Trust in Negotiation

Trust in Negotiation


Trust is a relationship that exists between two or more parties whereby the trustor gives the right to the trustee to hold title to an asset or property for the well-being of the third party (Docherty & Jayne 2004). In a negotiation process there exist two types of trust namely living and testamentary trust. Living trust shows effects during the lifetime of the trustor while testamentary comes through the will of the deceased individual. The study by Ury and William (1993) shows that trust can apply in negotiation if the party benefiting is under age or is mentally disabled. It is difficult for parties to make deals in the absence of faith. Even though the groups manage to enter into a relationship, there would be challenges in implementing the agreements. Trust is important in any long or short term relationship regardless of the type of business conducted by the parties whether buying or even conflict resolution.

Building trust during negotiation

Turning to Vlaar (2008) one finds that most individuals approach negotiations hoping to exchange information, treat and be treated fairly by the other party and build a sustainable relationship with the other negotiator. In many cases once the negotiation starts a party may hold back some information from the others, suspect the behaviour of the other group and start having a feeling of distrust from the other counterpart because of lack of strong trust among the negotiating parties.

Research by Docherty and Jayne (2004) give tips on how to establish trust when negotiating with a new party or partner and also guidelines of re-establishing the deteriorated relationship among the partners.

Vlaar (2008) reveals that the negotiating party must strive to select the counterpart wisely to make the negotiation process safe and trustworthy. The negotiator should seek advice and recommendations from the individuals or groups that he trust before choosing the colleague party. The party selected would treat the other player well because of the recommendation made improve the level of trust. Also, the negotiating parties should establish a strong rapport before the process begins. As Lee (2007) postulates, different groups respond similarly to the actions of the other, meaning that if the cooperation among the groups increases and respect between the groups is enhanced, the trust will prevail resulting in a long-term relationship among the groups. The negotiating groups should take the time to know one another well and build rapport among them before negotiating.

The negotiating parties should establish appropriate default of trust. The work of Vlaar (2008) reveals that negotiators face challenges through the assumptions of having trusted relationships with the other group. The parties should change the default of trust held when negotiation starts. Vlaar (2008) records that in engaging in the relationship among the parties, the negotiators should make an effort of winning the trust of the other group. Winning the trust of the other group calibrate with how much to trust the other party. The negotiator should research about the other party’s history, interest and culture. The negotiator can win the confidence of the other party by labelling the important concession that tells the other group the extent of the sacrifice he or she is making and the meaning.

As Vlaar (2008) perceptively states, acknowledging and listening to the groups can help build trust in the negotiation process. The negotiators are more likely to trust each other depending on how the groups treat one another. The negotiator should be modest about his or her gains at the table for the other group to feel being treated with fairness and demonstrate his or her willingness for achievements and quick thinking.

Importance of trust in negotiation

Trust is a necessary component throughout the process of negotiation. Trust lubricates and binds the groups who have the objective of making deals. The presence of confidence can simplify the negotiation process either before the process begins or at the early stages.  Lee (2007) records that the negotiating parties make an assessment of how to trust the counterpart before the process begins and come up with a strategy for negotiating based on the evaluation. Confidence among the parties minimises the risk of closing the deal before maturity reducing transaction expenses when closing the deal. The parties can complete and verify the transactions through shaking hands because the established trust enables the partners to believe and expect that the parties will adhere to the agreement.

As Ury and William (1993) argue, trust allows reaching of an agreement with ease among the groups. Through trust, the contracting parties convey necessary information to each other without holding back. The feeling of distrust does not exist among the parties fastening the agreement among the groups. Trust enables the contracting parties to understand one another’s culture and interest and coping with them enabling the negotiators to establish robust and long lasting relationships. In countries where the law of trust exists in negotiation, the breach by one party guarantees the other group to sue him or her.

Trust creates an atmosphere of fair treatment among the negotiating parties. Trust makes the negotiators feel fairly treated throughout the negotiation process through following the guidelines and rules laid down before the party’s talk starts. Feeling of fairness among the negotiators strengthens the relationship and improves negotiation outcomes from the individual.

Research by Pavlenko and Blackledge (2004) show that trust enables a negotiator to build a strong reputation. The strong believe in one party motivates the other groups to negotiate with the panel. The essential elements of the reputation correspond to the extent to which the other party trust you. Also, many parties enter into a negotiation with one another with an aim to make a lasting deal among them. Trust makes it easy for the groups to achieve a faithful deal with the counterparts.

Loosing or decreasing trust during negotiation

Fells and Ray (2009) clearly point out that it is possible for negotiating parties to weaken trust on one another based mainly on the actions of the party. One negotiator may lose his or her faith on the other if it happens that the counterpart denies a point that he had previously agreed to adhere to that may occur when the outcome of the negotiation fails to favour one party. Also, a negotiator may decrease trust through accepting a point during the negotiation process that he or she had declared as deal breaker during the formation of the process. A study by Vlaar (2008) shows that when one negotiator uses the browbeating and bullying tactic to win a point from the counterpart, the scenario can result to the diminishing of trust. The colleague should use polite arguments showing the importance of the point to the negotiation process in an attempt to make a deal with the other party can result in the decrease of trust from the other side.

