Negotiation:  A Deeper Understanding

Would you agree that whatever is our status in life, no matter what age, sex inclination, religious beliefs, and in whatever walks of life, we experienced negotiation one way or another?

Negotiation is not just a topic discussed in the study of Public Administration but it is one truth in our lives that we deal with even no matter how simple one’s life is or how basic things are done in the workplace or at home.

So, let me walk you through today on another topic of Public Administration as a theory and as a subject of research and presentations on the said course based on books (e.g.  Human Behavior in Organization by Roberto G. Medina, Ph.D.), Wikipedia and other sources.  Afterwards, allow me also to give you ideas or examples how we apply such theories consciously or unconsciously into our dealings with other people.  This topic is in line with my discussion last week about Executive Decision Making (http://wp.me/p8f1bw-1O).

So, what is negotiation?

Negotiation, according to BusinessDictionary.com, is a bargaining (give and take) process between two or more parties (each with its own aims, needs, and viewpoints) seeking to discover a common ground and reach an agreement to settle a matter of mutual concern or resolve a conflict.

There are two major approaches to negotiation (Robbins and Judge, p.58; Human Behavior in Organization by Roberto G. Medina, Ph.D., p. 249):

  1. Distributive Bargaining -“The Fixed Pie” approach;  the goals of the parties are in conflict, and each party seeks to maximize its share of the resources.  This win-lose approach is really a process of dividing or “distributing” scarce resources. 
  2. Integrative Negotiation          Everybody Wins Something (usually); described as the win-win scenario; the focus is on making it possible for both sides to achieve their objectives; usually involves a higher degree of trust and a forming of a long-term relationship to create mutual gain.

There are three basic elements of negotiation:

  1. Process refers to how the parties negotiate:  the context of the negotiations, the parties to the negotiations, the tactics used by the parties, and the sequence and the stages in which all of these play out.  Refer to the Negotiation Process presented on the image below.
    Edit
  2. Behavior refers to the relationships among the parties, the communication between them and the styles they adopt. 
  3. Substance refers to what the parties negotiate over:  the agenda, the issues (positions and – more helpfully – interests), the options, and the agreement (s) reached at the end.

There are also five negotiation styles:  

  1. Competitive Style involves forcing others to accept one’s view.  Can take many forms, including authoritative mandate, challenges, arguing, insults, accusations, complaining, vengeance, and even physical violence (Morril, 1995).
  2. Avoiding Style adopts a “wait and see” attitude, hoping that problems will solve themselves.  Methods include changing the subject, skip meetings, or even leave the group altogether.
  3. Compromising Style are used by individuals who are eager to close the deal by doing what is fair and equal for all parties involved in the negotiation.
  4. Accommodating Style is a passive but prosocial approach to conflict by giving in to the demands of others for the sake of group unity or in the interest of time.
  5. Collaborating Style involves solving tough problems in creative ways and identifies the issues underlying the dispute and then works together to identify a solution that is satisfying to both sides.

    I am sure by now in your own mind you can identify from your own experience which of them can be classified as to the different negotiation styles you used to a particular situation.  Let me cite a few examples of simple events that may have happened in our lives where we apply the five styles of negotiation.

    First,  would you believe that in playing card games such as poker or even playing mahjong, each player adopts the competitive style? Each player wants to bring the pot money home.  Each will play their cards or tiles close to their chest but will try to pry as much information from the other side.  Each one will try to demoralize the other players so that the others cannot concentrate or play effectively, thus, winning the bet.

    Second, don’t you know that walking out of an argument or changing a topic when it’s getting hot and is more likely to aggravate a situation, either in the office or at home, is adopting the avoiding style?  We usually adopt this kind of attitude especially at home when we get into a misunderstanding with our love ones and we don’t want to say or do things we will regret later on.

    Third, are you aware that haggling with a fish or vegetable vendor for their produce or goods and agreeing on a stated price for these products is a form of adopting the compromising style?  There is a limited time to complete the deal so we just try to haggle as much as they will concede with the thought that we offered and they accepted what is fair and equal for both parties.

    Fourth, do you agree that conceding or accepting the point of views of someone close to you without really being convinced that he/she is correct is using the accommodating style?  This may look like superficial compliance but because we wanted to preserve relationships we give in to them and sometimes, in the process, gets taken advantage of.

    Fifth, would you agree that in this world, nothing is impossible, no hurdles can’t be tackled, no mountains can’t be climbed, no problem remains unsolved if we have that special someone who can hold our hands together, with God’s blessings, to collaborate with?  Try this most ideal style, the collaborating style, in more complex undertakings and find out how effective it can get.

