Lecture to 3rd year medical students at the Kulliyah of Medicine, International Islamic University, Malaysia 2nd September 2000 by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr.




Negotiations are pervasive: Leaders spend a lot of their time in negotiations. Daily life, public or private, revolves around negotiating with others. You may not even be conscious of being involved in negotiations. Most major decisions, private and public, are not unilateral. They involve negotiations with others to reach an acceptable consensus.


Purposes of negotiations: Negotiation is necessary to protect your interests, and get as much advantage as possible without entering into costly and bruising confrontations. Most conflicts can be resolved through negotiation. Good negotiation turns confrontation into cooperation.


Learning negotiation skills: Negotiation skills can be learned. They can be improved by experience and discussions with experienced negotiators.


What is win-win negotiation?: Negotiations can be win-win in which each party leaves satisfied or win-lose in which one party leaves with a feeling of winning and the other leaves with a feeling of having lost. A win-win outcome is the best in a negotiation. It ensures that each party gets the maximum it can from the transaction, part as friends who can work together again. Both objectives and relations be considered. Future relationships may be lost by aggressive pursuit of objectives. Win-win negotiation requires avoiding stereotyping the other party. Such stereotypes confuse your judgment. Win-win negotiation requires avoiding extremes. The just equilibrium is the way to negotiate. Win-win negotiation is joint problem-solving; the alternative is power negotiation using threats, intimidation, and other power tactics that will end in deadlock. Win-win negotiation focuses on positive solutions. It aims at reaching an agreement satisfactory to both sides by a process that is as painless as possible. Satisfaction could be achieved even if one party has through miscalculation compromised its interests. It is all well as long as they are not aware of their mistake.


Elements of win-win negotiation: Win-win negotiation has the following elements: separating people from the problem, looking at interests and not positions, creating options for mutual gain, getting all parties to use objective criteria, enough time to prepare for and carry out negotiations, and optimum circumstances under which negotiation is carried. The focus should be on solving problems and not on personalities. Interests and not positions should be defended. A negotiating position can be given up or changed without giving up your interests. Options for mutual gains should be vigorously explored. Win-win negotiators concentrate on objective criteria. A win-win outcome in negotiations requires enough time to prepare so that decisions and moves are well-studied and are not emotional reactions.


Alternative to win-win: If you are not interested in a win-win outcome, you have the liberty not to negotiate at all and to use other approaches to solving the problem.




Negotiation strategy: Negotiating is strategy. You must have either an equilibrium or dominant strategy. If your strategy is dominated you will lose your interests. Since negotiation is strategy, never enter a negotiation unless you have a well worked out strategy and a clear objective. You should know your bottom-line from the beginning. You could change it upwards but never downwards. You should always have your worst-case scenario well worked out. You must take enough time to plan your negotiating strategy. Identify what is non-negotiable for you and the other party. Ask yourself whether you or they can afford a deadlock? What are your and their alternatives in case of a deadlock? You must not give away your strategy by careless talk.  You can be truthful without divulging secrets. When pressed, it is better to say 'no comment' or non-disclosure of confidential information.

Understanding the other side: A key to good negotiation is to be able to understand the other party's negotiation strategy from the start of the negotiation. You should get as much information as possible about the negotiating party and their organization. Try to assess the other side's negotiation style: aggressive, cooperative, emotional etc. The other side may have hidden agendas. You must look for clues to uncover and understand them.


Understanding the validity of others’ arguments: Mature negotiators acknowledge the strong and valid points of the other side and convince them that they understand their point of view. Understanding does not imply acceptance but goes a long way toward a win-win outcome.