Reference to Ury and William (1993) reveal that negotiator can lose trust from the other party if he shows disrespect to the members of the other group, lacking consistency in or by demonstrating unreliability in whatever he says or do. The negotiator may experience or change his or her undertaking which is allowed but fail to communicate the changes to the counterpart or even highlight some of the changes and fail to disclose the other changes. Also trust may decrease in the negotiation process if one party fails to inform the other party about the material facts. For example, if the negotiator grants another group the responsibility for the resources that are the main subject of present negotiation existence.

Types of trust and implications in the process of negotiation

The work of Pavlenko and Blackledge (2004) show that confidence in a negotiation process is evolutionary just like negation that involves dynamic exchanges with the parties hoping to end the deal well as it began.

Deterrence based trust

Jensen (2013) has drawn attention to the fact that deterrence based is the core level of confidence that has minimal conditions. Parties apply the faith mostly at the beginning of the process where one party believe that the other party will adhere and keep the promises established. Punishments act as the tool for enforcing basic trust among the groups. The trust is also known as calculus based trust because the trust also acts in ensuring rewarding of the party that kept the promise. Calculus-based trust can be built through the parties meeting the expectations of the other party, adhering to the commitments and maintaining a reputation that is trustworthy.

Knowledge-based trust

Vlaar (2008) makes clear that this type of trust occurs when one party belief that can be able to predict with certainty the behaviour of the counterpart that develops by acquiring knowledge about the other party’s motives, the tendency of habits, intentions and preferences. Knowledge-based can be encouraged through maintenance of consistency, learning more from the perspective of the other party and enhanced communication with the other group to predict the action of the other group. Verifying and affirming the data acquired by the other party enhances trust (Fells& Ray, 2009).

Identification-based trust

Identification-based trust occurs when the groups have developed a strong relationship. According to Jensen (2013), identification based is the most reliable type of trust. Development of attractive emotions and attraction by one party toward the other group, identifying and identifying with the other group and the capacity and willingness to represent the other side in case of being absent characterise the trust.

Roles of faith in negotiation

Trust as an independent variable

The work of Ury and William (1993) reveal that trust affects three different components of negotiation as an independent variable. The components affected are reciprocity, sharing of information and turning points. Trust facilitate sharing of information among the groups as a way of ensuring well understanding among the parties the negotiating interest and position of the other group leading to improved cooperation between the groups. Reliability of trust plays a role in protecting the weak side, the predictability of confidence in negotiation process affect the low-medium power groups and empathy helps the low and high powered groups. According to Ury and William (1993), turning point means the activities that divert direction of negotiation and can be positive or even negative. Turning point has importance in negotiation such as finding that high trust when the contracting parties receive positive turning points. The argument about reciprocity is that if in the negotiation process one party sends a significant amount of information and understanding, the second group would reciprocate the amount sent with larger ones as a way of demonstrating trust.

Trust as a dependent variable

Some studies view faith as a dependent variable during the negotiation for example on the features of information sharing. As Ury and William (1993) record, if one party exchanges information and an integrative outcome become possible, the other group will trust him or her more.

Trust as a moderator variable

Referring to the work of Lewicki, Roy, Bruce Barry and David Saunders (2016), it is evident that trust moderates the relationship between the parties in a negotiation process. Vlaar (2008) asserts that anger from one side leads to the emergence of distrust that encourages the negotiator to avoid the goal of cooperation and be competitive including the desire to have authority over the other group. Trust helps the negotiator to focus cooperative goal.

Making negotiator trustworthy

Research by Jensen (2013) shows that negotiators use three distinct judgemental measures to evaluate the trustworthiness of the other negotiator. The measures include perceived ability, benevolence and integrity.

Perceived ability

Perceived ability can be illustrated using three aspects of competence that is; knowing the common issues for consideration in the process of negotiation, being knowledgeable about the area in which the negotiation will occur and having the right skills to negotiate properly.

Perceived benevolence

Demonstration of benevolence by the negotiating parties relates to well treatment of the counterpart in the negotiation process. The negotiator is viewed as trustworthy if he or she respect the interest of the other negotiator and strive to assist the other party to achieve the interests.

Perceived integrity

As Lewicki, Roy, Bruce Barry and David Saunders (2016) postulate, actions that show integrity include speaking the truth, adhering to the promises, being committed and embracing the principles of ethics in the process of negotiation. Showing integrity during negotiation makes the negotiator trustworthy.


Over the course of the study, I have discussed trust in the process of negotiation, tips in establishing trust during negotiation, the importance of confidence in the process, causes of distrust or decrease in trust among the negotiating parties, types of trust in negotiation and also ways of making the negotiator trustworthy during negotiation. I find the concept of confidence being useful as I consider my trust in a negotiation set up aiming to improve the system.


Docherty,Jayne S (2004).The little book of Strategic Negotiation: Negotiation Turbulent Times. Intercourse, PA: Good Books.

Fells, & Ray. (2009). Effective Negotiation. Cambridge University Press.

Jensen, K. (2013). The trust factor: Negotiating in SMARTnership. N.p.

Lee, C. (2007). The new rules of international negotiation: Building relationships, earning trust, and creating influence around the world. Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press.

Lewicki, Roy J., Bruce Barry, and David M. Saunders(2016) Essentials of negotiation . (6th ed). New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin

Pavlenko, A., & Blackledge, A. (2004). Negotiation of identities in multilingual contexts. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. N.p.

Ury, William (1993). Getting Past No. Negotiation in Difficult Situations. New York:Bantam Books

Vlaar, P. W. (2008). Contracts and trust in alliances: Discovering, creating and appropriating value. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. N.p.

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