Parties to a negotiation start the process with deep-rooted preconceptions about how they should act towards each other. Emotional and rational attitudes are hard to change and are generally consistent with beliefs, opinions, and biases. A satisfactory negotiation cannot occur until both the parties modify their attitudes sufficiently to engage in the share-bargaining and problem-solving processes encountered in all negotiations.

Also known as attitudinal structuring, the concept is a part of a larger net of bargaining processes and strategies used in negotiations. It’s a way to manage relationships and create a social aspect in the negotiation process. The relationship you are looking to create with another party can be structured through different types of attitudes or emotions. How you will proceed depends on the types of attitudes the other party is displaying like aggression, accommodation, cooperation, etc. 

Remember, the idea in a successful negotiation is to create and manage long term relationships so it’s important to react appropriately and structure a productive negotiation.

Attitudinal Bargaining Examples

Zane works at a law firm and is in a negotiation with Bob from a paper supply company. Bob understands very well how much paper a law firm will need both in quantity and quality so he decides to take an accommodating approach in order to make the sale. Zane on the other hand is displaying aggressive tactics in order to get the price down. Zane’s aggression is driving the price way below Bob’s margins so Bob has to adjust his attitude to a more stern and direct approach to get his point across to Zane. Bob explains there is no possible way he can go that low. Zane understands and respects Bob’s honesty so he therefore restructures his attitude in order to be reasonable. Both gentlemen come to an agreement and a mutual respect and good standing relationship is created.

Caitlyn is preparing for an upcoming negotiation with a new client. After doing some research on the new client, she believes they will be rather receptive and accommodating to her price points. Caitlyn structures her presentation and attitude to line up with her new client’s accommodating and non-threatening behaviors. She wants to ensure that the client feels comfortable and willing to build an ongoing relationship with someone who displays a similar attitude.

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