With the advent of artificial intelligence ethics is taking on additional importance. The Harvard Program on Negotiation identifies five principles for consideration. Linda Fisher in her book, 7 lenses, Learning Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership offers seven lenses of ethical responsibility. A question is how can these principles and ethical responsibilities be applied to negotiations? When working with principled negotiators the ethical principles and ethical responsibilities seem to be very practical. What about when needing to address hard bargainers that don’t seem to have principles and ethical responsibilities?
What are five principles for consideration?
Principle 1. Reciprocity:
Would I want others to treat me or someone close to me this way?
Principle 2. Publicity:
Would I be comfortable if my actions were fully and fairly described in the newspaper?
Principle 3. Trusted friend:
Would I be comfortable telling my best friend, spouse, or children what I am doing?
Principle 4. Universality:
Would I advise anyone else in my situation to act this way?
Principle 5. Legacy:
Does this action reflect how I want to be known and remembered?
These make a lot sense. The golden rule states to treat others as I would like to be treated. The platinum rule says to treat others as they would like to be treated. The platinum rule takes the golden rule another step forward by asking the question of how the other party wants to be treated, rather than assuming they wanted to be treated as I would like to be treated. This is especially important in cross cultural negotiations.
How would you feel if what you did was shared widely? Whether this was done in a public forum with social media, be it with your family, friends, associates and considering your spiritual perspective. If these sources knew not only about the decision you made, but also the why behind that decision, what might that mean? How comfortable would you be with the end result? With what you knew, would you advise a trusted friend or family member to act this way too. What does this say about you? What does it say about how you want to be remembered? These are all valid principles for consideration.
Seven lenses of ethical responsibilities and ethical principles
In her book, 7 Lenses, Linda Fisher Thornton provides seven lenses of ethical responsibility. These are profit, law, character, people, communities, planet and greater good. In a nutshell what do these each entail? You have to make a profit to stay in business. Is the focus to avoid penalties rather than honoring principles legally? Do you need to reach beyond that? Are your decisions grounded in solid moral principles and values focusing on integrity? Can others see this by how we act? Are you an example for others? Do you have concern for others? Do you respect differences? Are you aware of your biases? Are you aware that your unconscious biases do more harm than your conscious biases? Are you concerned about caring for others and not doing harm? In what ways do you show concern for communities, help those in need, and serve others in society? Do you respect life and the planet? Is the way you do business sustainable? In the long term are you oriented towards the greater good? In what ways is what you are doing benefiting society and future generations in order to make this world a better place?
These are the major ethical statements and responsibilities raised in 7 Lenses. These give you a lot to think about.
Linda Fisher Thornton’s has 14 guiding principles to lead with a moral compass. These are:
- Demonstrating personal congruence
- Be morally aware
- Stay competent
- Model expected performance and leadership
- Respect others
- Respect boundaries
- Trust and be trustworthy
- Communicate openly
- Generate efficient and ethical performance
- Think like an ethical leader
- Do good without doing harm
- Work with mutually beneficial solutions
- Protect our planet for future generations
- Improve our global society for future generations
These all sound good. We may be able to justify much of what we do. However, what happens when we encounter an unethical hard bargainer at the negotiating table?
Ethical decision making with a hard bargainer in a negotiation
From my book, Peaceful Resolutions, Chapter7 on the Art of Negotiation there is a Negotiations Strategies table. This table compares soft bargainers, hard bargainers and principled negotiators by 14 categories. This in part is an excerpt from this table:
Category Hard Bargainer Principled Negotiator
Goal Success Resolution
Relationship Adversaries Problem solvers
Technique Make threats Explore interests
Objective Victory Wise outcome
Insist on Position Compromise using objective criteria
Focus Position Interests
Outlook Distrust Trust but verity
Contest of will Prevail Resolution based on standards
Pressure Apply pressure as necessary Yield to logic and principle
Process Hard on people and problem Soft on people / hard on problem
Tactics Demand concessions Separate people from problem
Options Demand one sided gains Invent options for mutual gain
Brainstorming Search for acceptable answer Develop options to evaluate later
Bottom line Mislead as to bottom line Avoid having a bottom line
From this table what can you tell? You can tell that the hard bargainer is all about me, what’s in it for me, and I want to make sure my position is sustained if not in full nearly in full. What about the principled negotiator? You can see a willingness to dig deeper, to understand, to listen, to explore interests, to focus on the problem, and to look for ways to enhance mutual improvements. So, what does this have to do with ethics related to responsibilities and principles?
Everything. Understand where you are coming from. Understand where the other party is coming from whether they be a hard bargainer, a principled negotiator or somewhere in between. Regardless, stay focused on your own ethical responsibilities and principles. You may be able to reach an agreement. Maybe you won’t, but if you don’t is this really a contract you want in your future anyway? Give this some thought the next time you enter into a negotiation and consider your ethical responsibilities and principles. This may allow you to not only negotiate a better deal. This may allow you to feel much better about the negotiation and the end result too.
About the author
Mike is a professional speaker, mediator/negotiator that helps clients resolve issues and be more productive as a conflict resolution expert. Is conflict blocking your results? You may contact Mike directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 11 books including, The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, NSA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]