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11.5.4 The main steps to follow in any negotiation

  • Prepare - define what you want, and anticipate what the other party wants. Work out what you are prepared to concede and decide what information you will give. Decide on a strategy and set the climate for the negotiation.
  • Debate and propose - not aggressively or to point score, but constructively. Establish facts, clarify attitudes and test assumptions. Identify points of agreement and points of disagreement. Use incentives to reach agreement (e.g. "the benefits of reaching agreement are..."), and reveal the implications of not agreeing. State what you propose clearly by outlining your objective. The proposal should be as close to the other party's desired position as you can estimate, but be realistic. If they offer a proposal hear them out to the end without interruption. Tell them what parts of their proposal are acceptable and what parts are not, and the reasons why this is so.
  • Modify - look for signals, verbal, non-verbal, deliberate or unconscious, that the other party is willing to modify their position. Make your best offer clear and then see if the other party is willing to concede anything.
  • Package - this offers nothing new, but presents the components of the negotiation in a way that is more in line with the other party's interests. You should be able to modify the proposal without conceding further points, but keeping it acceptable to all parties involved.
  • Bargain - this stage involves the direct trade off of concessions from both sides. Keep a careful note of all concessions made as the more concession you make the stronger your negotiating position will be. Make all offers conditional. For example "If you......., then I will......" or "If you want me to......, then you must.....". Establish the value of your concessions to the other party, and the value of their concessions to you. In terms of overpayment recovery, making concessions is not about compromising the recovery of the actual overpayment, but providing alternative options for recovery. For example, the partial recovery of the overpayment via a lump sum and the remainder via limitation of pension.
  • Close - it should now be possible to resolve any outstanding issues and secure an agreement. This can be achieved by both parties making final concessions.
  • Agree - recording the agreement is vital to ensure that there is no misunderstanding on what was finally agreed upon or to. Therefore all agreements made at interview should be made in writing. If the agreement was reached over the phone, written confirmation should be provided to the client without delay.