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Negotiations are a means for conflicting agents to communicate and compromise to reach an understanding that is mutually beneficial. The agents have the interest to cooperate but conflict on how to go about this. The following is my strategy to negotiate with my father on how to go about his proposal to have my brother join the front-end sales side of the business. However, before I proceed, there are three features that I should have in mind: time constraints of the negotiations (in this case there is no time limit on how long the negotiations should take), information state of the parties (if my father has all the information concerning my brother for him to enter these negotiations with me from an informed point of view) and number of issues to negotiate (Fatima, 2004). There are usually protocols to observe when parties want to enter negotiations. These contracts act as rules to govern the encounter. For multi-issue negotiations, there are two main protocols to follow. The first one is called the game theoretical approach. These rules are designed to achieve equilibrium as the goal of the talks. This is so that agents do not change their behavior afterward. The second approach is heuristics. Here, the parties are more flexible in their behavior and equilibrium is not the primary goal but information sharing. Although these are terms used in computer science, they are very practical for use in business negotiations.
This is a multi-issue negotiation because of the third consideration- some issues to settle. This being a multi-issue negotiation, there are two ways to go about it. First is to clump up the issues and discuss them all in general. Secondly, the problems could be broken down into sections that can be negotiated separately. This type of negotiations has the benefit of yielding a win-win situation for the parties involved, in this case, my father and me. We both have the same goal, maintaining continued success of the business (de Oliveira, & Karczewski, n.d.). The issues to negotiate are non-linear since they are dependent on each other. This means that an inclusion of my brother in the front-end part of the business has obvious repercussions with our clientele as it is where they interact with our business. This will affect public relations and sales. He has had issues in keeping face in front of customers. This has been in either using inappropriate language and not maintaining his personal appearance. The fact that the problems are non-linear, it is better to jointly discuss the issues rather than breaking them down into smaller topics of negotiation. This means that issues of time of discussion wouldn’t apply as there is no list of subjects to negotiate on. It all boils down to one singular issue: getting my brother on the new duties my father wants me to assign him on.
My desired outcome going into the negotiations is to compromise and give my father what he wants while also maintaining the success of the business by not losing customers. I would like to give my brother more responsibilities, but only in the areas, he is good at and not impose on him additional responsibilities that involve customer interactions. This will go a long way towards fulfilling my father’s wishes while maintaining good public relations and not lose clients. It is a good plan to get my brother more involved in the business as it is a family enterprise. It is however very important to avoid compromising the success of the firm. I have a desire to have him join the higher tier management section of the business to help share the load. This should be done in a smart way so that there are no negative ripples moving forward. I also hope to maintain a cordial relationship with my father during the negotiations. Tempers could rage as are we are both emotionally invested in the talk because it involves a family member. I also hope to come to an understanding that is beneficial to my father, the business and my brother. It is important to keep in mind that it is a family business and his integration is necessary regardless of the current situation. I should be prepared to come with a strategy that would bring him on board in a way that would not harm the business through affecting our client relations.
My father’s goals or interests in this negotiation is to primarily give my brother a sense of inclusion in the business so that he does not feel left out. He probably thinks that my brother harbors resentment since I have moved up the corporate ladder in the company while he has been in the same place. He could also believe that this is one of the reasons he acts in that “I don’t care” attitude in front of clients and how he has let himself go regarding appearance. I think my father is just trying to level the playing field for both his sons in his business. This is important to relieve feelings of exclusion from the family enterprise.
Since these are speculations on my end, I would need to prepare questions to ask my father. This is to better improve my understanding of his goals and interests. The following are the issues I intend to ask him:
- What is the exact role you want him to play for the business?
- Do you see any conflicts that would arise with our clients following his integration?
- What kind of time frame do you think is appropriate to get him integrated into the areas you are proposing?
I expect the second question to give my father more information on his decision and all the factors affecting it. It should be an opportunity for me to know his intentions coming into the negotiations. A time frame for his suggestion to be actualized is important to help me figure out how to better integrate my brother by either getting him interpersonal skills through education or just having a sit-down to determine his interests if they are aligned with my father’s. These questions should go a long way in helping me move forward in the negotiations with compromises in mind and a better understanding of how far I can go to push my agenda.
As in family businesses, there are conflicts inherent to shared emotional connections and having a shared history. These are bound to bring problems when negotiating. The issue I expect to arise during the negotiations because of the father-son relationship is just one- how to maintain respect while the negotiations continue. This is the biggest issue since I do not agree with his wishes to integrate my brother into the front-facing side of the business. Since I have worked with him and I know how he behaves and how he also carries himself, I have a strong opinion as to why this is not a good idea. Maintaining respect while getting my contrary opinion across is the main issue. I, therefore, need to find a way to articulate my opposite opinion without it coming off as disrespectful. I should, therefore, try to find the right words while negotiating to avoid the talk getting emotional. This will be difficult due to the stakes involved: his son, my brother. Openness gives all the parties a chance to have all the relevant information about the negotiations. Information in such situations is essential. This will make sure that my point of view is not seen as emotional.
The first strategy I should employ is mediation. It is maybe necessary to bring in a neutral third-party to the negotiations like another senior ranking member of the business especially one that has dealt with my brother and is aware of the issues I want to articulate. This is important so that I can maintain a cordial relationship with my father throughout this process. Mediation is a good way to get my point across but from a neutral point of view as going into the negotiations, and I am against my father’s decision. Getting another perspective on the issue might open new ways of solving the problem while mutually satisfying both parties. The second strategy is to be in a compromising position (“Forbes Welcome”, 2017). If I enter the negotiations with something that I plan to give up. This makes me more flexible to implement at least a version of my father’s wish. It is his business after all, and his wishes must be respected within reason. This is to maintain the corporate status with the clients while also giving my brother more responsibility in the family enterprise. I am willing to give my father what he wants in a staggered way over a considerable time span. This means adding more and more responsibilities to my brother a little at a time while monitoring his progress in how he handles them. This makes it easy for him to adjust to his new roles, and he can grow into them. The third strategy is employing a collaborative one. What I mean by this is simply getting my brother in on the talks. It is imperative to not plan his life out for him without his consent or at the very least his say so. A collaborative strategy is an integrative negotiation where all the parties are required to cooperate with one another to achieve a desired allied goal. Here, my brother, father and I would all join in the negotiation. I would be interested to know the ambitions my brother has concerning the top tier positions in the company. This is crucial to figure out whether he has the same goals as my father. If thy both have similar wishes, it would be easier to get him into a more cooperative state to better improve his public relations skills. Eventually, he would be in a position to occupy the niche our father wants to carve out for him. This can be through improving his outward presentation regarding dressing to give a good picture to the clients. Also, he can refrain from his usual inappropriate language in front of the customers. As for his interpersonal skills, they can be worked on over time due to consistent interactions with the public. In a short period, depending on his ability to quickly pick up these skills, he can be the new face of the company via this new position. It is also important to note that him being the creative type, he is better suited to handle the public.
Fatima, S. S. (2004). An agenda-based framework for multi-issue negotiation. Artificial Intelligence, 152(1), 1-45.
Forbes Welcome. (2017). Forbes.com. Retrieved 23 May 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/neilpatel/2015/06/29/how-to-win-your-negotiation-while- preserving-good-relationships/#65fd9207e364
de Oliveira, J., & Karczewski, M. Comparison of multi-issue negotiation techniques forconstructing intelligent distributed systems (1st ed.). Technical University of Delft. Retrieved from https://www.scribd.com/document/11473452/Multi-Issue-Negotiation-Paper