How to Negotiate
Negotiation is something people (subconsciously) do every day. Therefore, knowing tips and tricks that improve negotiating skills is very valuable. Furthermore, improving your negotiation skills will help you to perform better at the MUN conference. Negotiation is an essential part of the conference.
Negotiation is a partnership. One cannot simply push through their own wishes. To make such a collaboration go smoothly, while coming out of the negotiation without making too many concessions is possible, and this article will show you how!
Knowing Your Goals and Alternatives
Before the negotiations start at the MUN conference, decide on your goals of the negotiations, because not all proposals will be accepted by the opponent. Therefore, it is essential to set your priorities straight beforehand. While negotiating, there is the possibility that nerves will take over and it will become difficult to determine whether you should agree with what is being proposed. If minimum requirements are already set, you will be more confident at the time of the negotiations.
As a back-up, make sure to have alternatives as well. If your goals are not met, then have alternatives available. If both your wishes and your alternatives are not met , then you can give up. It is better to have no deal at all, than a bad deal. When this happens, trying to search for other partners is recommended, because you might be able to get a deal with them.
In order to get the best result possible from the negotiation, make sure to set up negotiation priorities beforehand. The negotiation priorities go hand in hand with the set goals. To achieve these goals, determine the negotiation priorities. You need to decide how you want to tackle the chosen topics, and in what order. A good order of topics will help to establish a solid base to build your goals on (this is where you put logos into practice). Make sure to stick to these as well; you do not want to get lost during the negotiation itself and forget about your goals. Of course you can talk about other topics as well, but make sure that they are always related to the priorities.
Here is where the partnership comes to life! Try to think of the negotiation as a duet; you need two voices in order to make the song a success. For this duet to go well, you need to bond with your opponent. This can be accomplished in several steps.
First, try to break the ice. This is also where you put pathos into practice. (You can read about Pathos in our article on Rhetorics.) Try to have a conversation where the opponent feels heard. Do not immediately start negotiating, but start with a compliment about their speech and ask a question about their delegation’s opinion on a given MUN topic. In this way you give the opponent the opportunity to justify themselves, but they also feel heard.
Secondly, make sure your opponents feel heard. This is essential in order to come up with a good deal, but also to build a relationship. If the opponent does not feel heard, they are unlikely to listen to your wishes. To make the opponent feels heard, make sure to ask questions after they have talked. That way, the opponent will feel like you take their arguments seriously and that you are willing to think about their proposal.
Thirdly, be respectful. Having respect for the opponent is essential in order to get a good negotiation. Even if your opinions differ, make sure to consider what they are talking about. Furthermore, do not make unkind or sarcastic comments. As a result, the bond is broken with the opponent and it is a lot more difficult to make the duet succeed.
Lastly, be kind. You do not want to overdo it, but give your opponent a compliment every once in a while. In this way the opponent feels taken seriously and is therefore more likely to be open to reaching a compromise. For instance, try saying: ‘I am sure that with people as smart as you, we can come up with a good solution.’.
Even though people are trying to be respectful, kind and interested, the negotiation can still end up in a conflict. Do not panic, there are solutions to solve conflicts in a civilised way, that will make the negotiations go well again.
First, do not get emotional. Of course you can get frustrated, angry or even scared, but try to make sure you do not show this. If you do show this, you will not come across as professional as you would like to be. Remember you are representing a country and not your personal views. If you really can not keep it together, say out loud how you feel. Say something like: ‘I feel myself getting frustrated the way things are going right now. Shall we try moving on to the next topic?’. This way, you still show your emotions, while remaining professional.
Secondly, keep things objective. You do not want to offend your opponent. Therefore, think about what you want to say before speaking out loud. Do not say something such as: ‘that is a stupid argument’ (more about fallacies here). Instead, try saying: ‘I am having difficulty understanding your argument, can you elaborate on that?’. This way, you show interest, while remaining kind and professional.
Lastly, take your time. If you feel things getting heated up, do not rush your arguments or replies. Take time to think before you act, even in the heat of the moment. Once you say something inappropriate, you cannot take it back. You can still apologise, but it will remain difficult to be friendly to each other afterwards.
If you get to an agreement, make sure to summarise the agreement before finally accepting it. Keep in mind that this is a model United Nations. You need to make sure you are on the same page as the opponents, since politics and diplomacy are key. Before you start writing the treaty together, do not forget to summarise. If you want to make sure you can give a good summarisation, we suggest that you make notes during the conference. This way, you do not forget important things. The summarisation does not have to be long. Briefly talk about what you discussed and what your agreement is. If you are still on the same page, congratulations, you had a successful duet!