Negotiation Skills Training Basics – Positions Vs. Interests 

Distinguishing between positions and interests is a valuable skill at the negotiation table. If you seek to create value in the relationship, you must be able identify the approach your opponent is using in the negotiation. Choosing to focus on positions or interests will have a direct influence on the outcome. Before entering into any negotiation situation you must ask yourself why you want what you want and choose the best approach to get you there.

Positional Bargaining

A position is the stance you take on a specific subject. Positional Bargaining focuses on “the what” in a negotiation. Those using this approach are seeking to get what they want, without disclosing their motive, and often disregarding the needs of the other side in order to reap the biggest gain. Positional Bargaining is distributive, does not create value, and often even leaves value on the table.

Interest Based Bargaining

An interest is both an objective and/or a need. Interest Based Bargaining focuses on “the why” in a negotiation. This method opens the door for an integrative approach to negotiation, where both sides and work together to find the best solution for all parties involved. In the process, they may create value through their collaborative efforts.


The Classic Orange Conundrum

There is one orange left in the kitchen. Two chefs want the same orange. They both take the position that it is critical for each of them to have the orange. They quickly jump to the resolution of cutting the orange equally down the middle, so each chef gets half, but not as much as either was hoping to receive.

BUT…if they took the time to explore the interest that each chef had in the orange, they would have discovered that one needed the juice to make orange sauce and the other only needed the rind to make orange cake!

Take Charge

As a skilled negotiatior, it is your job to steer the other side to take an approach that will fufill both of your interests. The best way to make this happen, in most situations, is the Interest Based Bargaining approach. Once you establish a relationship of trust, you will be able to better explore the interests of the other side while at the same time disclosing your desires.

Source: Jennifer Smith

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