Affiliation is the second pillar of emotional negotiation. Generally, in negotiation or mediation sessions, we are quick to judge the other party as an adversary rather than a partner. Often, both parties can come to a more amiable solution with better outcomes on both sides if they are not constantly pushing back at one another because they automatically assume their interests cannot align. This could be likened to the famous Prisoners’ Dilemma, in which the most successful outcomes only happen where two or more parties work together.
One of the most common strategies for successful negotiations is to mitigate the time and resources used towards a favorable outcome. Obviously, all parties have interests that need to be addressed and the less time it takes to get there is usually seen as a positive outcome by all parties involved.
To get to a place where parties are willing to work together, they must build Affiliation. One way to build Affiliation is to look for common links with the other party/parties involved so that the dispute is not the only common factor. A great way to build rapport is to discuss personal topics. Some examples of topics that encourage Affiliation are family, soliciting advice, or personal concerns or plans for the future. On the other hand, for a less personal topic, appropriate topics are favorite TV shows, music, or foods. While the latter topics are easy to discuss, they promote emotional distance between parties involved.
Affiliation can be a key advantage to have when working towards mediation or conflict resolution. Keeping this knowledge up your sleeve may be the difference between a successful negotiation and a long, painful, or otherwise avoidable process.
Fisher, R., & Shapiro, D. (2005). Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate. New York: The Penguin Group.