How to achieve a Win/Win result in negotiations?

Many conversations are negotiations. 

Controversial? Not really. People state their opinion or thoughts and the other person either agrees or disagrees. If they disagree, they refute your opinion with reasons why they don’t agree, and attempt to convince you that they are right.

A negotiation then, simplified, is a conversation.

Yes, it’s a complex conversation involving data and presentations, emails and telephone conversations, late nights and tons of coffee. Sometimes entire teams work on them for months. However, you can apply principles of good, productive conversation to negotiation strategy and come out with a great result.

Why is negotiation so important?

Knowing how to negotiate well is of paramount importance whether angling for a raise or the terms of a new job, collaborating on tasks or closing deals.

It also helps in personal situations.

If you’ve had to discuss curfews with a teenager without implementing the authoritarian approach, you’ll know the importance of negotiation to arrive at a deal.

Anyone who has had to convince a toddler to take a nap also knows about negotiating, but that approach looks a lot like bribery. “I’ll give you a snack after you nap.” 

Of course, the toddler negotiates right back. “I Want Snack NOW!” And truth be told, adults lose a lot more often than not.

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Have you heard of the six paradigms of human interaction?

If you’ve read 7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen R. Covey you’ll be familiar with them.

These 6 paradigms are a set of outcomes that define the result of every negotiation that goes on between two people in any scenario, personal or professional.

  1. Win/Win: You and I both end up happy
  2. Win/Lose: I beat you and I’m happy
  3. Lose/Win: You can have your way and I’ll deal with It
  4. Lose/Lose: If I can’t win, You won’t wither
  5. Win: I win, and I don’t care what happens with you
  6. Win/Win or No Deal: Either we both win, or I walk away.

Depending on the scenario, the mindset you choose to enter an interaction with is important. 

For example, Win/Lose is the mindset in any sport. After all, you want to win, and there can only be one winner in a sport.

In family situations with a Win/Win or No Deal, you focus on finding a solution that benefits all or you’re content to walk away from a negotiation peacefully. This option can prevent hard feelings in business too.

However, when it comes to most cooperative and interdependent relationships, Win/Win is the only option that makes sense.

Here are 4 ways to achieve a Win/Win result

A key way to achieve a Win/Win result is to focus on where you end up, not how you get there, and the problems that need solving, not the people who solve them.

1. Focus on dialogue

A negotiation is a conversation, and any conversation is most effective when it’s carried out between two people. By this I don’t just mean two people present in the discussion, where one talks and the other listens.

A dialogue is a back and forth that exchanges ideas. There are areas of agreement and disagreement, points presented and rebutted, and hopefully by the end of it, with a good outcome, both people understand each other. With a great outcome, they agree with each other, or at least enough to decide on a course of action that works for both.

2. Focus on understanding the opposite perspective

While you may not necessarily agree with someone, in order to work towards a win-win situation, you need to understand where the other person is coming from and what they mean. 

People’s perspectives are coloured by various factors – upbringing, culture, life experiences, work, expectations and sometimes it takes stepping into someone’s shoes to understand why they think the way they do.

3. Focus on understanding the goals and motivation of the opposite party

Sometimes, through understanding someone’s goals and motivation you may realise that you are actually aligned on some or all of what you want to achieve.

The methods of achieving these goals may not be aligned, but the actual end process might be.

4. State your own views and goals clearly and explicitly

You need to express your own views in a negotiation, otherwise the entire exercise switches from being a negotiation to a scenario where it is probably better to cut your losses and walk away.

In order for a Win/Win to succeed, both sides need to feel heard, and that includes you. If you’re doing all the listening without any of the speaking, then the negotiation has already failed.

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What soft skills do you need to cultivate to achieve a Win/Win result?

One way to increase your chances of a Win/Win outcome in a negotiation is through developing certain soft skills.

In our last blog post (link soft skills post), we discussed the importance of soft skills, key soft skills for 2022 and how to hone these skills. Some of those are the same as key skills needed in negotiations.

1. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to share the feelings of someone. To know how they are feeling. 

To take empathy that one step further in a negotiation, add compassion. This way they will know that as someone committed to a Win/Win scenario, you are there to support them and ensure a good outcome for them too.

2. Confidence

Vince Lombardi once said “Confidence is contagious. So is a lack of confidence.”

Luckily confidence is a skill that can be practiced. How? Know. Your. Stuff. 

Or well, know it as much as you can. And if you don’t know the answer to something, have the confidence to admit it, find out the answer and perhaps come back to the discussion with it.

3. Consideration

Consideration goes hand in hand with empathy. Not only do you feel what they are feeling, but you have a regard for their feelings and your actions back it up.Back up your words by your actions.

4. Bravery

Finally, be brave. A dialogue requires two sides, and you need to be brave enough to voice your opinion.

A negotiation is only effective when both sides present their points of view, their motivations and goals and desired outcomes with honesty. If one side feels unable to do that, then a Win/Win is simply not possible.

Negotiation is a skill that is a valuable part of a leader’s toolkit.

The good news is that it can be learned!

Learn leadership skills through our Leadership and Management in New Age Businesses course in partnership with The Wharton School. It’s perfect for CXOs, VPs, MDs, Directors who wish to invest in their careers and themselves and fast-track leadership growth or any middle management that wishes to grow and break into leadership positions.

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