How Can You Find A “Win-Win” Solution In Your Next Negotiation?

Negotiators need to know how to create win-win situations during a negotiation
Negotiators need to know how to create win-win situations during a negotiation
Image Credit: Alex Russell

As negotiators, what we would all like to be able to do during each of our negotiations is to find a way to create a “win-win” situation. These are the negotiations in which both sides emerge feeling that they got a good deal in the end no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques were used. However, finding this kind of solution to a negotiation can be a real challenge. What we need are ways to make this happen even in even the trickiest negotiations.

Try Joint Fact-Finding

In order to be able to achieve a win-win outcome for your next negotiation, you need to take the time to think about things from the other side’s point-of-view. Specifically, we need to understand that when what we want to get out of a negotiation is something that threatens the status quo, the opposition from the other side may be fierce. When this happens, it’s natural that you might think that the key to a win-win deal is to try to enlighten your counterparts about how the proposed goal will further the common good.

The bad news here is that it turns out that this view is flat-out wrong. Studies have shown that when you communicate one-sided information about a project’s merits, you’ll come across as arrogant and oblivious to the other party’s concerns. Don’t do this!

A different way to go about doing this is to hold a joint fact-finding process. This will end up providing a better path to a win-win situation. This type of process begins by involving negotiators in a collaborative exploration of a project’s merits during its earliest stages. Outside experts can lend help before everyone begins taking sides. In situations where parties are likely to disagree about the fundamental issues at stake, getting some outside help for an unbiased view of the facts can be an important first step toward reaching a win-win deal.

Create More Value Through Trades

When we are in a negotiation and we are trying to figure out how we can create a win-win solution for both sides, one promising strategy is to look for ways to find more value through trades. The first step in this process is to prepare to present multiple proposals—all of which you value highly—to the other side all at the same time. Their reactions to these proposals will help you better gauge their preferences across multiple issues.

Your next step needs to be to ask lots of questions to directly assess their interests while at the same time revealing your own. The final step is to make hypothetical “What if…” proposals in order to see if a trade genuinely creates value for both sides. An example of this would be saying “If I offered you a 20% discount on our product, would that be enough of an incentive for you to switch from our competitor’s product?”

Try Contingent Agreements

One of the biggest problems that we run into during a negotiation is that we can’t quite tell what is going to happen in the future. Both sides think that they know, but nobody is 100% sure how things are going to turn out. This can lead to an impasse happening in your next negotiation. One way to deal with this situation that can get things moving again is to come up with what is called a “contingent agreement”. A contingent agreement — a negotiated “if, then” deal that is aimed at reducing risk about future uncertainty—offers a way for both parties to agree to disagree—and achieve a win-win situation for the negotiation.

To use this tool, begin by having both sides write out their own scenarios of how they expect the future to unfold. Once you have this, you can then negotiate expectations and requirements that seem appropriate to each scenario. The last thing that you are going to want to do is to include both the scenarios and the negotiated repercussions and rewards in your contract.

What All Of This Means For You

The goal of any principled negotiation is to find a way to create a deal that both sides view as being “win-win”. This type of deal is one in which everyone believes that they got what they wanted to get out of the negotiation. The problem that most of us run into is that these types of deal can be very difficult to create. However, it turns out that there are a number of techniques that we can use to turn our next negotiation into a win-win scenario.

When what we are asking the other side goes against the status quo, we need to understand that the worst thing that we can do is to try to explain to the other side why we are right and they are wrong. A better way is to bring in an outside expert and do some fact finding. We should also come equipped to make multiple simultaneous offers to the other side. Once we have their feedback on these offers, we can start to engage in some “what if” discussions to find a deal that will work with them. If it turns out that both sides have a different view of the future, then perhaps a contingent agreement is called for. This will allow different scenarios to be included in the contact with different obligations depending on what happens.

The good news is that it is possible to create a win-win outcome to a negotiation. However, as negotiators we need to have a good understanding of the type of an agreement that we want. We then have to use the techniques that we have discussed to create a solution that will meet the needs of both sides.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: When you are going to bring an outside expert into a negotiation, do you think they should have a relationship with either side?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Negotiator Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Negotiator Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

If we want to become better negotiators, how can we go about doing this? It turns out that the best bargaining tips should offer ways to enhance your bargaining power in negotiation no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are being used. If we want to make this happen, then we must cultivate a strong BATNA, or best alternative to a negotiated agreement. As you can well imagine, the more appealing your best alternative is, the more comfortable you will feel asking for more in your current negotiation – you will be secure in the knowledge that you have a good alternative option waiting in the wings. BATNA development is more complex than just searching for a good Plan B. Let’s talk about bargaining tips and strategies for negotiators seeking to improve their BATNA.