AI is becoming smarter and being utilised in our daily lives, whether we realise it or not. You may be wondering at what stage AI will be able to do your job or if you can use AI to manage the menial parts of your day-to-day. If negotiation is part of your role, you may have even thought about AI negotiating for you. If AI can make multiple calculations and project scenarios in a fraction of a second, can it negotiate for me?
I expect that you will have encountered or seen a version of artificial intelligence (AI) at some point. You may have asked Siri or Alexa what the weather will be tomorrow, used Chat GPT to summarise an article, or even watched Terminator or Tron. Internet chatter would suggest that the introduction of AI into our daily lives means that our day-to-day will never quite be the same again. As we speak, organisations are starting to invest heavily into AI, and as someone with a focus on negotiation training, I’ve been wondering how far AI will be implemented when it comes to negotiations. Is the expectation that, in the future, negotiations will be an automated transaction, correct? Is it likely that instead of two people negotiating, two AI will be a crucial part of dealmaking? If AI can make multiple calculations and project scenarios in a fraction of a second, can it negotiate for me?
From my experience with AI so far, there are obvious benefits to ensuring better productivity and making the best use of your time and resources. The ultimate question at this point, is trying to assess how far AI can take us when it comes to handing over the reins of our negotiations. Let’s talk about the long-term implications of AI in negotiations and the risks that come with placing our faith in it.
Limited Practical Impact
A huge benefit of AI is its ability to quickly gather and organise data. There is undoubtedly the potential to use it to help us better prepare for our negotiations. However, its practical impact on negotiations may be limited and not the silver bullet we hope it will be. If we’re considering how important the relationship element is in our long-term negotiations, there is an argument that the complexity of human interactions, the subtleties of negotiation strategies, and the importance of emotional intelligence are too challenging for AI to replicate effectively. Yes, AI can make quick decisions, but will it make the right ones for your business if it’s just thinking about the short term?
Resistance from Human Negotiators
Negotiations are unpredictable, but we can use AI to help predict any possible responses we may get and test our arguments in advance. On the other hand, some negotiators might be hesitant to trust AI completely, particularly when dealing with sensitive or highly nuanced negotiations that require a deep understanding of human emotions and cultural nuances. If we do start to replace people with AI entirely, how will someone respond if they figure out they are negotiating with an AI? Reliance on AI could result in a breakdown of trust and rapport, essential components in successful negotiations that hinge on the ability to connect on a human level.
AI’s Lack of Adaptive Creativity
Simulating scenarios and role-playing strategies is a useful advantage of AI; being able to assess and test out your strategies in real time before you even step into a negotiation. While AI can analyse data and propose strategies based on patterns, it may struggle to respond to unexpected or unprecedented situations effectively. Negotiations often require dynamic thinking, adaptability, and creativity, qualities that AI may lack, especially if decisions need to be made with detailed knowledge of business history, internal processes, etc. needing to be considered.
There is a lot to benefit from utilising AI in general, but will organisations ever become too dependent on AI in their negotiations? It could be argued that overreliance on AI tools may diminish the development of essential negotiation skills among human negotiators, leading to a potential loss of expertise in the long run. Once a business relies on an AI model to do the heavy lifting, is that business now more open to a data breach, a hack or at the mercy of AI model price increases? The future is quite uncertain in this regard. If the market expands and becomes more competitive, can a competitor get a ‘‘better’’ AI and have an advantage over your chosen investment?
Costs and Accessibility
There are costs associated with integrating AI into a business, the question is whether the costs are worth the results. Beyond the financial costs, there is also the need for training and expertise to utilise AI effectively and get the most out of it. Will the constant upgrading of AI tools become a never-ending ‘‘money pit’’? The accessibility gap in AI technology may also widen existing inequalities in negotiation capabilities. If the skills of your negotiators don’t align with the AI, then real-world results could be less than desired.
The potential transformation of the traditional negotiation mentality could be on the horizon. As organisations increasingly invest in AI technologies, the future of negotiations raises intriguing questions. Will negotiations become automated transactions? Is it possible that AI will replace human negotiators altogether? While AI offers undeniable benefits, it’s clear that there are significant limitations and implications to consider.
Relationship-based negotiations require a human element, something an AI cannot replace. AI has no common sense, wisdom or empathy which is sometimes needed in negotiations. Using AI as a productivity tool instead of a replacement to aid you in your negotiations is more of a realistic prospect. This depends on how creative you are with it; it can’t replicate you and how you think, but it can help you with exploring ideas, giving you a starting point and saving you time with preparation and contracts.
The advantages of incorporating AI in negotiations are clear, but it’s less clear how far we should let AI off the leash when it comes to the responsibility it should have. It seems likely that AI will continue to grow and play a more significant role in future business negotiations, but striking the right balance between AI and human capabilities will be the key to its successful integration and the preservation of the art of negotiation as we know it.
Just remember, anything you utilise AI for, it uses to learn and grow. So think about what company data you choose to share with it…
About the Author
Daniel Freeman is a Senior Consultant for Scotwork International in Ireland, providing negotiation training and consultancy to executives and organisations across multiple sectors. He has trained a wide range of global and local organisations, assessing their internal negotiation capabilities and developing strategies to roll out negotiation initiatives throughout various business infrastructures. Daniel’s negotiation experience was shaped by working in the optics industry for 8 years, holding key managerial positions at Hoya Vision Care tasked with negotiating new contracts, business expansion and acquisition, and creating new channels of distribution across Ireland.