Multi-party Negotiations and Applicable Strategies

Complex negotiations are becoming commonplace. The complexity of our negotiations increases with the number of parties involved. Our ability to deal with these negotiations involving multiple parties significantly impacts our success.

There are multiple types of negotiations. Among these, the most common negotiations are the standard two-party negotiation (where the negotiation has two parties) and the multi-party negotiation (where there are multiple parties in the negotiation). As per experience, one in three negotiations is multi-party negotiations.

Multi-party negotiations are complex due to the number of parties and related issues and the impact of increased styles and behaviours. This article will discuss multi-party negotiations and the strategies that apply to them.

– Whereas in a two-party negotiation, the parties can quickly come together and discuss each other’s interests, in a multi-party negotiation, the interests of all the parties need to be considered while preparing for and engaging in the negotiation. The number of issues brought to the table increases proportionately with the number of stakeholders. The interests of multiple parties might conflict, so these situations need to be addressed tactfully.

– In a multi-party negotiation, solutions should align with the interests of all parties. This is critical for the success of the negotiation. Often, the interests of all parties might not be fulfilled, but creative solutions can help achieve the majority of the interests. In this case, clear communication of all criteria will help the parties understand the challenges and results of the negotiation. It would be helpful to highlight to the parties that they have come together for one overarching objective that can be accomplished with flexibility and an open mindset. A typical example of this is a project manager who deals with multiple stakeholders. The project manager needs to arrive at solutions that help all stakeholders achieve their respective objectives. However, it is likely that some of the interests will not be satisfied. So the project manager should be able to articulate the justifications and highlight how the final solutions will help achieve the organization’s objective.

It is vital in a multi-party negotiation not to finalize any solutions without all the parties’ support and approval. Only the outcomes that are fully approved should be announced. This is because you do not want to announce an outcome while one of the stakeholders disagrees with it.

– Here’s a trick to deal with multi-party negotiations – Convert the negotiation into two-party. Sometimes, aligning the solutions via negotiations with each party outside of the primary negotiation might help gain the stakeholders’ support. Mini negotiations help toward accomplishing the desired results in a bigger negotiation.

– In this day of negotiations across multiple cultures and regions, it is vital to bear in mind the culture of the parties if the parties are from different cultures. The success of the negotiation would depend on careful consideration of the cultural influence on the negotiation. Bear in mind that complexity also increases with the parties in multiple locations worldwide as the element of remote negotiations is in play.

Dee Hock, Founder and CEO Emeritus of Visa, brought together multiple banks and associations worldwide under one single organization that resulted in the formation of Visa, which transformed business and payment across the world. It is intriguing how multiple parties across different regions and cultures with several differences could be brought together under one umbrella. This is the power of multi-party negotiations.

It is evident that multiple parties increase the complexity of a negotiation. Complexity implies that additional factors and aspects are in play. In these situations, effective results are achievable through a structured approach, creative solutions, and focus on achieving the objectives of all the parties individually and as a whole. Power negotiators consider all available information to develop negotiation strategies that help achieve success by addressing the complexity.

~ Anuj Jagannathan, CEO, Propelurs Consulting

Negotiation is a skill that could be difficult to master, but not impossible! Get insights on how some of the best business deals were successfully closed, via real-world industry examples that are taught in leadership and management courses by Emeritus.

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