Win-Win Negotiation

From a layman to Brexit leaders, everyone indulge in negotiation of one kind or another. Whatever is the form of profession, business one may engage in, negotiation is an essential skill to have to prosper in that given field. Country heads to party leaders, professionals to service expertise, academicians to students, investors to customers, lawyers to doctors, everyone has to negotiate in one or the other aspects of their personal or professional life.

What’s negotiation? Negotiation is generally defined as – mutual discussion by the parties having certain interest in the issues to resolve the differences and come to an agreement. Negotiation is identified as a method to settle the differences by many corporates in the present world. Negotiation is a self-developed trait than an inherent skill.

Forms: There are certain forms of negotiation too. Various methodologies are used in different forms of issues that may involve corporate disputes, legal transactions, international disputes, union-employer issues, domestic conflicts, etc. Negotiations are not always easy. It’s an art and that requires certain pre-requisites. The good news is, one can acquire these skills and can excel in the same. There are certain key elements that make a negotiation useful, solution oriented and a win-win for the parties involved in it.

Excellent Preparation: Win-win negotiation begins with an excellent preparation, reasonable bargaining and resolution oriented agreement. Satisfying the needs of various parties involved is another key to a win-win negotiation. Negotiation can’t always be one-sided. If it is, then, in the long term, it may boomerang the negotiator. It has to yield mutual benefits. Negotiation will generally happen, when both the parties have something to offer and something to negotiate. If it’s one side leaning, then it may not result in positive outcome. Ultimately, negotiation should ensure a stronger bonding between the parties than a diluted relationship status leading to bitterness. A good preparation will focus on these aspects while sitting for a negotiation.
Focused approach: A win-win negotiation cannot be like social media debate. It should more focus upon resolution than winning the argument or making one’s point prevail. Identification of the key – conflicting areas is the prime requirement for a negotiation. When the issues are identified, you can discuss through your way out for the resolution. A final agreement to implement the points accepted by the parties involved is necessary for a good negotiation to conclude.
Need and Necessity: While deciding to negotiate, the initial analysis of the need and necessity of a negotiation is mandatory. Analyzing the given situation, the points that are in one’s favor, the pros and cons, the possible outcome, the points/clauses that can be compromised or changed based on negotiation. Having a prior list of all these elements will come in handy while negotiating. In addition to these the past negotiations or the future dealings and transactions, a fair amount of awareness of these aspects will add on to one’s negotiation skillset.
Logic and Emotions: Logic and emotions play a significant role in a win-win negotiation. If the logic/reasoning takes the back seat and the emotions take the driver seat, then it may prove harmful to a good negotiation. The negotiator has to balance out between one’s own impulse to win and finding a resolution. In a situation wherein the parties are not willing to take a step or failing to make an attempt to come half way, it’s essential to sense the situation and take a control of the situation. At times, the digression would waste the time and energy of the parties involved. So, it’s vital that parties are concentrated on the resolution and issues to be discussed upon.
Give and Take: There will always be ‘give’ and ‘take’ in a negotiation. If these were absent, then the negotiation wouldn’t occur in the first place. It’s for a party to ascertain these areas, wherein they can really step forward or take a step back and be firm. One has to be flexible and open to the suggestions made by the other party and evaluate its advantages and disadvantages before agreeing on to the same. If it’s taking time, then the parties should decide to take some time and revert later on those ‘identified’ issues.
Alternative Plan: A negation need not always be win-win. Hence prepare to fail too. A negotiation may not always have a positive outcome for the parties. Therefore, one must have an alternative arrangement / another solution, if the negotiation didn’t go as per the initial speculation.
After Negotiation: Parties, once mutually agreed on the points of consensus, shall jot down the course of action for implementation of the agreed issues. This would ease the further process and procedure for the parties. This would also help the parties to identify their path forward.
Summary: Good negotiation will have the following components:

1) An adequate preparation;

2) Identification of the issues involved;

3) Open and positive discussion;

4) Flexibility to the suggestions;

5) ‘Give’ and ‘Take’;

6) Clarity of points, clauses that can be compromised;

7) win-win approach for both the parties;

8) Desire for resolution;

9) Balanced approach between logic/reasoning and emotions;

10) Mutual agreement;

11) Alternatives/Pla n B

12) Implementation Plan


Senior Legal Counsel/Vice President,

Northern Trust,