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The Art of Integrative Negotiation

written by: Sidharth Thakur • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 4/30/2011

Competing and aggressive debating aren’t the only ways to win a negotiation! Read on and find out how an integrative approach may be more fruitful at the negotiation table.

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    In general, the term negotiation is interpreted by most people as being negative as it involves two or more parties fighting over something. However, integrative negotiation is quite a contrast to this general conception. This style of negotiation is far from skirmishing and is based on mutual collaboration that will lead to a beneficial outcome for everyone. Integrative negotiation strategy creates a true ‘win-win’ situation for all the participating members, and no one goes back empty handed. Let’s take a deeper look at what this negotiation strategy involves.

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    When Should Integrative Negotiation Be Used?

    Integrative negotiation is often referred to as fixed pie negotiation, because it is most effective in situations where the negotiations involve splitting up a finite amount of resources. All involved parties must share some common objectives or goals that compel them to make a collaborative effort that is mutually beneficial for all of them. Also, in situations where you feel you cannot win over the others, adopting integrative negotiation may be your best bet – it’s better to get something out of the negotiation than lose out everything.

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    What Determines the Success of Integrative Negotiation?

    As pointed out above, the most important determinant of success in integrative negotiation is the presence of some common goals and objectives. However, that alone is not enough; the other important prerequisites are –

    1. Commitment and an impetus that drives the negotiating parties to work together.
    2. Friendly relationships that do not have any undercurrents of competition and selfishness.
    3. Believing in and respecting the other parties’ abilities and approach.
    4. A certain amount of flexibility is needed to accommodate the vested interests of all the other parties, while holding on strongly to one’s grounds.
    5. Clear and candid communication amongst all the negotiators is a must to ensure that the relevant information reaches Integrative Negotiation - A Collaborative Effort everyone and there is no ambiguity concerning any of the issues.
    6. A rational and a goal oriented approach which is a key factor to the success of this negotiation style, is possible only when the negotiators come forward with a positive approach. So, all presumptions and negative feeling about other negotiators should be left outside the negotiation room.
    7. The core focus should be on addressing the issues or problems at hand, rather than critically examining each other or each other’s competitive position.

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    Benefits of Integrative Negotiation

    This negotiation is the best and the most preferred for one strong reason – everyone gets a fair share at the end. That indeed is a unique feature of this negotiation strategy. The other praiseworthy aspect of integrative negotiation is that it strengthens interpersonal bonds between the negotiators, rather than building animosity or rivalry which is the main difference between integrative and distributive negotiation. Instead of competing and fighting over things, this style promotes collaboration and integration as a result of which the negotiation sessions remain peaceful and amicable rather than chaotic and conflicting.

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    References & Credits:


    Image Credit:

    Rufino (Wikimedia Commons)

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