Wise use of negotiation power: A powerful negotiator can walk away in a deadlock and not lose much. He has alternative ways of securing his interests. He is patient and has no deadlines. He has a right sense of timing and is a good listener. It is possible to use both power and persuasion. Never forget that power by itself can not get you to a settlement. It only helps prevent break-off of negotiations. Power should be used only to make it hard for the other party to say no. The other party must be 'helped' to see reality. They have to realize what will happen if the negotiations fail. Telling the other party that if agreement is not reached on price the deal will be abandoned is using power to prevent them from saying no to further negotiations. To make them say yes you have to employ the win-win technics. Warn the other party but do not threaten. Warning can be positive as an advance notice. A threat is negative and counter-productive. It will elicit a reaction and complicate everything. Power is better demonstrated than used. Once used it loses all its effect because the other side then retaliates. If power is to be used, it must be used as a last resort. Avoid provocations. If power is to be used, it must be employed in a graduated way. Start with minimum power and increase it incrementally until the desired effect is obtained. Be prepared to neutralize any reactions. In a negotiating situation, you can extend your power by forming coalitions to increase your leverage. You can appeal to third parties to support your position. Whenever you exercise power in a negotiation be careful to leave the other party a way out. You are likely to achieve your objectives this way with minimum effort.


Win-win vs win-lose: You have to be very careful in using a win-lose formula in negotiations. It can work only if you have a decisive advantage in power and if future relationships do not matter (a rare combination). Win-lose situations often end up as lose-lose to the detriment of both parties. It is advisable aim at a win-win outcome even if you can get away with a win-lose outcome. This is to avoid potential problems and bad feelings in the future. You should always remember that there are risks associated with winning in a confrontational negotiation situation. You may win the battle and lose the war. Future opportunities may be forfeited by winning in a way that leaves behind scars that can not heal.


Rationality and objectivity: Never allow negotiations to wander from rationality. Justify your positions all along and require the others to do the same.


Interests and concessions: Each negotiation has a mixture of compatible and incompatible interests. There will be no negotiations at all if the parties involved have nothing compatible at all; if there is no common ground to start from. Every negotiation involves making concessions and compromises, otherwise there is no rationale for starting negotiating at all. Direct conflict or avoidance may be the other alternatives. A successful negotiator should plan to achieve set objectives while making concessions and compromises on issues of no consequence to him but may be important for the other party. Negotiation is finally a refinement of the ancient art of tit for tat. If good faith is shown and the other party responds likewise, more good faith can be shown. If the response is negative, it is matched and some concession given earlier can be withdrawn.


Privacy: Difficult negotiations with a potential for conflict or even deadlock should always be conducted in private. Parties not directly involved should not be informed. Negotiators who have to consider public reactions to the negotiations may resort to irrational positions that will ruin negotiations that could have succeeded.


Negotiation handicap: In a negotiating situation each party has a handicap that can be exploited by the other party: what will be lost if no agreement is reached?, how much can it afford to wait?. A good negotiator always works out the worst-case scenario. Among the handicaps are: lack of time, deadlines, etc


Patience and time in negotiations: Patience is power; the most patient party usually wins. Patient negotiators are more calm, and relaxed. They take their time and control the negotiation process. You may be under pressure of a deadline in some cases, never disclose the fact to the other negotiating party. They will try to force you into concessions you do not want. You should never negotiate in haste, however be aware of prolonged never-ending negotiations. They may wear you out mentally so that you end up making concessions that you should not have made.


Multi-issue negotiations: Simultaneous negotiation over several issues at the same time increases the possibility of a compromise because one party may make concessions on some issues it does not value very highly while the other party does the same for other issues.


Brinkmanship: You should be careful about the use of brinkmanship or bluffs. They lead to disaster in most negotiating situations. When faced with an ultimatum, do not be hasty in responding. Try to probe and understand how serious it is. What are the underlying circumstances. What would happen if you called the bluff?



Pressure tactics: The other party may employ pressure tactics against you such as stonewalling, direct and personal attacks, ticks, and intimidation. Do not strike back, give in, or break off negotiations. You should recognize the provoking action. Stop to think and if possible ask for the session to be adjourned. Do not get angry and do not make any hasty decisions on the spot. Exercise self-control and self-restraint. Often the other party just wants to provoke you so that you may make a fool of yourself. The following pressure tactics can be used against you: intimidation, kid-glove, good-guy/bad-guy combination, invisible authority, erosion of your confidence, stonewalling, deception, provocation and emotions, anger, and personal attacks


Intimidation: Intimidation is never a good negotiation tactic. If the other party intimidates you, do not react to them by appearing to be intimidated or replying in kind. Ignore the intimidation. It will lose its impact. In case of intimidation, stick to the issues being negotiated. Do not discuss the threat. Assess your vulnerability to the threat so that you may study the best response. Always stick to objective criteria and do not get emotional.


