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Four Phases of Negotiation Process


The negotiating a union contract is a stressful time, and it will drain us mentally and physically. Following these stages will help you to overcome the obstacle on your way and reduce the time dedicated to the process. Usually the negotiation process has four phases:

A) Pre-Negotiation

B) Conceptualization

C) Settling the Details

D) Follow-up


1. Pre-Negotiation

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The first thing to determine is whether there is actually any reason to negotiate at all. Secondly, we need to be clear on the specifics we want to negotiate about. Then its time to establish some form of agenda before beginning our talks and identify the correct people who will be involved in the talks and their levels of responsibility and authority.

If possible, obtain as much information about these people and their company or organization. Intelligence gathering is crucial in obtaining a picture of the other side, so we can assess their needs, motivations, and goals with respect to our own.

Next, set the time, date and location where the process will be held. We can begin by building some kind of rapport, and set out the agenda, through a variety of means such as phone calls, faxes, e-mails, and even an informal personal get together beforehand.

2. Conceptualization

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Develop the foundation of the agreement by framing the issues, without becoming bogged down in the minuscule details. The building blocks need to be put together to understand the basic concept of the agreement we are seeking. We are attempting to formulate principles upon which we can both agree, such as who will provide financing or the licensing aspects, for example.

Define each other's goals and objectives through fact finding and by establishing some measure of compatibility. Consider creative options and discuss concessions to get an agreement. We advance proposals and counter-proposals, back and forth, until some manner of tentative agreement is reached.

The terms of the partnership are re-framed until they reach the level, where both parties are as satisfied, within the various parameters of what they bring to the table.

3. Settling the Details

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This phase sees the completion of the agreement. Here, we use our external specialists to complete the details of the venture, that we are about to mutually embark upon. Discuss the problems of implementing the partnership realistically, so that it is both, viable and workable. We also hammer out the details as they relate to production, scheduling, handling delays, task responsibility and authority. We will use our own technical and management people to streamline the process so it works smoothly, and meets our standards and requirements.

The final portion of this process is then left to our respective legal experts, to put our agreement into a written form of documentation, and to describe the contractual obligations to which both parties have agreed.

This is not the 'walk in the park' like it sounds. Settling the details correctly and meticulously is extremely important. Many negotiations have collapsed because the parties failed to devote the necessary time and work to address the details efficiently. Until these are properly ironed out, we can't celebrate our success.

4. Follow-up

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Just because we've signed on the dotted line doesn't mean that it ends there. We cannot toss the contract into our files and forget about it. It seldom ends there as problems always arise. Any aspect of any contract may need to be re-negotiated, or the details altered to counter a broad variety of changing circumstances. Expensive and embittered legal battles can be skipped simply by keeping the lines of communication open with our counterparts. We should be experienced enough by now to understand, that nothing is ever as simple as it seems.
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