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Wage negotiation season on the horizon

08 July 2013

Researchers, academics and facilitators have long agreed that negotiation, a skill that can be learned, gives the party that is better prepared the edge. That is why good negotiation skills are particularly necessary when parties depend on one another, as management and employee representatives, the unions, do these days.

All parties have more to gain by negotiating than by not negotiating, otherwise companies will be beset by instability and eventually go belly up.

It is a pity that many people believe that negotiating involves competition--a clear contest where one side wins and the other side loses.

Many act on this misapprehension. Most wage negotiations involve haggling over a scarce resource or what is perceived as one, more money to take home. In wage negotiations, no one has to lose.

We all know that the wage-price spiral has eroded many of the significant achievements of the economy in recent years, in terms of employment and real incomes growth.

That is why management say future pay determination should acknowledge the impact that high wage settlements, regardless of the sector in which it occurs, can have on higher inflation rates, leading to the erosion of competitiveness.

Here are a few guidelines to calm those nerves during those many hours of haggling:

  • Show proper respect to and restraint to fellow negotiators. Address them by their titles and positions and never by their first name;
  • Be a careful communicator. The truth is, the better the negotiator, the easier he or she is to understand through good communication skills;
  • Be a careful communicator. The truth is, the better the negotiator, the easier he or she is to understand through good communication skills;
  • Try to give semblance of loyalty to your fellow negotiators. Loyalty is one of the most cherished traits;
  • Patience is a virtue;
  • Be familiar with your counterpart and the issues you will be negotiating. Extensive research will be helpful;
  • Time permitting, try mock negotiation before start of real negotiations;
  • Consider role-reversal negotiation;
  • Have flexible deadlines;
  • Pay close attention to nonverbal cues;
  • Remember that conflict is inevitable. It can be positive or negative. It is how the conflict is handled that makes the difference;

Lastly, no one wins an argument. Facts win an argument.Remember this negotiation axiom by former US Secretary of State, Collin Powell: “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.”

Liza van Wyk is CEO of AstroTech Training who offer leadership development training. or call 0861 AstroTech.