Negotiating Tip #19:
For A Better End Result, Stop Thinking About It
When we go into a negotiation, our natural instinct is to approach it in the spirit of “win-lose” – how can I get the best deal by forcing the other side to make concessions? That can be appropriate in many business situations, for instance, haggling over some standard product with a supplier with whom you will never do business again. In those situations, you want to be assertive, demand as much as you can get, and concede slowly.
But a win-lose mentality can be a barrier to a good deal. It can make us more susceptible to tactics by the other side, such as getting us all worked up about something that does not matter very much and then, by giving way on that point, get us to make a much more significant concession elsewhere.
More important, the win-win approach swamps creative thinking. If all we are thinking about is how to get the other side to concede, we are not paying attention to how the two of us could work together for mutual profit.
Creative negotiators can often find ways to restructure a deal in ways that lead beyond what either side had imagined when the negotiations started. We should always be open to bigger possibilities, rather than just thinking about the initial proposition.
Of course, even if we do come up with a more creative deal, the two sides will still have different interests about how to split the extra value that has now been created. In other words, creative deals may be “win-win” but that does not answer the question about how to divide up the winnings. That may well be an area in which some tough haggling is in order.