Checklist: mutual gains negotiation

Negotiations are often part of a social dialogue process. This checklist helps to have a constructive and effective negotiation with sustainable outcomes. Per step of the negotiation process, it shows a checklist of actions.



▢ Agree on how to negotiate e.g. ‘The parties shall negotiate in good faith with a serious intention to reach mutually beneficial agreements’;
▢ Seek to understand the needs, interests, fears, concerns and expectations of the other party and share this with the other parties;
▢ Seek to clarify the issues to be negotiated;
▢ Seek to settle any issues capable of quick and easy settlement;
▢ Share information and request any relevant information needed for the negotiations;
▢ Settle the ground rules and process for the negotiation;
▢ Seek to agree on dates, times and places for the negotiation;
▢ Seek to agree on inclusive negotiation teams.


▢ Determine the composition of the negotiating team with due regard to inclusivity;
▢ Agree on ground rules for the conduct of the negotiating team;
▢ Explore the needs, interests, fears and concerns of all interest groups with due regard to diversity;
▢ Share any relevant information received from the other party with the organization(s)/employees you represent;
▢ Share with the organization(s)/employees you represent the needs, interests, fears, concerns and expectations of the other party;
▢ Endeavor to moderate the organization(s)/employees you represent expectations;
▢ Seek to generate creative options for meeting the needs, interests, fears, concerns and expectations of the other party and for finding mutual gain outcomes;
▢ Seek to obtain flexible mandates from the organization(s)/employees you represent;
▢ Obtain as much relevant information as possible to substantiate the needs and proposals;
▢ Explore and seek to understand what the possible alternatives are to a negotiated agreement.


▢ Introduce the teams to each other;
▢ Settle housekeeping matters which may include:
start and finish times, tea and lunch arrangements, smoking regulations and limits to interruptions
▢ Seek to agree on ground rules for the negotiation which may include;
agreeing to listen carefully and agreeing to speak in turn and not to interrupt one another
▢ Seek to agree on caucus ground rules which may include that;
parties may request caucuses at any time and the party requesting the caucus will leave the room
▢ Reaffirm the commitment to the agreed goal of the negotiation
▢ Agree that all that is said in the negotiation will be off the record unless it is expressly placed on the record.
▢ Confirm that summary notes be kept which will only reflect the attendance, matters which a party has requested to be placed on record and any agreements reached.


▢ Present the proposals and explain the needs, interests, fears, concerns and expectations
▢ Frame issues in a collaborative and solvable way
▢ Explore and seek to understand the proposals, needs, interests, fears, concerns and expectations of the other parties
▢ Exchange relevant information
▢ List and agree on the issues for negotiation
▢ Agree on order of issues to be dealt with (consider starting with easier issues, urgent issues or issues that will help clarify others)
▢ Continue to clarify issues with particular regard to needs, interests, fears, concerns and expectations
▢ Track and focus the discussions
▢ Identify areas of common concern and competing interests


▢ Take each issue at a time, generate as many possible ways of meeting the needs of each party and “making the pie bigger”
▢ Set out all the possible options
▢ Use objective criteria and standards as a basis for evaluating and choosing options
▢ Analyze options to see which ones both parties can accept
▢ Seek to influence and be open to being influenced
▢ Separate and integrate/group issues as necessary
▢ Consider linking and trading issues
▢ Try hypotheticals i.e. ‘what if..?’
▢ Consider creating sub-groups/task teams/commissions to develop proposals
▢ Consider using a single text document to reach consensus
▢ Keep options tentative and conditional until all issues have been agreed
▢ Identify areas of agreement
▢ Package acceptable options into an overall agreement
▢ Minimize formality and record keeping until a final agreement is reached


▢ Draft an agreement
▢ Ensure mutual understanding of the terms of the agreement
▢ Specify who, what, where, when and how an agreement will be implemented
▢ Set out evaluation, implementation and follow-up details
▢ Consider report back procedures including the idea of a joint statement to constituencies
▢ Include procedures in the event of a deadlock
▢ If a final agreement is difficult to arrive at consider agreements in principle, tentative agreements, interim agreements, partial agreements, agreement on goals, agreement on a process
▢ If a final agreement is not possible then reality test, compromise, take a break, discuss alternative ways of reaching an agreement such as the involvement of a third party, capture what has been agreed and narrow what is in dispute

Source: Joint union/ Management negotiation skills: Training for social partners on negotiation skills, 4-day workshop. Turin: International Training Center of the ILO, 2003.