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June 21, 2017

Your Top Tips for Negotiating a Win-Win Outcome

Ed Pearcey

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What exactly is a win-win negotiation? Put simply, it's a way of finding a solution to a problem that's acceptable to all the parties involved, leaving everyone feeling that they've won something.

You may need to brush up on your win-win negotiation skills if you feel someone is repeatedly taking advantage of you. Or, perhaps you’re constantly having to fight hard to get the deal you want.

Playing "Hardball"

The style and conduct of a negotiation can depend heavily on its circumstances. If you're not expecting to deal with the other people again (say, when you're buying a house), it may be appropriate to "play hardball" and try to get a "win" at their expense.

Or during a large-scale negotiation (a corporate merger, for example), it may be appropriate to use "gamesmanship," ploys, and pre-arranged tactics to gain an advantage.

Conducting a Win-Win Negotiation

However, these approaches aren't particularly useful for resolving disputes with people who you have an ongoing relationship with. They can both undermine trust and create bad feeling. Honesty and openness are almost certainly better ways to conduct talks when you wish to maintain a good working relationship with your colleagues.

So, how do you conduct a negotiation and ensure that the conclusion is a win-win? And what motivates you to do so?

We decided to throw these questions out to you, our friends, followers and contacts on social media. We wanted to hear your top tips for a win-win negotiation process. As usual, we were delighted by the quantity and quality of your responses. Here's a selection of them.

Listening and Understanding

Facebook friend Tina Renay Weiss says that you should start "by really listening to understand the perspective and ideas of the other parties."

Paula Chatfield suggests "understanding that both parties have things that their deal needs to achieve, and working together to get them. That mutual respect translates not only into a win-win negotiation of terms, but also a healthier approach to contract negotiation and implementation, making everything simpler, happier and quicker/less costly for everyone. It's relationship- and reputation-building."

Another Facebook friend, Hugh J. Keenan, suggested that, if possible, it's "good to get to know the people you are negotiating with… it doesn't mean you have to be friends, but if you reach a 'roadblock' then human qualities make the difference."

Have an Open Mind

On LinkedIn, Deborah Taiwo suggests that you should take the other person's point of view into consideration and "listen with an open mind."

Matthew Wolfe argues you should seek to "understand your peers needs and allow yourself to present an open perspective. Reciprocate the key points that are discussed and listen actively."

Staying with LinkedIn, Amy Wischmann advocated believing in the power of active listening, having an open mind, but "be prepared to state your desired outcomes in a thoughtful and reasoned manner."

Finally, Marcus Burton suggests you'll need to "always have a clear objective, know your negotiables, and acknowledge the other person's points."

Not Too Late to Comment

Thank you to everyone who took the time to send in their top tips, and our apologies to those people whose replies did not get a mention this time.

If you have any other suggestions or advice that you'd like to share, it's not too late – you can still have your say by adding your comments in the box below. And for more ideas, check out our article on Win-Win Negotiation, or our associated video, here.

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