What Is the Meaning of Negotiation?

by Charles Pearson ; Updated September 26, 2017

Negotiations are important in business, personal relationships and conflict resolution. Some negotiations bring an end to conflicts, while other negotiations help parties strike deals in which both parties are satisfied. However, the art of negotiation often has to be learned.


Negotiation is a discussion between two individuals regarding a contract, agreement or relationship. Both partners are dependent on each other and have objectives that might contradict each other. For instance, an employee might want better pay, while an employer might want better performance from the employee. A salary negotiation might occur in which the employee offers to take on more responsibilities in exchange for better pay.


Win-win negotiation occurs when both parties try to come to an agreement in which both parties are happy. This is in contrast to hardball negotiation, in which negotiation is handled in a confrontational manner; this type of negotiation can be harmful to long-term relationships.

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Negotiations must take into consideration the goals of both parties, alternative plans of action in case no one comes to an agreement, the relationship between the two negotiators, possible consequences and benefits that can occur as a result of the negotiation, possible compromises, and how much power each individual has in the relationship.

When to Negotiate

Negotiations are only possible if both parties are willing to negotiate. The need for negotiation must be made clear. Also, negotiations are difficult if both parties are not dependent on each other in order to accomplish a goal. Both partners must also be willing to settle on an issue. Negotiations are often conducted when parties want to test each other's strength, change each other's perceptions, develop new ways to handle a situation, and solve problems.


Negotiations can be difficult if one partner does not feel that the other partner's needs are legitimate. Some individuals also refuse to negotiate out of a fear of being seen as weak. Some individuals are reluctant to negotiate with those they think are weak. Sometimes, partners might not want to get stuck in an agreement. Finally, some parties do not like to have attention brought to the fact that there is a disagreement.

When Not to Negotiate

Sometimes negotiations are not necessary, especially when there are other less time-consuming venues. Sometimes, an informal discussion can lead to the resolution of a conflict.

About the Author

Charles Pearson has written as a freelancer since 2009. He has a B.S. in literature from Purdue University Calumet and is currently working on his M.A. He has written the ebooks "Karate You Can Teach Your Kids," "Macadamia Growing Handout" and "The Raw Food Diet."

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