The Negotiation Process

Charles B. Craver
George Washington University – Law School

American Journal of Trial Advocacy, Vol. 27, p. 271, 2003
GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 277
GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 277


This article explores the six formal stages of the negotiation process to demonstrate to readers how structured bargaining encounters are. During the Preparation Stage, negotiators have to acquire critical information and determine:

  1. their bottom lines;
  2. their goals; and
  3. their opening offers.

During the Preliminary Stage, they should work to establish rapport with opponents and to create positive negotiating environments that will be more conducive to cooperative bargaining. During the Information Stage, negotiators must ask open-ended questions designed to discover what items are available for division – value creation.

During the Distributive Stage, the participants vie for the items that are on the table – value claiming. During the Closing Stage, the parties seek to solidify the terms of their agreement without giving up more than they need to. During the final Cooperative Stage, the participants should work to maximize their joint returns to be certain they have achieved mutually efficient agreements.

The Negotiation Process

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