5 Factors For Teams: The Negotiation Process


John Wenner
CEO, Negotiation Expert
Wenzello, Inc


Negotiation is an intricate subject matter that incorporates fourteen different fields of study, which is why we find a plethora of materials, including courses, periodicals and books providing guidance on how to navigate through a negotiation. As an individual negotiator, these resources are fantastic because two common themes found are becoming an effective negotiator and handling the issues raised during a negotiation. What is typically missing or rarely addressed are the challenges confronting a Team for a negotiation. In addition, and most importantly is how does a Team achieve success during a negotiation. Let’s examine the Team dynamics of negotiation and how to achieve success.

One must remember that a negotiation increases in complexity when there are two or more negotiators representing one side. This complexity can either be positive or negative, it will depend on the Team’s preparation and knowledge of negotiation. For example, when there are only single negotiators on each side representing a buyer or seller, the individuals do not have to concern themselves with the final agreement reflecting the views of any other person except their client’s, unlike having Team members attempting to incorporate their own preferences and priorities plus their clients. Therefore, negotiating with a team significantly changes the dynamics and influences what happens at the table.  According to Lewicki, Saunders and Barry (2006) there are five factors necessary for a team to consider in order to conduct an effective and successful negotiation: Number of Team members involved, Informational Complexity, Social Complexity, Procedural Complexity, and Strategic Complexity.

  1. Number of Team Members Involved: Primary concern with multiple members involved is that each party has adequate time to speak and be heard. Does each member of the team have equal say? If the parties are all equal than the discussion may not be dominated by any one individual. These questions arise when adding a team; Do teams behave differently than individuals? How does the presence of a team change the way parties interact with the other side?
  2. Informational Complexity: More parties bring additional issues, positions, and perspectives. Thereby, increasing a challenge to incorporate and discuss all the parameters.
  3. Social Complexity: Social norms develop on how the negotiation process evolves.  Is one member a distributive (competitive) bargainer and the other integrative (cooperative). Team members may attempt to utilize their own style, distributive or integrative tactics, to persuade each toward their own point of view causing dissention on the team. This can cause the team to overlook or downplay a strength just to achieve an outcome.
  4. Procedural Complexity: The process to discuss perspectives can be eliminated. Or displaying a lack of cohesiveness to the opposing side. Team members may have to discuss how to manage the process such as opening statements, presentation of offers.
  5. Strategic Complexity: The Team must now monitor the moves and actions internally and externally of what will be taking place next in the negotiation.

Team Management of Negotiations
Given the increased complexity with Team negotiations, what is the most effective way for a Team to proceed in a negotiation?  Lewicki et al. (2006) outlined three key management stages for achieving success: prenegotiation stage, formal negotiation stage, and agreement phase.

  1. Prenegotiation Stage: In this first stage, the Team has several items to consider and discuss.  Gathering information and setting up the negotiation process is one of the most critical factors for a team to be successful.
  • Participants
    • Who must be included if a deal is to be reached. Will it be all members or select few?
    • Is there someone that could spoil the deal?
    • Is there someone on the team that could help opposing side just by status?
  • Defining roles in negotiation
    • Will one member be present only to observe? – this can be helpful learning behaviors
    • Will one member ask most of the questions in fact gathering?
    • Will one member present the offer or counteroffer?
  • Gathering information
    • Learning the issues
    • Constructing an agenda – Use more than just the purchase agreement in the agenda such as issues found.

2. Formal Negotiation Stage: A critical way to control the flow of information is through the agenda set above

  • Understand which tactics could be used by the team
    • For example, a Team has two distinct  advantages over individuals when the opposing side is using intimidation. Every person reacts differently to intimidation. There may be a person on the team that won’t be intimidated. The second is that team members can discuss the opposing sides tactic and provide mutual support if the intimidation becomes increasingly uncomfortable. This is similar to the good cop/bad cop tactic.
    • A team discussing alternatives and perspectives may assist in reaching a desired solution.
  • Manage conflict effectively. Having multiple team members can provide an easier method in conflict resolution by assigning that role to the appropriate individual.
  • Review and manage the decision rules of the team.  This is the process the team uses to decide unless it is the team leader

3. Agreement Phase: Be prepared for the last-minute problems such as deadline pressures or the discovery of new information. If the previous two stages were accomplished this final stage proceeds quickly.

  • Insure all of the team perspectives were discussed

In summary, one theme that runs predominantly through a negotiation involving a team is the need to monitor and manage the negotiation process because of the increased complexity. Becoming knowledgeable in the five factors outlined by Lewicki et al. (2006) dramatically increases the overall effectiveness and success in the negotiation process.

My objective was to provide a quick examination of how adding negotiators such as a team makes the negotiation environment a more complex and dynamic process. Understanding how this dynamic changes leads to another subject matter to explore; what type of influence strategies are used by teams.

John has been a REALTOR® for over 23 years. He will obtain his Master’s degree in Negotiation & Conflict Resolution in 2017. John also studied at University of Bologna, Italy for International negotiation and mediation. He is licensed in both AZ & CA.  He is one of 79 individuals with the coveted Distinguished Real Estate Instructor (DREI) credential.  His email isjwenner@wenzello.com




Kolb, D. M., & Williams, J. (2003). Everyday Negotiation: Navigating the hidden agendas in bargaining. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Lewicki, R. J., Saunder, D.M., & Barry, B. (2006).  Negotiation. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Shapiro, D. (2016). Negotiating the Nonnegotiable: How to resolve your most emotionally charged conflicts. New York, NY: Viking.


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