Win-win negotiating is nothing new; it has been in practice for centuries. Win-win is the ultimate outcome in any form of negotiations, whether they are personal or business-oriented. While it may not always be possible to satisfy all parties completely, there are methods of reaching a happy medium more often than not.
Many would argue that all parties reaching a satisfactory outcome is, in essence, the entire point of entering negotiations in the first place. Others believe that they should only enter into negotiations for their own benefit, but this will not help them to develop power as negotiators. In fact, if used too often, it ultimately will destroy one's reputation. Win-win is not a myth used to take advantage of others; rather, it is a sound and reasonable way of doing business and winning future deals. In this article, we will discuss how to achieve a win-win situation in nearly every instance. With a little extra effort on the part of both parties, it is entirely possible to reach a mutually beneficial outcome most of the time.
How to Deal with Manipulative Tactics
Just because you walk to the negotiating table with the intent of win-win does not mean all other parties will. How do you know when the other party is simply being manipulative and, more importantly, how do you deal with the other side when you determine that is the case? To know how to properly handle an opponent who is gunning for a clear and complete advantage without any regard for your needs, you first need to identify the difference between negotiation and manipulation.
Negotiation means that both parties are interested in finding the best outcome for all, and they will use all methods available to find that middle ground. Those who manipulate simply are interested in controlling the outcome in any way that will give them a complete advantage and individual benefit.
There really is no secret or mystery when it comes to manipulation tactics. We all know when we are being manipulated; acknowledging the fact is what people avoid. Deal with manipulation head on. Do not deny or ignore it; end it. If you find yourself in a situation such as this, you should first try to set the tone by making it clear that your side is interested only in reaching a mutually beneficial outcome. If the other party seems agreeable and displays an attitude change, then it may be all right to proceed; however, you should keep your guard up and be aware that this simply may be another control tactic on the other party's part.
Alternatively, if the other party is agitated by or trying to avoid agreement to the suggestion of win-win, then it would be wise to simply move on. While this may seem rash and you may be reluctant to do so because what they have to offer seems tempting, consider the options. If you continue negotiating with someone who is only concerned about his or her best interests at the expense of yours, then you essentially are wasting your time. Your time is valuable and can be better spent seeking a situation that would produce results for all involved.
If you continue on with the manipulative party, thinking that you may be able to change the other's attitude, keep in mind that the end result might be frustration and a severed relationship in the end. If you bow out in the beginning in a friendly manner, making clear your desire for a win-win, the other party will have time to consider this option and come back to the table when ready to meet you halfway. In this manner, the relationship can end on a gracious note, and you have made clear how you wish to do business.
Minimizing Conflicts and Deadlocks
Even in the best of negotiating circumstances, when all parties are amiable and desire a successful outcome, problems may arise. Being able to easily minimize conflicts and deadlocks is the mark of a seasoned negotiator and a skill that will grow with experience. Often you will see a conflict coming and be able to head it off before it turns into a full-blown argument, or worse, ends negotiations abruptly. If you see a problem coming, take steps right away to address it. The worst thing you can do is ignore a developing sticky situation.
Creativity often is the key to thwarting an undesirable disagreement. If you see that a particular deal or decision is going to meet opposition, then take steps to find alternative solutions before presenting the deal. Actively seek creative solutions to known problems. The answer may not always be clear at first; but if you put in time and effort and ask for the input of others, you may be surprised to discover that there are more solutions than you ever thought possible.
If things start to get heated, take a break. Do not wait until a full-blown argument has ensued. As soon as tempers seem to be rising, call for lunch or a 15-minute coffee break. This gives everyone a chance to cool off and calm down. Another great idea, and one that is gaining popularity in the business world, is to discuss the hiring of a mediator at the onset of negotiations. An unbiased third party, paid by both sides, will be able to process and present solutions to conflicts in a clear manner, as he or she has no personal interest at stake.