Kid-glove: The other party may use a kid-glove approach giving you an unfavorable deal that is sweetened. Consider your values and long-term interests before responding.


Good-guy/bad-guy combination: The other party may present the good guy/bad guy scenario. One of the party may be outwardly hostile while the other one pretends to be friendly and on your side. Recognize the tactic and tell them that you understand what they are about. Then go back to objective negotiations.


Invisible authority: Your negotiating partner may hide behind a higher authority. You reach a deal and he claims that he has to consult his superiors. This can be prevented by establishing at the start of the negotiations whether they have authority to negotiate. You can also use this tactic in reverse. Also hide behind an authority even an imaginary one.


Stone walling: Stone-walling occurs when the other party claims no flexibility and starts foot-dragging. Tell them you understand that they are using this tactic. Test the stickability of the stone-wall; if it is not firm just ignore it. If it is relatively firm, either try to get around the stone-wall or behave as if it did not occur and just continue negotiating. Try to reinterpret the stone-wall as an aspiration and not a firm irrevocable stand. Continue negotiating calmly.


Deception: When you think there is deception or false information, ask questions to clarify. Expose the trick. Try to turn tricks to your advantage. Avoid discussing new information that looks suspect.


Erosion of your confidence: When the other party tries to erode your confidence and credibility, to dot react. Just emphasize objectivity.


Provocations and emotions: You may be provoked into a negative reaction by an opponent. Guard against this. Always keep your calm and objectivity. Never lose sight of your objectives in a fit of temper. You may become emotional without any provocation. Admit the fact at least to yourself so that you may deal with it objectively. Try to return to objectivity. Focus on the future and positive results. Listen more and try to be objective. If you can express your emotional feelings factually do so; this acts as an emotional release. If the other party becomes emotional, ask them to justify their position rationally. Encourage them to communicate their emotional feelings. Empathize with them and do not react in like manner.


Anger: In case of anger aimed at intimidating you, listen to them. Acknowledge their feelings. Verbalize agreement with them without conceding your point of view. Do not reject their emotionally-expressed views; reframe them as a problem requiring solution. Treat them with respect even if they are making fools of themselves. Express your views while avoiding any further provocation.


Personal attacks: Ignore personal attacks and do not become defensive. Treat them as attacks on the problem and not on you. Reframe hostile personal attacks as friendly ones and make joke about them. Change pronouns from 'you' and 'me' to 'we'. Stick to discussing the merits of the issues. Criticize ideas and not the people who propound them. Reframe past wrongs as future remedies.


Risks in negotiation: There are risks in negotiations. You can never be sure that the other side is negotiating in good faith. You can not be sure that they will be honest in keeping the terms agreed on. You must guard against treachery and prepare for broken promises. In case of treachery be prompt in disowning the agreement that had been reached. Never be deceived twice by the same party. A believer is taken for only one ride and he learns from it.


Incremental approach: Do not throw play all your cards at once. Always keep some cards or negotiation chips in reserve for the last stages. They may salvage a deal beneficial to you. Avoid careless talk after the deal is reached but is not yet signed. You may introduce an idea or a dimension that can spoil everything. If possible never conclude a negotiation in one session. Give yourself time to think about the best compromise that has been reached by asking the other party to give you time to get approval from your superiors or colleagues.


Follow-up and implementation: Before entering into negotiations, you should take time to think about the follow-up steps after conclusion of negotiations. This will guide your negotiating strategy.




Commitment to negotiations: If you have a vested interest in the success of the negotiations, set the ball rolling and make sure the process moves along. The other party is less likely to walk away from the table after investing time and energy in the process.


Personal relations: Any opportunity to build personal relations with negotiating partners should be used. Examples include: receiving them at the airport, a dinner, a breakfast etc.


Self discipline and self-control: You must be very self-disciplined at all times when you are with the other party to the negotiations. Such discipline will save you from costly mistakes. Discipline yourself to listen to the other party without interruption. isten more; talk less. Listen without interruption; you will get valuable information and insights that will save you from costly mistakes.  Do not react to statements before analyzing them. Do not be hasty in reaching conclusions.