    See?  If you had not realized it before how negotiation plays even in the mundane things we do, think again.  Different situations call for different styles but we should try to bear in mind that there is a lot of advantage in trying to adopt the collaborating style as much as possible, but if it really gets too difficult, try to, at least, settle and agree on a compromise.

    Dear Readers, I hope to receive your comments or your own point of view regarding this topic.

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    Painful Love (Poetry)

    • Love, they say, can move a mountain
    • But love can also cause great pain
    • Yet love is also a healer
    • So love again a lot better.
    • “Love is a many-splendored things”
    • And men should be loving beings
    • But why are there many women
    • Who just get bullied by their men?
    • We ask, how could they let it be?
    • In the name of fidelity?
    • Or would you say for martyrdom
    • That they would forsake their freedom?
    • We’d never ever understand
    • What pain these women withstand
    • We could maybe smirk, huff and scoff
    • We forgot they had it so tough.
    • But, hey, what can we really do
    • If they cannot help themselves too?
    • It’s hard to become a mother
    • Alone, with kids to think over.
    • Painful love, how cruel are you
    • Trapping women, their children too?
    • In a life full of misery,
    • When will you ever set them free?

    Executive Decision Making 

    I am supposed to share with you this Sunday a PowerPoint presentation on the topic but alas, my luck with my internet connection is not holding up well, it seems. So, for now, let me just share with you the pertinent aspects of this topic, excerpts from an article, that I hope readers who are interested on this topic will find a bit helpful on their own research as well.  For my reference, I would like to give credit to whom/where it is due.  Thanks a lot to Sanjeev Swami for sharing such a comprehensive article on “Executive functions and decision making:  A managerial review” (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.iimb.2013.07.005).
    So here goes the excerpts of this article.

    The topic of decision making falls under the broad topic of executive functions.  Executive functions are basically the management system of the brain.

    The best way to explain the role of executive functions is that it is similar to a conductor’s role within an orchestra.  He cues each musician, so they know when to begin to play, how fast or slowly to play, how loudly or softly to play and when to stop playing.  Without the conductor, the music would not flow as smoothly or sound as beautiful (Low, 2009). 

    So, what is decision making?  

    Decision making refers to the mental (cognitive) process of selecting a logical choice from the available options.  When trying to make a good decision, a person must weigh the positives and negatives of each option, and consider all the alternatives.  Thus every decision making process produces a final choice which can be an action or an opinion of choice (Reason, 1990).

    There are three theories of decision making: the Subjective Expected Utility (SEU) Theory, the Multi-Attribute Utility Theory (MAUT), and the Prospect Theory.

    However, in real life, the decision problems are often so complex that the use of any one theory is usually ruled out.  Instead, several cognitive biases and errors creep in our decision making.  Thus, to simplify the decision making process, decision makers often use efficient decision rules known as heuristics.

    Heuristics are rules of thumb or strategies that are likely to produce a correct solution, but are not guaranteed to do so.

    Some commonly reported heuristics are:  

    • Representativeness heuristic.  Under this heuristic, the events that are representative of a class are assigned higher probability of occurrence.
    • Availability heuristic.  It involves estimating the frequencies of events on the basis of how easy or difficult it is to retrieve relevant information from long-term memory.

    Schoemaker and Russo (1993) in their “pyramid of decision approaches” discuss that there are four general approaches to decision making, which presents the practical aspects of executive decision making:

    • Intuitions – receiving input and ideas without knowing exactly how and where you got them from.  Other terms for it include:  gut feeling, sixth sense, instinct,etc.
    • Rules – quick and often clever ways to approximate an optimal response without having to incur the cost of a detailed analysis.  Rule-based decisions means decisions that just follow the implemented rules and guidelines that already exist but which is subject to change thus must be updated on a continuous basis.
    • Importance weighting – application of MAUT.
    • Value analysis – when a decision is truly important and complex, value analysis conducts a more comprehensive assessment.  It links factors to key objectives, which results in a “goal hierarchy”.

    On the pyramid, the higher the method is, the more accurate, complex and costly it tends to be.  However, the pyramidal shape shows also that higher approaches are used less frequently than lower ones and for more important decisions.

    To sum it all up, executive decision making is a thought process which implies assessing and choosing from several competing alternatives, using either short-cut strategies or heuristics and cognitive biases or the more scientific approaches in decision making, depending on a situation that may arise. 

