To understand the principle in a better way, let’s begin with a story: two kids wanted to share a cake. However, neither of them wanted to let the other one cut the slices, out of fear that they will remain with less than half. In that moment, their mother entered the door and said : “It really does not matter which one of you will cut the cake, as long as it is the other one who will choose his slice.” And after that, the cake was equally shared.
When people negotiate, there is a good chance their desires are not opposed. They can both win if they focus more on solving the problem then winning over each other. Thinking win-win can be a bit more difficult in some situations, but we have to agree that turning a win-lose situation into a win-win situation is a master move for a negotiator. Not only would he obtain what he was after, but he would also gain a connection he could later use. Since every person is unique, the needs of the would-be opponents can be harmonized.
We previously stated that the negotiation is an activity in which each side tries to satisfy its own needs. But curiously, the true needs go beyond appearances, either because the negotiators hide them, or because they do not recognize them. In consequence, it is not just about money, prices, services, products, concessions. The subject itself and the way in which it is discussed are used to satisfy psychological needs. A negotiation is more than a trade of materials, it is a way of acting and behaving that can initiate understanding, acceptance, respect and trust. Voice tonality, attitude, the approaching manner and the care you show for the feelings and needs of the other person are very important.
All of this represents the negotiation process. In conclusion, the way you choose to obtain your objective can be the answer to the needs of the other people involved in the negotiation.
Let’s look at some techniques we can use in the negotiation process to turn it into a win-win situation:
1 Use the process to answer a need
– Try to see things form the other person’s point of view. Even if your negotiation partners are full of negativity, they will be disarmed in front of a sincere and positive attitude. Listen to what they are saying and be empathetic.
– Try to stay away from tough and definitive words, the way you speak can directly influence the response you will receive. A good way to nuance your speaking is to begin your sentences by saying something like “I thought I heard you saying that…”. All will be good if you see the other person as an ally in solving an issue. When you approach someone with a proper attitude, that person will tend to accept the role that suits your needs best.
As an example, Herb Cohen describes in his book “You can Negotiate Anything” how he managed to get a newspaper even if he only had a 10 $ bill, a task his friend failed to accomplish (in a bad way) that very morning. The author went to the newspaper seller with a humble attitude, asking for some guidance. The seller gave him the newspaper for free, asking only to come back when he got some change.
2 Understand the Conflict
Imagine this. During the break of a football game, the captain of the team is convinced that an action move is the best way to score a goal, but the trainer insists they should focus on free kicks. They both have the same objective – winning the game – but each one sees another way to get there.
The first thing to do in this kind of situations is to reiterate the common goal. All the people involved in the negotiation must see themselves as a team working to solve problems.
The second thing to do is to see what exactly is causing the conflict and find similarities between different kind of approaches. Once the cause is identified and some similarities in the approach are observed, it is easier to move into a win-win negotiation. The conflict is usually caused by divergent information (in which case more explanation is required) or the roles the negotiation players are in (in which case you may want to put yourself in the place of the other person for a moment).
A successful, collaborative negotiation has its roots in the effort of identifying the real goal of the other person and reveal to him the way in which he can achieve it, while you also achieve your goal.