Five Negotiating Ethics Principals That Will Make You A Better Negotiator

Ethics will make you a better negotiator
Ethics will make you a better negotiator Image Credit: SonnyandSandy

When we enter into a negotiation, often we are not thinking about ethics. Yes, yes – we know that ethics are important, but we are focused on getting the best deal and we’ll worry about ethics later on. However, it turns out that this might not the best approach. If we are willing to spend some time thinking about ethics earlier on in our next negotiation, it might help us to use our negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to reach a better deal with the other side. What we need to know is what we have to be considering in order to create an ethical deal that both sides can live with.

  • Ethical Principle 1. Reciprocity: Would I want others to treat me or someone close to me this way during a negotiation?
  • Ethical Principle 2. Publicity: Would I be comfortable if my actions were fully and fairly described in my hometown newspaper?
  • Ethical Principle 3. Trusted friend: Would I be comfortable telling my best friend, spouse, or children what I am doing during this negotiation?
  • Ethical Principle 4. Universality: Would I advise anyone else in my situation to act this way during a negotiation?
  • Ethical Principle 5. Legacy: Does this negotiation action reflect how I want to be known and remembered?

Incorporating Ethics Into Negotiating

We need to understand that doing the right thing sometimes means that we must accept a known cost. However, in the long run, doing the wrong thing may be even more costly. When two people share the same motivation during a negotiation, they may commit the same mistakes and reinforce each other’s failures. During a negotiation when one or both sides are withholding information an impasse can result. In cases like this, it helps to be aware of if you’re negotiating with a fellow individualist or a fellow cooperator. Your goal should be to overcome the inherent flaws of your orientation.

Trust in a negotiation takes time to develop. The problem that we face during a negotiation is that we rarely have time to build strong relationships with the other side so instead a cautious approach is undertaken in order to protect ourselves from a bad deal. Negotiators need to understand that there is an argument for taking risks during a negotiation with a counterpart that you do not know. We also have to understand that this this risk-taking approach comes with both benefits and pitfalls.

Not all of the negotiations what we will be involved in will be successful. After we are involved in a failed negotiation, it’s tempting to construct a story about how the other side’s irrationality led to impasse. However, such stories will not resurrect the deal. You need to ‘debias’ your own behavior by identifying the assumptions that may be clouding your judgment. Negotiators need to be aware of a number of judgment biases – common, systematic errors in thinking that are likely to affect our decisions and harm our outcomes in a negotiation.

Negotiators have to be aware of a variety of psychological biases that can affect negotiators, many of which spring from a reliance on our intuition. Of course, negotiators may not always affected by bias. We can often think systematically and clearly at the bargaining table. Most negotiators think that they are capable of distinguishing between situations in which they can safely rely on intuition from those that require more careful thought. However, it turns out that often they are often wrong. In fact, most negotiators trust our intuition more than the evidence suggests that they should

What All Of This Means For You

Ethics may not be something that a lot of negotiators give a lot of thought to. However, it turns out that ethics can play a big role in the types of deals that we are able to reach with the other side. What this means for us as negotiators is that we need to be aware of the role that ethical decision making can play in our next principled negotiation.

A key thing to keep in mind when you are involved in a negotiation is that there are five guiding principles of ethical negotiating. Doing the right thing during a negotiation is not always easy – it may end up costing us. We’d like to be able to develop a sense of trust in every negotiation that we participate in. Some of our negotiations will fail. When this happens, we need to take the time to understand what assumptions we are operating under. We may be affected by psychological bias. Even if we think these are not guiding our decision making, they may be.

As negotiators we want to be known as being ethical negotiators. In order to make this happen, we need to be willing to abide by the principles of ethical negotiating. Additionally, we need to understand that our decision making has to be guided by principles that will allow us to work well with others. If we can master all of these negotiating techniques then we can reach successful ethical deals with the other side.

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

Question For You: What’s the best way to determine if we are meeting the negotiating ethical standards?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Going into a negotiation can often seem like going into battle. We put on our armor, we make sure that our weapons are sharp, then we mount up and enter into the negotiating room. With this kind of mindset, you can understand just how much pressure a negotiator can feel as they begin a negotiation. The problem with feeling this way is that when we are under a great deal of pressure, the way that we go about making decisions can change. As negotiators we need to understand this and then we need to take steps to make sure that we can still make good decisions, even when we are under pressure.