    Lord, Lift Me Up (Poetry)

    • There are times as we walk along the path of life,
    • That we face too many adversity and strife.
    • We don’t know, oh no, how much more we can go on
    • To remain calm, humble, hopeful, faithful and strong.
    • So I strive hard to seek some semblance of calmness
    • In a world that has turned into such a chaos.
    • I’m starting to feel cornered, I beseech numbness
    • To envelope me, to avoid pain I suppose.
    • Lord, lift me up, from this serious state I am in.
    • Let me feel the wonder of this life you’ve given.
    • To the silent prayers of my heart, please listen
    • That this bruised heart may not feel heavily laden.

    How Loved Are You?

    “A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are LOVED BY OTHERS.” – Frank Morgan

    On this week’s flag ceremony, I am tasked to expound on this quote which was also in line with the celebration of Valentine’s Day this Tuesday.

    So hitting two birds with one stone, I will ponder on this thought today and post my speech here in time for my Sunday schedule and share it on other media tomorrow after I already delivered the speech.  Don’t you think that’s a brilliant idea?

    Anyway, as I sat here thinking about the topic more thoroughly, I asked myself. In the last twenty years of my life in government service, what have I done that other people will remember me by?  That is, if God suddenly takes me away (God forbid), will they think of me with sadness or  with fondness? (Hibian man ko bala nila?)  Or will they be happy and think ill of me? (Ayhan mahambal sila:  “Hmp!  Dayaw man ko na sa iya sa kalain batasan!”)  Or will they not think of me at all, as if I was neither worth remembering nor existing at all?  (Wala lang!  Deadma lang!)

    It is said that it is by our deeds that we are measured in the eyes of others.  Our every action, our every word, reflects our inner self.

    Will you choose to be remembered as the beast or as the beauty (Diin pilion mo, hambalan ka:  “law-ay na lain pa batasan, ukon hambalan ka: ” kaayo gid bala na nga tawo”)?  Or to be thought of as the villain or as the hero (Ang madumduman nga manugpatay ka iya kaupdanan ukon ang manugdampig)?  Or to become a politician with the heart to plunder and gain only personal wealth or as a leader with the heart for the people (Ang mangin isa ka politiko nga ang tinutuyo mangurakot lang sa gobyerno o mangin isa ka lider nga may tagipusuon para sa iya mga tawo)?

    The choice is upon us.  Whatever we choose to be is what we are going to be.  And what we are going to do for people to see is what they will remember us to be.  (Kun ano ang ginapakita ta sa mga tawo nga mga hilimuon, amo man na ang ila madumduman sa aton.)

    Have you tried gauging other people’s reaction?  You might be surprised of your own reflection.  Plant dissension, envy and anger in others and you will incite war.  But try to spread love, and you will beget love.  Be a heart that is loved more by others than a heart withered by selfishness and bad manners.

    Remember:  “What you sow is what you reap!”

    So, on this coming Valentine’s Day, the day is not just for loving couples, but for everyone with the heart to spread love.

    So, let us spread love, everyone! Happy Valentine’s Day!

    Not the Usual Trip to Bacolod City

    It was just another ordinary day (or maybe not, since it was my hubby’s birthday). It was a usual 45-minute-or-so trip to Bacolod City (Philippines). Until…

    An idea popped into my head. Why not make this trip a memorable one and post a documentary type of an article in a kind of a tribute to a most beloved person in my life?

    So here it goes…

    February 7, 2017, at 9:15 in the morning, we left the house, together with the eldest daughter for her to arrive at the College where she is currently enrolled as a second year student taking up Bachelor of Science in Accountancy (following my footsteps it seems), in time for her first period of class at 10:30 am.

    After a four-minute walk from the house we reached the highway where two of the City of Victorias landmarks are located: the Victorias Sports and Amusement Center

    and the Victorias City Resort.

    At 9:22 am, we were finally able to get on a Ceres bus and start today’s memorable trip.

    Along the way, I began to take pictures of things or some landmarks that took my fancy to share with everyone for you to see places that most people around here often see and are familiar with.

    This province, Negros Occidental, being known as the sugar capital of the Philippines, it, of course, boast hectares and hectares of growing sugarcanes.

    Being time for harvesting of such crop, it is not surprising to see wagons of harvested sugarcanes waiting to be sent to the sugar mill.

    There are also open fields waiting to be planted with new crops.

    Ten minutes later, we reached the town next to us, the town of Enrique B. Magalona, which happens to be a detour from the main highway, having to take a right turn to enter the town proper.

    Sixteen minutes later since we took the bus, we arrived at a crossroad, the northern part of Silay City, where there is still evidence of how crops of sugarcanes once reach the sugar mills, that cement tried to cover to accommodate modern modes of transportation.

