The process of reaching agreement in negotiations does not necessarily take place in a single negotiation step. Rather, it is typical for negotiations to consist of various negotiation episodes. For example, the negotiating parties meet several times to negotiate, drive the negotiation process forward between meetings through preliminary discussions by telephone or e-mail, or inform the other negotiating party by sending additional documents in writing. Negotiation episodes therefore also always represent a communication process and can take very different forms.
One criterion for differentiating negotiation episodes is the degree of latency. A distinction is made between open and latent negotiations. In latent negotiation episodes, the actors are not aware that they are in a negotiation situation and communication is therefore usually informal. Deliberately allowing negotiation episodes to proceed latently can be a successful negotiation tactic. By not communicating to the negotiating partner that one is already in a negotiation situation, it often becomes easier to agree on important pre-determinations or even to obtain concessions. Moreover, the use of latent (“covert”) negotiation episodes is intended to cleverly strengthen one’s own negotiating position. The NAP is therefore researching how companies can design and use latent negotiation episodes to optimize negotiation outcomes. At the same time, negotiators are to be sensitized to the influence of the other side and enabled to use it tactically for their own benefit.