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By the Book: The Value of Negotiating with a Code of Conduct

June 21, 2011

Negotiations can be stressful, and they are often laced with unexpected challenges and frustrations. A good negotiator weathers the demands of the process while staying true to his ethics, and maintaining a positive, open dialogue with the person across the table. Morals and ethics in business are not subject to change just because a deal is challenging or the other party is disagreeable. But, when a situation gets tough – or you’re just feeling the pressure – it can be easy to lose sight of all the things you said you would or wouldn’t do.

It always helps to write down what you’re thinking, and this case is no different: if you and your colleagues conceptualize and write your own code of behavior, it will be easier to stand by your word and see any negotiation, no matter how challenging, through to a productive – and honest – end.

At the MarketWatch Center for Negotiation Conduct, we have developed a Negotiation Code of Conduct that can help you and your business partners establish rules of behavior to guide you through even the most challenging situations. This code includes statements of what we will and will not do, under all circumstances, in order to preserve the honesty and integrity of the negotiation. Use our list as a basis for your own Code of Conduct, share it with your business partners, and reflect back on it when the stress levels rise:

We will not:

•           We will not lie / bluff

•           We will not intentionally put any pressure on counterparty,

             including time pressure

•           We will not make inflated offers

•           We will not  practice emotional manipulation

•           We will not employ aggressive and hostile negotiation strategies and tactics

•           We will not be holding back information

 We will:

•           We will put our best efforts to keep the trust level in negotiation as high as possible

•           We will restrain from spying, bribing and infiltration attempts

•           We will walk as we talk and will fully observe our agreement, if concluded

•           We will be open about variables and values and share the information

            on an equal level

•           We will try to observe fairness and even sharing of gain added value

We believe:

•           We believe that working together outperforms winning at the expense of the counterpart

•           We do believe in power of ethics and morality in negotiation

 At the end of the day, openly adhering to a common set of moral and ethical guidelines buoys company morale while assuring your business partners that you’re a fair-dealer. Encourage those both inside and outside your company to enforce your own Code of Conduct, and emphasize its importance during even the toughest of deals.

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