Negotiation Techniques

The Paula Stephenson Group employ strategies and interventions of cooperative negotiations. Techniques for collaborative/cooperative negotiations are establishing criteria; brainstorming; linking and unlinking; logrolling; role-reversal; focusing on the future relationship; cost-cutting; and coaching

Collaborative/Cooperative Negotiations

 Cooperative negotiations are an interaction from which all participants can profit in some way. In conflict resolution, a winwin strategy is a collaborative strategy and conflict resolution process that aims to accommodate all participants. Cooperative negotiation is also called interest-based, merit-based, or principled negotiation. It is a set of techniques that attempts to improve the quality and likelihood of negotiated agreement by taking advantage of the fact that different parties often value various outcomes differently. Cooperative negotiation attempts to create value during the negotiation by either “compensating” loss of one item with gains from another. Or create value by constructing or reframing the issues of the conflict in such a way that both parties’ benefit.

Cooperative negotiation often involves a higher degree of trust and the formation of a relationship. It can also involve creative problem-solving that aims to achieve mutual gains. It sees a good agreement as not one with maximum individual gain, but one that provides optimum gain for all parties. Gains in this scenario are not at the expense of the other, but with it. Each seeks to accord the other enough benefit that it will hold to the agreement that gives the first party an agreeable outcome, and vice versa.

Cooperative negotiation focuses on the underlying interests of the parties rather than their starting positions. Cooperative negotiators approach negotiation as a shared problem-solving rather than a personalized battle. And negotiators insist upon adherence to objective, principled criteria as the basis for agreement.


Caucus, individual interview/conference, is a technique for obtaining information about each party’s position and for finding out areas of compromise. Mediator(s) to use a caucus to confront the parties with the reality of their proposals or options. It is also a place where the mediators(s) can safely ask certain questions of the party which might jeopardize their neutrality if asked in the joint session. Mediators call for a caucus with disputants to discuss options, demands, and offers; observe signs of harmful behavior; confirm movement; concentrate on an obstinate party; break; and evaluate proposals.

 Establishing Criteria

The purpose of establishing criteria is to support a structured decision-making process and ensure that decisions made, and alternatives selected support the desired outcomes and actions, as well as core values. To establish a fair process that reflects the stated outcomes and project goals, it is important to determine the criteria prior to developing potential alternatives. For criteria to be effective, they should have the following characteristics, clarity; relativity; discriminatory; non-discriminatory; realistic; measurable; economical; and justifiable.

Clarity criteria are agreements not subject to multiple interpretations, agreements are simple, clear, and precise. Relativity criteria are all key elements of agreement requirements that must relate to the requirement definition and be covered by an agreement criteria. Discriminatory criteria are separating best mutual solutions for agreement from average and weaker solutions. Non-discriminatory criteria are fair and reasonable agreements.

Realistic criteria are agreements likely to succeed or be effective in real circumstances. Measurable criteria are agreements with outcomes that are quantifiable and having distinguishing importance. Economical criteria are agreements that do not consume and unreasonable amount of time or resources. Justifiable criteria are agreements that make sense and can be justified on common sense, technical and legal basis; mandatory and heavily weighted criteria must be justified.


Brainstorming is a group creativity technique by which efforts are made to find a conclusion for a specific problem by gathering a list of ideas spontaneously contributed by its members. In other words, brainstorming is a situation where a group of people meet to generate new ideas and solutions around a specific domain of interest by removing inhibitions. People can think more freely, and they suggest as many spontaneous new ideas as possible. All the ideas are noted down without criticism and after the brainstorming session the ideas are evaluated.

Linking and Unlinking

Linking is bundling agenda items and unlinking is unpacking agenda items. Linking is connecting agenda items that are integral, related, or sequential to negotiate an aggregate amount. Some items may be linked if it is beneficial for both parties. Unlinking larger agenda items may work when the items can stand alone. When principles or criteria that apply to each are different, unlinking may help the disputants.


Logrolling refers to a practice in which different organizations promote each other’s agendas, each in the expectation that the other will reciprocate. To compromise is to make a deal between different parties where each party gives up part of their demand. In arguments, compromise is a concept of finding agreement through communication, through a mutual acceptance of terms. Often compromise involve variations from an original goal or desire. Parties make concessions for issues with less importance or personal cost.


Role reversal is one technique that deeply and explicitly demonstrate a protagonist’s intrapersonal conflicts. The protagonist is invited to move out of his own position or role into the significant other’s position and enact that role. Therefore, the supporting character can observe and learn how to play the role. For example, in a parent-child’s session, a protagonist who is the child reverses role with one of his or her parents. This technique not only helps the protagonist get more insight of a specific role but also helps the director, the supporting characters, and the audience learn more about that specific role.

Focusing on the Future Relationship

Future orientation is broadly defined as the extent to which an individual thinks about the future, anticipates future consequences, and plans before acting. Focusing on the future relationship is defined as building a close and harmonious relationship among parties for a continuous good relationship. If past grievances are blocking creative negotiation among parties who have a continuing relationship, the mediator can change the frame of the negotiation to their future relationship.


Cost cutting is a measure taken by parties to mutually reduce expenses. If negotiations are stalled on the total cost of the agreement, parties may collaborate on cutting cost. Cost cutting measures are typically implemented during times of financial distress. They can also be enacted if parties expect money issues in the future, where cost cutting can then become part of the negotiation strategy.


Coaching is a form of development in which an experienced person, called a coach, supports a learner or client in achieving a specific personal or professional goal by providing training and guidance. The learner is sometimes called a coachee. Occasionally, coaching may mean an informal relationship between two people, of whom one has more experience and expertise than the other and offers advice and guidance as the latter learns; but coaching differs from mentoring by focusing on specific tasks or objectives, as opposed to more general goals or overall development. Coaching is inherent in many techniques to assist parties.

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