Logrolling provides opportunities to generate mutual gains

What Does Logrolling Have To Do With Negotiating?

Logrolling provides opportunities to generate mutual gains
Logrolling provides opportunities to generate mutual gains
Image Credit: Richard Hurd

When we enter into a negotiation, we are thinking about one thing: what we’d like to use our negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to get out of the negotiation. Let’s face it, we’re rather self-centered when it comes to planning how our next negotiation is going to turn out. As I’m pretty sure that we are all well aware of by now, thinking only of ourselves when it comes to negotiating can lead to some long and trying negotiations. What if there was a better way? It turns out that it is and it has a name: logrolling.

Welcome To Logrolling

Ok, so now that we’ve said the term “logrolling”, let’s come to an understanding just exactly what this means in terms of negotiating. Logrolling is the act of trading across multiple issues in a negotiation. When you decide to engage in some logrolling it is going to require that a negotiator knows not only his or her own priorities, but also the priorities of the other side. I hope that you are stating to understand that logrolling requires you to do some homework before you walk into your next negotiation.

When you are using logrolling in a negotiation, if one side values something more than the other, they should be given it in exchange for reciprocity on issues that are a higher priority to their opponent. No, you don’t just want to give things away to the other side because they want them, instead you need to be willing to create an environment in which they will be willing to trade you for them.

Logrolling is something that has been studied by researchers for quite some time. What they have discovered is that getting negotiators to become aware of their perspective as they went into a negotiation helped self-interested negotiators discover opportunities to logroll and generate mutual gains that reduced partial impasses. Where things got very interesting was when the study participants used perspective taking to reduce partial impasses through logrolling despite remaining self-interested. This was in contrast to participants who were encouraged to care about the other party’s outcomes. They ended up making less-efficient concessions in order to avoid impasse.

How To Make Logrolling Work For You

I’d like to be able to tell you that every negotiation ends in us reaching a deal with the other side of the table. However, sometimes in negotiation, the two sides fail to reach agreement and end up going their separate ways—that is, they reach an impasse. Partial impasse is also possible: negotiators can’t see eye to eye on certain issues, but they make enough headway on others to wrap up a deal. When a partial impasse occurs, valuable resources can be squandered and opportunities missed. It turns out that logrolling is an effective technique for resolving partial impasses. In negotiation, logrolling is the process of making beneficial trades across issues based on an understanding of each other’s preferences.

Logrolling may sound simple to us, but it turns out that it can be quite difficult to implement in a negotiation when both sides have self-serving goals and care little about the other side’s outcomes. In such cases, what is happening is that social projection and stereotyping are running rampant, and inefficient agreements are likely. If the negotiators can find a way to understand their perspective then this can help self-interested negotiators discover opportunities to logroll that reduce partial impasses. Negotiators can use perspective taking to reduce partial impasse through logrolling despite remaining self-interested.

In order to reach mutually beneficial agreements in negotiation, an understanding of the other side’s experience may be more important than an altruistic motivation to improve overall outcomes. Although some people may be naturally inclined toward perspective taking, simply telling negotiators to focus on the other side’s intentions and interests improved their perspective taking and their performance. That’s good news for negotiators who want to maximize their own outcomes by reaching a deeper knowledge of their counterparts’ interests.

What All Of This Means For You

All too often negotiators go into a principled negotiation thinking only about themselves. When we feel this way, it can be very hard to reach an agreement with the other side. We are so focused on what we want to get out of the negotiations that we can’t imagine what they want and so we’re not able to create a deal that they can live with. The good news is that things don’t have to be this way. There is a technique that can help us to bridge the gap and understand what the other side wants while still focusing on what we want. This technique is called logrolling.

Logrolling is the act of trading across multiple issues in a negotiation. When you are logrolling with someone during a negotiation, if they really want something you should give it to them – however, make sure that you get something of equal value from them in return. The key to using logrolling successfully is for a negotiator to become self-aware at the start of the negotiation and then discover opportunities to log roll and generate mutual gains that reduce partial impasses. The one thing that we want to avoid in a negotiation is a partial impasse because that results in wasted resources. Logrolling may sound simple to do, but it can be challenging because both sides have self-serving goals and care little about the other side’s outcomes. In order to get the most out of logrolling, tell negotiators to focus on the other side’s intentions and interests to improve their perspective taking and their performance.

We all want to get the most out of our next negotiation. We tend to enter into these negotiations only thinking about ourselves and what we’d like to get out of the negotiation. However, if we can start to practice the logrolling technique then we can gain some perspective and start to understand what the other side wants to get out of the negotiation. This will allow us to do trading with them and improves our chances of avoiding running into a partial impasse.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: What should you do if you don’t think the other side is offering you enough to allow you to give in on a given issue?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When you jump into a negotiation, do you know what you want to get out of the negotiation? Perhaps a much more important question is does the other side have a set of expectations regarding what they want to get out of the negotiations no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are used? It turns out that as a negotiator, one of your responsibilities is to make sure that during the negotiations you take the time to carefully manage the other side’s expectations. You need to make sure that when the negotiation is over, their expectations have been met. Now comes the big question – do you know how to go about doing this?

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