Creative negotiation

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University of California
Labor Management in Agriculture: Cultivating Personnel Productivity
(c) 2003 Regents of the University of California
All Rights Reserved, (209) 525-6800

Creative Negotiation

The very thought of negotiating
sounds intimidating, yet we are all
experienced negotiators. Any time we
come to an agreement on anything,we
are negotiating. Some of it we may do
somewhat subconsciously, such as
deciding who says hello first, or holding
a cattle gate open for another rider to
pass through. Determining where to go
out for dinner with your spouse, or
asking your daughter for help in training
a colt also involves negotiation. More
traditional issues we associate with
negotiation may include agreeing on (1)
apruning price with your vineyard crew,
(2) how much you are going to pay to
have your postharvest cooling shed
constructed, or (3) what you will get for
your export cherries.
One thing that these examples have
in common, is that they involve people.

Many of us developed a love for
agriculture based on our love for farm
animals and plants. We may at first be
surprised to see instead,what a large
portion of our day involves interacting
with people. We can take specific steps
to become more effective negotiators.
Negotiation skills include being well
prepared, showing patience, maintaining
integrity, avoiding the presumption of
evil, controlling our emotions,
understanding the role of time pressures,
breaking down bigger issues into
smaller ones, avoiding threats andmanipulative tactics, focusing first on
the problem rather than on the solution,
seeking interest-based decisions, and
rejecting weak solutions. We shall visit
these later in this chapter.
Much of this book incorporates
negotiation principles in one way or

218 • L A B O R M A N AG E M E N T I N A G R I C U LT U R E : C U LT I VAT I N G P E R S O N N E L P R O D U C T I V I T Y

Manyconflicts that on the
surface seem to be
purely about resources,
often have significant
components related to
issues of participation,
face saving, relationships,
and identity.

another. This chapter is presented as a
way to help us think through
challenging day-to-day situations,
especially those for which we may not
find direct answers in the book. I find
that it helps to keep amental or written
notebook on how we react to difficult
situations. Certainly, we have lots of
opportunities to practice.
While still focusing on agricultural
labor management, it is my hope in this
chapter to expand to other people issues
that affect us. Whatever improvements
we make in one area of our lives tend to
spill over to other areas, such as the
home, ranch, business dealings, orsports. For those of you who operate a
family farm, many such distinctions are
already blurry.
Scenarios interspersed throughout
this chapter allow you to practice
negotiation skills. Set aside your reading
after each scenario, and think through
all the issues that may be involved. How
do you think you would react? Put
yourself in the place of each of the
players. Only after consideringeach
scenario separately should you move on
to find out how they were resolved.
While resolutions are provided for
most of the scenarios, they may not
reflect the best or worst possible
outcome. Furthermore, what is best for
one stakeholder may not be for the
other. You may want to ask yourself how

these individuals could have arrived at a
better solution. Finally, the scenarios arenot necessarily intended to reflect the
topic discussed in that section.
Interest-based (or integrative)
negotiation is built upon the principle of
meeting the needs of all the individuals
or “stakeholders.” This frequently calls
for creative thinking that goes beyond
the poorly thought out compromise—
such as those arrived at when there is a
rush to solve before we have made an
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