Atmosphere: The atmosphere of the negotiations determines the outcome. It is easier to negotiate as friends in a cooperative atmosphere rather as enemies in a competitive atmosphere. In a cooperative atmosphere there is open communication, free and honest exchange of views and information, emphasis on compatibilities, reducing the scope of incompatibilities, and mutual problem solving.  In a competitive atmosphere there is hostility, suspicion, escalation of conflict, a determination by each party to win all, and little communication.


Negotiators: Not everybody can negotiate well. The negotiators must be selected very carefully to ensure success. It is a mistake to assume that the leader or head must lead the negotiation team even if incompetent in negotiations. Negotiations can take place between 2 individuals, between groups, or between an individual and a group. Sometimes a third party is brought into the negotiation as a mediator, arbitrator, conciliator, or consultant. Negotiating in a team has advantages over negotiating as an individual. The team has more patience, is less susceptible to pressure tactics, can draw on a wider and specialized expertise. The disadvantages of team negotiating are that team negotiations can be prolonged. Coordination is difficult to achieve. The formalistic impersonal nature of team negotiations makes reaching agreement more difficult than the informal personal atmosphere of two individuals negotiating. To succeed in team negotiation, you must have a strong leader. Prior consensus must be reached on negotiating positions. Roles of speaking on particular issues or defending particular points must be assigned to individuals according to their specialization and ability. A rehearsal may make the process smoother. During the negotiations, the team must present a 'united front' so that the other party does not succeed in splitting the team and getting its members to argue against one another.


Preparing for a negotiation session: The actual negotiation session should be planned as much as possible. Never leave anything to chance. Role playing is useful. You may actually act out the probable behavior of all participants to the negotiations. Never be surprised at the negotiation table. You must be prepared for any eventuality so that you do not react emotionally but you react according to a well-studied strategy.


Background for negotiations: Background information is everything in negotiations. Never enter any negotiations without first making research and gathering the relevant information. Collect relevant information about the issue being negotiated, the negotiating party, and yourself, weaknesses and strengths.


Planning a strategy: Identify objective standards that can be used to settle issues to everybody's satisfaction. List what are satisfactory solutions for you. List what are satisfactory solutions for other party. List interests: yours vs theirs.

List limitations: yours vs theirs.

List options: yours vs theirs

List impact(s) of suggested solution(s): on you vs them

Role play, pretend you are the other party

Work out worst case scenario: for you vs other party

Identify what is non-negotiable: for you vs them

Identify alternative(s) to negotiation: for you vs them

Assess whether a deadlock can be afforded?: by you vs by them

Identify alternatives in case of deadlock: yours vs them

Make a conscious decision to negotiate

Plan the actual negotiation session

Plan follow-up to the negotiation

Finally write  a ‘worry’ list of what could go wrong



Phases of a negotiation session: A negotiation session has the following main stages: setting the agenda, opening the negotiations, demands and offers, narrowing differences between the parties, final bargaining, persuading the other party to cross the last hurdle to agreement, and implementation of the negotiated deal.


Setting agenda: What to negotiate and how to negotiate


Opening the negotiation: Start by identifying issues of common concern and perhaps agreement. This helps relax people and build confidence before the more difficult issues are tackled. The common sense to let the other party speak first in order to identify their strategy is not always applicable. There are situations when you should speak first and state your position. This will give you an opportunity to 'anchor' the negotiations by providing information or positions that others respond to and do not raise other issues that you do not want discussed. Making an opening offer is not as risky as many negotiators may have you believe. If you have a clear strategy, and well worked out contingencies, an opening offer lets you decide most of the parameters of the subsequent discussions. Human being are inclined to react to an idea on the table rather than be creative and bring up a new idea. The opening offer should not so substantial that it reveals your whole strategy.


Demands and offers: Outline issues objectively. Listen to other party's reaction; do not interrupt


Narrowing differences: Discuss differences in perception of issues. Ask the other party to state their solution alternatives. Offer your solution and show its benefits for both parties


Final bargaining technics for win-win outcome: Splitting the difference is trying to make every side mke concessions so that you may meet in the middle. Using fair or objective standards to settle the issue. You can shift  positions as long as the overall objective is to be achieved. Ask the right questions to create options for consensus such as why?, why not?, what if?, what do you advise?


