Would Joining A Coalition Help You Get The Deal That You Want?

Joining a coalition can help you to get to win-win
Joining a coalition can help you to get to win-win
Image Credit: Aimee Custis Photography

All too often we can find ourselves in a negotiation that we fully understand is just one in what is going to be a series of negotiations with separate individuals or groups about the same thing. What this means for us is that we’re going to have to sit through the same sets of discussions, have the same issues brought up, and try to reach the same agreement with a host of different parties. There has to be a better way to go about doing this. It turns out that there is, it’s called a coalition.

The Power Of Coalitions

A question that we all have to ask ourselves is what should we do when we’re in over your head? You can find yourself in a situation like this if you are presented with a challenge where you have to convince a number of groups of people to do something. If you are like most of us, you’ll select one of those groups and you sit down and start to negotiate with them. With a little luck, you’ll be able to reach a deal with them. Then what? You are looking at having to do the same thing with additional groups in order to try to get agreements with all of the groups. This can be overwhelming – you may feel as though you are not in a position of power where you’ll be able to get the outcome that you are looking for.

It turns out that you can gain leverage and improve your results by banding together into a coalition with other relatively weak parties. As a member of a coalition, you can harness the resources you need to face a tough opponent. So this brings up the interesting question: how do coalitions work? In certain situations, we can understand that negotiators are unqualified to bargain on their own behalf. Lawyers, agents, and other third parties are the ones who can provide the expert negotiation guidance needed to prosper in situations as wide-ranging as a divorce settlement, a book sale, or a corporate merger.

Joining a negotiating coalition takes the “Don’t go it alone” strategy a step further. Rather than hiring one or more advisers to negotiate on your part, a number of weak parties who might otherwise be in competition with one another can join forces to negotiate in a collective, organized manner with one or more stronger parties. We see this happening all the time. A good example of this are labor unions which are the most obvious example of a negotiating coalition. If a company negotiates with an employee individually, it could threaten to hire someone else in the face of the employee’s demands. By contrast, when employees bargain collectively through a union, they are able to avoid the need to compete against one another and typically achieve a more competitive compensation and benefits package than they would have negotiated on their own.

Motivations For Joining A Coalition

When weak parties join a coalition, they avoid destructive competition with one another and, by pooling their resources, they gain strength in negotiations with stronger parties. Additionally, a coalition defuses a common adversary’s ability to pit one weak party against another or to credibly threaten to walk away. Coalitions can bring advantages to the other side. A coalition negotiators is a “one-stop shop.”

Negotiators who belong to associations tend to be better informed about the issues at stake. Although the negotiators may end up paying a higher price to an association than they would to individuals, negotiators typically prefer to work with other negotiators who understand their contracts.

In conclusion, a coalition is likely to lead to a more efficient negotiation process that can benefit everyone involved, including consumers and other constituents who may be affected by the outcome. Win-win negotiations can be achieved more easily by using a coalition.

What All Of This Means For You

Not every negotiation that we’ll find ourselves involved in will be easy. In fact, there are a number of negotiating situations that can be very difficult to deal with. One such situation occurs when we find ourselves preparing to negotiate with someone who we believe has more power than we do. In a situation like this, we need to find a way to increase the amount of power that we can bring to the negotiating table. The good news is that this can be done. What we need to be willing to do is to form a coalition.

Using a coalition in a negotiation can have a number of benefits. One such benefit occurs when a negotiator wants to strike the same deal with a collection of parties. He is facing the challenge of having to conduct multiple negotiations if the parties can’t come together and create a coalition that can simplify the negotiation process. Likewise, if a negotiator wants to increase their bargaining power in a negotiation, they can team up with other negotiators who are in a similar situation and create a coalition to negotiate with a stronger party. Doing this provides a negotiator with more information and makes the negotiating process more efficient.

Negotiators need to understand that they don’t always have to go it alone. In situations where they feel that there would be power in numbers, they can band together with other parties, create a coalition, and then go into a negotiation with more power than they would have by themselves. By doing this, they have a better chance of being able to get the deal that they are looking for.

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

Question For You: Do you think that there should be a limit to the number of parties that are included in a coalition?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Negotiator Blog is updated.
P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Negotiator Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Let’s face it, trust in negotiations may develop naturally over time; however, we rarely have the luxury of letting nature take its course. Thus it sometimes seems easiest for us to play it safe with cautious deals involving few tradeoffs, few concessions, and little information sharing between parties. But avoiding risk during a negotiation can mean missing out on significant opportunities. For this reason, fostering trust on the fly using your negotiation styles and negotiating techniques is a critical skill for negotiators. The first step to inspiring trust in negotiations is to for you to demonstrate trustworthiness. The big question is just exactly how do you go about doing this?