In this step effective negotiators jointly develop the standards of Legitimacy – objectives standards, external criteria, a fair process, etc. – that will help all parties involved in the negotiation defend the agreement once it is achieved. When it comes to Legitimacy, your best friends are questions like, “Why?” and “Based on what?” you should avoid suggestions like, "How about we just split it?”
Sometimes the leader as negotiator begins in the Circle with a conversation about standards that contribute to Legitimacy, knowing it may be easier to jointly define evaluating criteria before any Options have been put on the table.
Based on the Interests identified, engage your counterpart in the joint activity of brainstorming possible Options.
Skilled negotiators generate and capture many Options (no matter which they might like or dislike). modify their thinking and, therefore, the solution. They also make it clear that these Options are not offers and that they are not yet looking for reactions or Commitments.
Leaders who are skilled negotiators are open to learning and often even eager to find that the other party might have a useful idea or perspective that can result in additional insights and Options.
While managing the elements of Communication and Relationship are necessary to get into the Circle, the elements of Alternatives and Commitment are used after maximizing time inside the Circle. It is here that the negotiator makes the choice between agreement and waking away. Be skilled in:Pursuing discussions as long as there is a chance of reaching an agreement better than your BATNAReality testing your counterpart's BATNAUsing any discussion about Alternatives as an opportunity to learn more about unmet InterestsRevealing your BATNA when it’s better than your counterpart thinks
To get into the Circle in the first place, and often to remain in the Circle throughout the negotiation, you will need to manage two other elements (Relationship and Communication). You must manage the negotiations process and develop a complete understanding of your counterpart, with your counterpart.Negotiating explicitly over the process of the negotiationAsking questions that elicit important informationActively listening with a purposeBuilding mutual understanding through attention to the story your counterpart tells himself or herself that acts as a foundation for his or her perceptions
The process is not linear, but iterative. Effective negotiators move from Options back to Interests. For example, take a moment to ask your counterpart why he or she likes one Option better than another, listening carefully for any new Interests that might be revealed. Alternatively, use the power of criticism by throwing out an idea he has labelled as “a little crazy” and ask “what would be wrong with this?”
As your counterpart responds, listen for Interests that come back in the form of criticism. For example, if you really press for the criticism, you might hear back, “That would take too long to implement, I could never defend this decision to my constituents, I would not have enough left over to work on X, it would put Y in jeopardy, and I would not have the time or resources to begin planning for Z.” Your counterpart has revealed a goldmine of Interests (at least five in this example).
Make Process COMMITMENTS Early
and Substantive COMMITMENTS Late
Skilled negotiators leave Commitments to the end. They do not toss out offers or asks, and they do not encourage their counterpart to do so. They work hard to uncover Interests, to develop multiple possible Options with their counterpart, and to jointly refine and evaluate these Options. Here you must be skilled at:Committing early to the process of negotiating and postponing substantive CommitmentsBeing sure to summarize and document progressConsulting with appropriate constituents before making any final CommitmentsEnsuring Commitments you and your counterpart make are sufficient, realistic, and operational
The Circle of Value
Having developed a series of possible Options, skilled negotiators turn next to working with their counterpart to define what standards of Legitimacy might be used to refine and begin to evaluate certain Options.
Click on any of the elements of the circle (boxes or red arrows) to learn more.
Or use the arrow(s) below to cycle through the full process.
Build the working RELATIONSHIP
on its own merits
To effectively get and remain in the Circle, it is important not only to manage how Communication occurs, but also to develop and sustain a solid, if not strong, working Relationship. Building understanding is half the equation, building trust is the other.Taking an unconditionally constructive approachTaking a two-track approach by separating substantive issues from Relationship issuesBeing “soft on people"Exploring joint contribution when something goes wrong
Getting at core Interests takes hard work. Skilled negotiators keep digging, listening, testing, and clarifying until they truly understand the needs, aims, objectives, fears, and concerns of their counterpart. To do this, you can use a variety of possible approaches:
Make it a bilateral discussion, sharing many of your own Interests to capture what you and your counterpart value. Your best friend is the question “why?” and your biggest enemy is the question “what do you want?” The former uncovers Interests. The latter elicits positions.
THE CIRCLE OF VALUE:
NEGOTIATING WITH DISCIPLINE
Truly expert negotiators can juggle all of the Seven Elements, making careful choices about how they use each element while ensuring that each element works together to achieve the desired outcomes. The core focus of the leader as negotiator is to get into the “Circle of Value”. It is in the circle that value is both created and distributed (in that order, although often iteratively). Inside the Circle are the elements Interests, Options, and Legitimacy. Taking what is often called a “principled” or “congruent” approach to negotiation, the leader can move strategically among these three elements and achieve the outcomes they desire.