Deadlocks most often occur when one side asks for everything desired up front without allowing for discussion and intermediate banter. A deadlock may also occur when one party will not bend on initial requirements or when expectations are far too high coming in. While many negotiators believe this is the only way to get more of what you want in a negotiation, it also is a sure way to lose out altogether. This type of negotiating is best saved for situations in which a continuing relationship is not desired or at all likely, as is the case when buying or selling a home.
If a relationship with the other party is desired or inevitable, then you and the other party must be willing to give and take to avoid a deadlock situation. If it is your side that has asked for too much, take a break and think about what you might be willing to relinquish. If it is the other side that is asking for too much, consider what you may be willing to bargain for to give something the other party wants while also getting more for your side. Sometimes deadlocks are unavoidable, particularly if one or both sides are being unreasonable. In these situations, it is best to leave the table for another day or move on to something else.
Using Planning and Creativity to Get More of What Everyone Wants
If you plan well and give thought to the points that will be coming up during negotiations, the process will go much more smoothly in general. Be sure to have clear and reasonable arguments to support your requests and requirements. If you cannot explain to the other side exactly why you want what you want and why you should have it, do not sit down at the negotiating table. Knowledge is clearly a strong advantage when entering any negotiation. This does not just apply to knowledge about the other party. You must also have apparent knowledge about your own side of the issue.
Are you asking for a higher salary? Then you should have distinct reasons why this request is justifiable.
Have you thought about the questions the other side may ask and what your response will be? To best persuade the other side to accept your reasoning, you must put yourself in the opposing position. Literally think of all the reasons that party would resist your requests and find a logical reason why the other party should say yes instead. If you cannot find substantive arguments to support your desires, then perhaps you should re-think your demands. Be creative in this process, find all the options, and keep your mind open to ideas that will give everyone the respective desired outcome and need. If a higher salary is what you want and need, but you cannot find current examples of why it is in the best interest of the other side to give it to you, offer to do something in the near future that will justify this request.
What can you deliver that will be beneficial and make the other party believe that yes is the right answer for both sides in the negotiation? Come up with creative possibilities before entering negotiations; this way, you are offering solutions rather than simply making demands. Be clear about what you have to offer and how much you are willing to give, not just what the other party has to offer you; this will lead to more instances of win-win then you can ever imagine.
Win-win is the ultimate desired outcome when entering negotiations; it is, in fact, the point of negotiating. There is no secret or mystery to knowing if the other side is concerned only about its own interests; we all know when we are being manipulated. It often is better to abandon negotiations with an opponent who will not bend and aim for mutual benefit rather then waste time, energy, and money that can be better spent on finding parties who wish to do business ethically. There are several methods that can be used to ensure that both sides get more of what they want. The most important of these is knowing what you want and knowing what the other side wants and entering negotiations with the desire to satisfy all involved. Two pitfalls that most are trying to avoid are conflicts and deadlocks. These barriers to negotiating also can be thwarted with a little foresight, action, and planning.
The Ethics of Negotiation
There are a multitude of books and courses available that extol the benefits of tricking, controlling, and otherwise using underhanded techniques to get what you want when negotiating. While these methods may seem enticing, simply put, they will help you win the battle while subsequently losing the war.
This section will cover the nuances and differences between ethical and unethical behavior. Ultimately, it will be up to you to decide how you will conduct yourself at the negotiating table; however, keep in mind that those who are truly successful in business and remain so live by a personal code of integrity.
Integrity does not necessarily mean following all the rules; it means acting in a manner that is honorable and worthy of yourself and others with whom you do business.
It May Be Legal, but Is It Ethical?
There is an extraordinary difference between legality and ethics. We all know of a situation or circumstance in which it is easy to justify unethical behavior because we are not breaking any laws. Lying, in most instances, is not illegal, but it is certainly unethical. Threatening the opposing parties, intimidating them, coercing them, or otherwise manipulating them into agreement are all unethical but perfectly legal.