Persuade other party to cross the last hurdle to agreement: Start from their position and move them to agreement. Include their ideas in your proposals. Ask for and build on some of their ideas. Ask them for constructive criticism of your ideas. Offer alternatives to choose from. Identify and satisfy unmet needs such as esteem, respect, security. There is no reason for the negotiations failing for such matters that are not of strategic significance to you. Look for and give low-cost high benefit concessions, this requires that you have a clear strategy that helps you identify what is a low-cost concession. Get them to give conditional agreement such as ‘if...then..’ and build on that to reach agreement by fulfilling or agreeing to the condition. Help other side save face so that agreement on substantial issues can be achieved with minimum pain to them and to your entire satisfaction. Use a third party to propose the final solution so that it is easier to accept. Use fair standards that are objective and are accepted universally so that the other party does not feel that you imposed a solution. Give the other party credit for success of negotiations. Praise in a genuine way any contribution they make however small towards a solution. Go slowly and incrementally. Make step-by-step small requests. Do not move to the next until the preceding one has been granted or some promise is made to grant it. Do do not ask for final commitment until the end when the whole deal has been worked out. Once the deal is completed, avoid any further discussions because that could lead to change of mind and destruction of all what has been achieved


Think about implementation of negotiated deal during the negotiation: Minimize risks in the deal.  Include dispute-resolution procedures in the final deal. Preserve post-negotiation relationships; remember this is not the last encounter and the negotiated deal has still to be implemented. Aim at mutual satisfaction and not outright





Deadlock is natural: Deadlocked negotiations are natural. There are issues that are clearly stated by the Qur'an or the sunnah that are not negotiable. What is wrong is to deadlock on trivial inconsequential issues. Negotiations may become dead-locked on either procedural matters or substantial negotiation issues.


Both parties desire a deadlock: There are situations in which one or both parties to a negotiation know that there is no common ground and that the negotiations will fail. They enter negotiations either under pressure from a third party or to explore any weaknesses in the opponent that could be exploited in a more aggressive interaction. Some parties enter into a negotiation to deliver an ultimatum, generally expected to be rejected but they may be pleasantly surprised by a submission.


Lessons from deadlocks: Even deadlocked negotiation are useful, you can learn valuable lessons from them that can help in later negotiations.


Barriers to successful negotiation: The following are barriers to successful negotiations: a negative attitude to negotiations such as a win-lose stance, poor communication skills, lack of knowledge,  lack of confidence in negotiations,  fear of confrontation,  being emotional and not being objective,  being reactive,  treating the other party as adversaries who must lose, and aggressive behavior


Causes of deadlock: A dead-lock may result from personal factors such as an inflated ego. It may be due to poor negotiation technic. There are some issues that are non-negotiable for one of the parties and introducing them into the negotiations rapidly leads to a deadlock.


Anticipating and planning for deadlock: As a strategic negotiator you should never be surprised by a deadlock. You should have anticipated it from the beginning and should have planned a contingency strategy.


What to do in case of deadlock: You must decide from the beginning whether you can afford to walk away from the negotiating table. If you can, you are in a very strong negotiating position. If you can not, never allow negotiations to proceed to a deadlock because you may then be forced to walk away from the negotiation table and you can not afford it, or you may reveal your handicap and weakness and be forced to make concessions you would have never made for the sake of saving the negotiations. If it is in your interests to continue the negotiations, devise ways and means of getting around a dead-lock. Stay calm and keep negotiating. You have to change the rules of the game or reframe issues. Consider all alternatives and look for options. Utilize maximum flexibility but never lose sight of the final goals and your permanent interests. Stick to objectivity. Stay calm. Avoid ego complications, yours and those of the other party.



Chapter overview: This chapter will discuss advanced technics for complicated negotiations. These are negotiations that involve more than one issue, are multi-stage, involve both win-win and deadlock elements, and also involve force and threats before a final conclusion is reached.


Starting a complicated negotiation: It is advisable to start a difficult negotiation by something light, relaxing, and calming for all part in order to break the ice. Too high an initial tension augurs badly for the whole process. Difficult negotiations may have to start with negotiations about negotiations ie setting and agreeing on the rules of the game.

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. August 2000