Year To Success

Lesson 43: Create a Win-Win Situation

There is only one kind of successful negotiation; it is the kind where both parties come out ahead. I really do not like using the word “win” because that implies a game of some sort where there are winners and losers. Negotiation occurs everywhere in life and life is not a game. To be a successful negotiator, you must have the other person’s interests in mind as well as your own.

People negotiate with their spouses, family members and friends as well as in business. Consider this all too common negotiation session between my 4-year-old daughter and me.

My Daughter: “Daddy? Can I have some ice-cream?”
Me: “You have barely eaten your dinner. If you want dessert, you need to finish your dinner.”
My Daughter: “But I am not hungry. My tummy says ‘No more food!’“
Me: “Then your tummy does not want dessert either”
My Daughter: “No, there is room in there for ice-cream only.”
Me: “Okay, then just finish your chicken.”
My Daughter: “How about three more bites?”
Me: “Seven bites!”
My Daughter: “Four bites!”
Me: “Five BIG bites and finish your milk.”
My Daughter: “Okay, Daddy.”

You can see, in this negotiation session both parties came out ahead. My daughter got her dessert, and I made sure she had eaten most of her meal, which she would otherwise not have eaten. This was a successful negotiation.

If you are the type that went “for the jugular” and got as much as you could from a negotiation, you may THINK you have “won,” but you will end up losing in the long run. Here are a few reasons why this is true.

  • Resentment. This is especially important to avoid in a negotiation with someone with whom you are in regular contact. When you have the upper hand in a negotiation, and you abuse that power by forcing a win-lose outcome, ill feelings and resentment ultimately follow resulting in a poor relationship. These “grudges” are often very damaging later on in the relationship.
  • Short-lived victory. When one is pressured to give away more than one can actually afford, disaster ultimately follows. For example, you may one day be in a negotiation with a poor negotiator who does not think well under pressure. This person may agree to give you all you are asking for, only later not being able to deliver on the promise. A good example of this is a partner in business who negotiates a much larger share of the business than deserved. The “losing” partner later realizes that she cannot make it with such a small share and is forced to quit. The business then collapses, and both parties lose big because of the greed of the other.
  • What goes around, comes around. You may be able to get away with taking advantage of someone once, maybe even a few times, but eventually it will come right back to you.

The key is to approach each negotiation as a partnership rather than a competition. Treat those you are negotiating with as partners and not adversaries. Remember that you are interested in the same common goal—a mutually beneficial arrangement or a win-win situation.