As mentioned, there are numerous books that offer the secrets of misleading others in negotiations to win. Studying the art of deceiving other people without breaking the law is a waste of your time and energy; it will not make you appear savvy or powerful to the opposition and most certainly will earn you the status of being someone to avoid. In some cases, there is a fine line between law and ethics, and treading into this territory could land you in jail.
The legal definition of fraud is gain through misrepresentation. It is also an intentional perversion of truth or a false misrepresentation of fact that induces another person to part with some valuable thing belonging to him or her or to surrender a legal right. Thus, if it can be proved that you knowingly deceived the other party during negotiations for business gain, then you have just crossed the line of unethical into illegal.
How to Handle Unethical and/or Illegal Behavior
So you have decided that acting with integrity is the best option, or you always have believed this to be so; however, this does not ensure that others will behave the same way. You will, at one time or another, encounter unethical behavior from the other side of the negotiating table.
As with manipulative tactics, these actions should be dealt with head-on. Address the issue immediately and be clear and resolute in your stance to not tolerate unscrupulous actions. When and if you are confronted with those who attempt to coerce you into agreement, do not allow yourself to be intimidated. If necessary, end negotiations and take legal measures to address the issue.
Other unethical situations exist and may be presented in many forms: You may be offered a bribe, you may be asked to give privileged information for personal gain, or you may be offered privileged information for a fee. In some instances, the offer may be very tempting indeed, and it will take all your willpower to refuse. If you need to, take time to think over the consequences of your participation and discuss how to handle the situation with a close and trusted friend or colleague. If you are offended and feel that more severe action beyond ending negotiations needs to be taken, be sure that you have substantial proof of any illegal actions. Consult with your company's attorney and your supervisor before proceeding, and be ready for the other party to deny any and all allegations outright.
Often it is enough to simply earn the reputation for being someone who does not participate in this type of behavior to keep others from attempting it in future negotiations. Only you and your company can decide what action to take under the given circumstances, but ignoring it will certainly make you appear undecided or ambivalent to others; thus, it is important to make your opinion clear and unmistakable.
What If You Have Been Falsely Accused of Being Unethical ?
It is embarrassing and humiliating to be falsely accused of behaving unethically; it is often hard to prove your innocence as well. Your first and foremost reaction may be one of anger and dismay, particularly if you acted in a straightforward manner throughout negotiations. Many public relations experts suggest that in instances such as this there are two approaches to take initially:
|1) If the other party is directly involved with you or your company and has substantial public attention, it is wise to make a public statement that the accusations against you are false, briefly explain the truth, and then leave the matter alone.
2) If you no longer are involved with the other party or had only a brief encounter with that party and its representatives are simply looking for attention, then you should simply leave the matter alone and let it blow over. If you are in good standing with others you do business with and have proven yourself to be someone who acts with integrity in the past, most will not believe the false accusations. Most people will take the source into consideration as well.
If there is a case of intentional slander, you have the option of taking legal action against the party making false statements if you can prove your case.
If it is instead an obvious misunderstanding, then you may want to consider going directly to the source and clearing up the matter. In any case, it is a good habit to keep copies of all correspondence, minutes, or recordings of meetings and interactions with others for a short time following negotiations. These seemingly meaningless exchanges can turn out to contain the necessary proof of your proper behavior and intentions later on.
It is not required of any of us to act ethically and with integrity; however, the consequences of behaving otherwise often are enough to convince most of us to rise to the occasion and let principles guide us. Just because something is legal does not make it ethical, and some would also agree that it is unethical to blindly follow all law. It is up to us as individuals to decide what we stand for and how we will behave and treat others in both business and personal negotiations.
If you are confronted with an unscrupulous party in negotiations, be clear and definite about where you stand in regard to such matters. This is often enough to keep others from pursuing this line of reasoning with you in future matters. If you are falsely accused of being unethical, and cannot prove otherwise, let your reputation stand as proof of your innocence and do not give it power and credence by wasting time focusing on it. If you can clearly show no wrongdoing, then do so without hesitation.