Often, business negotiations are seen as similar to sports games. In such an approach, negotiations are treated as win-lose scenarios, in which each side holds a position that must be defended. However, business negotiations can also serve the interests of all parties involved. In this model of negotiation, the different negotiators do not function as competing teams with conflicting interests, but rather as partners working toward a common objective. Businesses negotiate toward the common goal of a deal that suits the needs of both sides. This is called principled negotiation, and it’s especially useful for longtime business partners.
Narrator: Now, listen to a lecture on this topic in a business class.
Professor: You can see the effects of principled negotiation right at this university, actually. We have—um—a private company running our cafeteria, right? The university pays the company to buy food, hire employees, and serve meals to the students. When they drafted the contract outlining the, uhh, their expectations, the university and the food service company had to think about their future together… and how they could keep students happy. Only if the students were satisfied would the relationship be able to continue smoothly—that was the common goal.
So, at the company’s request, the university agreed to fund training the cafeteria workers, precisely because they saw that training as being in the best interest of the students, even if the direct benefit was for the food service employees and uhh, it was coming out of the university’s pocket.
And at the same time, the food service provider agreed to buy and serve only organic foods… ingredients that cost more, but are healthier for student diners. If the food service had refused to buy those higher quality ingredients, it’s more likely that students would have passed on meal plans or worse, requested the university find a different service. Obviously, the company’d want to avoid that. In the long run, these kinds of decisions were in line with everybody’s goals—especially you, the students.
Narrator: Using the example of the university cafeteria, explain what is meant by principled negotiation.
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