Today I have been working on the new MBA on Negotiation for Heriot Watt, and as part of the new module I wanted to explore what people think Negotiation actually is.

From an academic perspective there are several definitions:

  • Chambers Dictionary: to confer in order to reach agreement
  • Oxford Dictionary: Confer with others in order to reach a compromise
  • Fisher & Ury: a basic means of getting what you want from somebody
  • Gavin Kennedy: a process by which we search for terms to obtain what we want from somebody who wants something from us.

From more of a business perspective, I have noticed that delegates on our workshops think of negotiation as either a competitive process to get what you want or as a collaborative process to get a joint agreement.

There are also those that treat negotiations as a one-off event.  Those that see it as an opportunity to take advantage by using ploys and manipulative tricks.  Those that want to win.  Those that want to succeed.  Those that just don’t want to lose.

Some people see it as an exchange.  Others as a struggle.  There are even those that see it as a battle.

Where do you sit?  What IS negotiation to you?