The phrase “win-win” is looking pretty ragged along about now. How about if we talk about the much more meaningful “both win” strategy for negotiating?
The key to creating a successful both-win negotiation is to remember that at its heart, negotiation is all about sharing value between both parties. If it was as simple as that, we really wouldn’t need this blog! However, as human beings we often use one of two different approaches when we enter into a negotiation: competitive mode or cooperative mode. Can you guess which mode most of us enter a negotiation with?
When we are in the competitive mode, we focus on who is currently getting how much of the pie. When we are in the cooperative mode, we focus on trying to make the pie larger so that everyone will walk away with more. Clearly the cooperative mode is the route to creating a both-win deal for both parties.
So all of this discussion leads to the big discussion: how can we go about creating a both-win deal when we always seem to start out in competitive mode? The answer is that we need to start asking ourselves the right types of questions. Specifically, we need to ask the questions that will allow us to find out what things can be changed that will allow both sides of the table’s interests better. A good example of how to do this is when you start to talk about schedules for what you are negotiating. If you can either receive or deliver the thing that is being negotiated earlier, later, or maybe all at one time or even in parts then all of a sudden there is additional value to share with both parties.
One additional way to cause this shift in negotiating modes to occur is to find a way to communicate to the other side of the table that you really WANT to reach an agreement with them, not that you HAVE to. Doing this and helping them feel good about it will go a long way towards allowing you to reach your negotiating goals.
If you are able to shift the negotiation from the competitive mode to the cooperative mode, then you will have greatly improved your chances of reaching a negotiated agreement. It’s not always easy to do, but I think that you’ll find the results well worth the effort.
What mode do you start your negotiations in: competitive or cooperative? Do you try to shift modes during the negotiation? Have you ever been able to do this successfully? How did the negotiation turn out? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.