Win-Win Negotiation: Mastering the Art

win win negotiationIf you have ever been in a position to negotiate for something, like a salary raise, you must have entered the negotiation table hoping to land the deal that would best favor you. Probably, you didn’t care whether the other party was getting an equal slice of the cake in return. While this approach, also known as win-lose negotiation, may provide short-term relief, it doesn’t confer any sustainable benefits. The best approach, one that is more positive, is known as win-win strategy.

Recently, a growing number of businesses are pushing for a more partnering or collaborative relationships with their suppliers, workers and other stakeholders. By ensuring everyone is happy, executives know that the company’s bottom line is impacted positively. Picture this: A supplier may opt to sell raw materials to your business at a price that doesn’t benefit him or her much. However, once another buyer comes along and offers a great price, that supplier won’t focus on giving you quality raw materials or service anymore. Hence, it is very prudent to establish win-win relationships during the negotiation stages.

Basics of Win-Win Negotiation

You need to grasp the fact that a good or otherwise talented negotiator isn’t one who is focused on scoring points or gaining an upper advantage. Therefore, aim to seek consensus with the other party and follow the basics outlined below:

1. Before Negotiation Starts:

Before you sit down on the negotiation table, note down the various alternatives you may have. For example, if you are negotiating for raw materials, go with two or three catalogues given by other suppliers. Since you have the other next-best choices available, you will be more objective during the negotiation session.

Bring with you supporting documentation and audiovisual materials that will help you put your points across more clearly. Let your interests be known by the other party; actually, you may be delightfully surprised to note that the counterparty can meet them sufficiently. Make sure you quickly grasp the personality of the other party; if it’s your boss or someone else you know, you can be able to predict how he or she will respond during the negotiation.

2. Once Negotiation Begins:

In this stage, make sure both let each other know the ground rules and the agenda. Apart from creating a businesslike atmosphere for the talks, these introductory remarks can help you grasp the approach and the attitude of the counterparty. Avoid rushing to state your demands and end up forgetting to listen to what the other party has to say. After all, negotiation is more about problems solved, not battles fought.

Make sure you listen to both what is and what is not said in order to learn about the concerns and interests of the counterparty. If need be, make sure you ask questions in order to validate your understandings or assumptions.

3. In the Early Stages of Negotiation:

Early into the discussion, make sure you clarify the main interests of every party and try to comprehend their needs, not their positions only.  Make sure you determine who has the authority to make decisions for the other party. Make sure you define the expectations and preconditions, for example, is there a budget or specific task that must be met? Collect as much information as you can to arrive at the various competing alternatives, and list down the options that can meet the other party’s expectations should you fail to agree in unison.

4. In the Course of Negotiation:

As the negotiation proceeds, brainstorm and try devising new alternatives that are mutually beneficial to everyone. Don’t shrug away or judge the new alternatives that are being created as they may help you come with newer ideas. Make sure the counterparty is aware of the fact that you have other alternatives. Use objective facts to boost your negotiation position while at the same time querying the significance or weaknesses of the other party’s information. For example, in a job interview, you can ask a question such as “Is experience required in the job when I served in a similar role with more responsibilities?”

5. At Conclusion of the Discussions:

As you wrap up the discussions, make sure the solution is win-win. Don’t consider yourself successful until you have fully satisfied both your interests and that of the other party. Make sure every party fully agrees to abide by the agreement, and list down the consequences for not complying with it. List down the responsibilities of everyone with regard to the agreement, document the agreements and have the persons responsible sign them.

Once you are through with the negotiations and the associated paperwork, ensure you both (together with the counterparty) follow up on each other to monitor the implementation of the agreement. Lastly, when dealing with difficult persons, don’t respond to provocative comments. Instead, speak to them calmly and ask them how their suggested solutions can help solve the issue at hand.

Tips for Successful Win-Win Negotiation

Now, let’s have a look at the key tips listed below that you should follow for successful win-win negotiation;

1. Expand your Negotiation Vocabulary

Whether you are in a legal or medical setting, you will instantly note that the parties involved in a discussion are using jargon to communicate and understand each other. This also applies to a negotiation session. Make sure you master the vocabulary of win-win negotiation in every session that you will have the opportunity to engage in. Use the skills learnt in negotiations that you fared well to those that you are weak in.  So grab any opportunity that you can get to participate in a negotiation; since the more you practice the art, the better you will become.

2. Stick to your Interests, Not your Positions

Avoid being rigid and drawing lines in the sand in ways that kills the negotiation. While the other party’s interests may not be opposite of yours, use collaborative words such as ‘us’ and ‘we’ more as opposed to terms such as ‘me’ and ‘less’. This helps you change your mindset from one that seeks to claim value to one that thinks more about creating value for all parties in the negotiation.

3. Take into Consideration the Other Party’s Social and Cultural Norms

Make sure you deeply research and understand the culture, age groups or backgrounds of the individuals you will be negotiating with. What may seem respectful and okay to one group may be interpreted as an offense by another. If in doubt, let the other party break the ice and list their negotiation terms. Note that what the counterparty talks about first may be the least important matter, most important or even non-negotiable.

4. Salary Negotiation 

Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Actually, people fear negotiating for; let’s say a salary raise or a promotion, due to the fear that they may be perceived as selfish or greedy. The opposite is true; most organizations value this as a positive trait. Most employers would rather have their workers approach an issue professionally than not discuss it at all. It shows the employer that you have the initiative and also provides the company with useful information. You can learn how to negotiate for a raise in this course.

5. Listen

During the negotiation, make sure that you listen carefully and avoid rushing into conclusions.Avoid being passive; ask questions if you need to clarify anything. This, along with studying the other party’s body language, helps you understand hidden meanings.