    At 9:43 in the morning we stopped at the Pink House, now the Silay Museum Souvenir Shop, one of the antique houses in Silay City turned into a.museum.

    This is just one of the many old houses along the city proper that were preserved and turned into commercial establishments to tempt the tourists to visit and admire the unique and antiquated grandeur of these business establishments.

    We passed by Silay City’s San Sebastian Cathedral, adjacent the city plaza (the accompanying picture did not give justice to it, the woe of a photographer trying to take pictures while riding a bus. Huhuhu!).

    Two minutes later after the last time check, we passed by a familiar Catholic High School, the St. Theresita’s Academy.

    Silay City is also among the cities in Negros known for their good quality pottery products.  Once upon a time, you could see lots and lots of them small stores selling such wares but I noticed that nowadays there were only a few of them still in business. Makes one wonder if the pottery industry is slowly dying out because people now are more into the modern method of cooking, using gas stoves and even the more costly electric rice cookers, electric gas range and all that.

    Of course, I would not forget to include the popular three balete trees of Silay City as the bus was traversing the road towards the next city which is Talisay City.

    I am not sure if the new generation ever heard of the popular folktale connected with these trees. They could ask their elders about it and be prepared for several hair-raising versions of such folktales.

    At exactly 9:55 am, we reached the most popular landmark (for me, that is), of Talisay City, the Carlos Hilado Memorial State College in their various stages of expansion, to the old building (which was already renovated and painted to its entrance gate up to its continuing construction).

    At around 10:02 in rhe morning, exactly forty minutes since we took the bus (five minutes ahead of arrival time expected), we reached the Ceres Liner terminal.

    The end…??

    Since this is partly a tribute to a birthday celebrant, let’s continue on and see what to expect on his special day out.

    At 10:06 am, we rode a jeepney at Jeepney Bay of the Ceres terminal.

    Eleven minutes later after taking the jeepney ride, we reached our final destination.

    Guess where we are headed to.  Malling?  Uh-uh… Guess again.

    That’s the Land Transportation Satellite Office located inside Robinson’s Place (Bacolod City).

    And that’s how many men/drivers who are celebrating their birthdays today, waiting in line for the renewal of their driver license.

    Five minutes after entering the medical laboratory clinic adjacent to the LTO, a person trying to renew their license could secure their medical forms (that is, if it is not one of their busy days).

    EditHmm, I can totally believe this warning.

    One hour and twenty-one minutes later, after handing in the medical form, an official receipt was issued signifying that the license is finally renewed. That was already fast for a government office catering to lots of drivers renewing their licenses.

    But wait!  Where is the actual driver’s license? Alas, they have to wait six months to one year for the actual card to be released.

    There are other places that are landmarks of Bacolod City (seen on our way to SM-Bacolod. There is the La Consolacion College.

    At a closer look

    Also, the Bacolod San Sebastian Cathedral,

    and the Bacolod City Plaza.

    I could have taken better pictures but this is always the problem of taking pictures on the go.  Haist!  Please think of it as you passing by the same place in a hurry.

    It was an ordinary day made special for an extraordinary guy!

    Finding One’s Self

    Wouldn’t finding Nemo or Dory be easier than finding one’s self? How can one lose one’s self, in the first place? 

    Let me share with you a post I made on Facebook on the topic three years ago. Please refer to the link herein. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10201460406659914&id=1468044218

    Many people may at one point or another feel like they are in a maze trying to find their way out but are just bumping into walls whichever way they choose to take.  It doesn’t mean for most of them that they don’t believe in a divine power (although there are some who are easy to believe in aliens than in the presence of God), it’s just that they are momentarily overwhelmed by the trials or hardships they are currently experiencing.

    As their friends, family, or acquaintances, we can just give them the support they need.  We can only assure them with well-meaning words or actions that we are there for them, that they are not alone, that even when they are feeling the most frustrated or at a time they feel so lost and no one seems to understand how they really feel, they are never alone for even one moment. They should read the poem, Footprints in the Sand, and understand that in all those times they felt things to be the most difficult and that they felt the most alone, are the times God were carrying them through it all.

    Like many other stories with the topic finding something that was lost, like Finding Nemo, in the end, with one’s determination and perseverance, plus a deep faith in divine guidance, the path towards knowing one’s self gets clearer.

    Walking inside the maze, bumping into walls for countless times, may prove frustrating but by being more focused and by learning valuable lessons at each wrong turn, ultimately no matter how long it will take, the road out of the maze will present itself. 

    Go forward. Be strong. Be positive. Be brave.