CPG Series Post: Autonomy as a Pillar of Negotiation

In September we looked at the importance of Appreciation in negotiation. We later explored Affiliation and how important working together can be in negotiation.  Today we will cover Autonomy, the third of our ongoing series on the Pillars of Negotiation.

Stop reading! (Now!)

Did you stop? Of course not! It is possible you love our blog so much there is no way you would stop reading. Or maybe you kept on reading out of spite that we told you to stop. Regardless, we don’t like being told what to do and what not to do when they are in the scope of our own decision-making. This is the example the Fisher and Shapiro use to highlight exactly what they mean by autonomy. This is the ability to make your own decisions and to have some degree of authority over what happens in your life.

Photo by Josh Hallett

Photo by Josh Hallett

This doesn’t apply only to work situations, but also to interpersonal relationships or even with outside authority. Have you ever considered why airport security tends towards otherwise reasonable people feeling hostile? It is because of the infringement on Autonomy.

How can we use this pillar in negotiations? The most important aspect of Autonomy is being aware of it. The proverbial “don’t want to step on any toes”is perfectly applicable to how to handle Autonomy. In the context of the warfighter, this knowledge and awareness is paramount in a negotiation. Consider counter insurgency operations and how important it is to defer to the authority of the elders. Recommendations are usually welcome, but deciding can be a slightly grey area.

Autonomy is the most relatable of the pillars of negotiation. Every reader here could probably give an example of a time when his or her Autonomy was infringed on. Even if the task doesn’t actually change anything but instead alters or limits the scope of authority, it can cause great offense. Another way of looking at might be called micromanaging.

Consider another delicate aspect. Expanding your Autonomy is likely to infringe on the Autonomy of others. Act wisely and you may be able to mitigate this through consulting before deciding.


Fisher, R., & Shapiro, D. (2005). Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate. New York: The Penguin Group.

Photo Credit

Photo Credit



About the Author:


Cognitive Performance Group, LLC is a woman-owned small business with offices in Orlando, Florida, and Cleveland, Ohio. It was founded by Dr. Karol G. Ross, Jennifer K. Phillips, and William A. Ross. The three CPG Principals developed the concept for a company to support cognitive performance improvement in industry and government. (more...)

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