Integrative Negotiation


Effectiveness in negotiation does not depend on the style adopted, but rather on the strategy deployed

When facing a disagreement or conflict, several options are presented: flee, submit, refuse to agree, look to the law, or search for a negotiated solution. The confidence that each person places in their ability to obtain what they want depends on the strategy chosen in the negotiation.

For many years, doctrine has disputed the key question: what style of negotiation is most effective: cooperation or competition? In reality, research and practice have demonstrated that neither of these two styles has a monopoly on effectiveness.

Effectiveness in negotiation does not depend on the style adopted, but rather on the strategy deployed. Real effectiveness in negotiation comes from having the flexibility to adjust and adapt oneself permanently to the context and the interlocutor. Various methods can be used, such as seduction, threats, exploiting the ignorance of the other, or being friendly with the hope of an uncertain reciprocity.

Of all the existing negotiation techniques, we will highlight Principled Negotiation, integrative negotiation, developed at Harvard University by Professors Roger Fisher and William Ury in the 1980’s. This technique is the method most taught in law and business schools worldwide. This negotiation strategy is based on focusing on the interests of the parties involved and not on the positions that the negotiators may initially take.

Principled Negotiation is a concept developed in the book “Getting to Yes” by Roger Fisher and William Ury. This vision of negotiation is centered on the interests of the parties present in the negotiation and focuses on conflict management and resolution.

Given that the purpose of integrative negotiation is to find a common and satisfactory agreement, sometimes we find that the concept of “win-win negotiation” is synonymous with this strategy.

This vision of negotiation represents a very different vision from the stereotypical one of hard negotiation in which one of the parties inevitably loses while the other wins. In a negotiation based on integrative negotiation, the agreement cannot be improved because the value has been shared during the negotiation.



Bases of integrative negotiation (Harvard method)

If we present this strategy more concretely, we can determine that this strategy is founded on these four pillars:


Separate the people from the problem subject to negotiation

Topics should be based more on the merits that the individuals involved possess rather than on their emotions


Focus on the interests of the parties involved, not on the positions

The interests that are brought to a negotiation among different parties are, in the end, quite similar. Focusing on the interests, the parties may find that they are not as opposed to each other as they might think at first. Every discussion about interests should propose concrete and specific details. This allows the interests to be conceived as more real and credible


Generate different options for mutual gain

Sometimes, people can be too strict when coming up ideas. For example, they may negatively judge the ideas proposed in the brainstorming phase when really, we should allow creativity to flow during the proposal phase and evaluate these ideas a posteriori


Base the agreement reached on objective criteria

For example, if two parties are involved in the buying and selling of a house, objective criteria can be applied to the transaction, such as the comparable price in other sales in the zone or the analysis of an independent real estate expert


Roger Fisher and William Ury have also developed the concept of BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement). This concept refers to the best alternative that we can possibly have when facing a negotiated agreement. It is important to note that the alternative isn’t just one option more, but rather a way to satisfy our interests in the event that we cannot do so in the field of negotiation.

Today, this is the negotiation strategy most respected and utilized by experts, academics, and professionals in the world of negotiation.

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