decisions about their own fate and build healthy relationships through working with other disputants. Skill in negotiation also entails

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