Image this scenario. Leader A and Leader B are working on new job procedures for two departments. Both leaders have met several times to make sure implementation of new procedures will be a smooth transition for both departments. They have been struggling over making this smooth transition happen. Leader A is a play-it-safe negotiator and Leader B is an adversarial negotiator. Describe how Leader A and B should negotiate a win-win outcome.

Here are three steps to negotiate a win-win outcome.

Step 1

Commit to personal integrity and positive outcome.

Since most negotiation settlements occur at or even beyond the deadline, be patient. True strength calls for the ability to sustain a positive attitude without flight or fight. Keep your defense response under control. Remain calm but alert for the favorable moment to act.

Step 2

Exchange information, and clarify issues by focusing on interests, not positions.

Recognize and uncover (if necessary) any emotional issues to be able to find options that both parties can agree upon.

Agree on ground rules, which might include process, timetable, and authority. Find out what the other side wants, even when you are fairly sure you will not like what you hear. Then, tell the other party what you are prepared to do to determine how far apart you are in the negotiation. Don’t jump to conclusions without clarifying issues; ask for more information, if needed.

Discuss major issues, differences, and how other people are affected. Search for alternatives that are acceptable to both parties. When common interests dominate, use your logic to solve the problems. When conflicting interests dominate, be cautious of overstating, compromising, or even escalating into an argument.

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Remember to search for alternatives that are acceptable to both parties.

Step 3

Commit to a formal approval process for agreed-upon options, and follow up to ensure the solution is working as planned.

Here is a word of caution if the other party is unwilling to negotiate a win-win outcome: Beware of tactics used to take advantage of you. These tactics can be illegal, unethical, or simply unpleasant.

Here are some possible tactics to watch out for:

  • Phony facts: a practice of verifying false information.
  • Ambiguous authority: a practice of exercising false power.
  • Hidden agenda: misrepresentation of intentions.
  • Stressful situations: physical environment creating stress.
  • Good guy, bad guy: one person takes a tough stand and the other person takes a friendly one.
  • Personal attacks: attacks on your status, knowledge, and experience.
  • Threats: pressure designed to force an unacceptable agreement.
  • Extreme demands: starting with an extreme proposal to lower your expectations.
  • Escalating demands: raising one demand for every concession made.
  • What if: a way of testing readiness to settle.
  • Impasse: the appearance of no solution.
  • Emotional outburst: using emotions to throw the other party off balance.
  • Expert: using expertise to reduce challenges from the other party.

Negotiation is the use of information and power; it is a discussion to bring about a result.

Ask yourself three questions to determine whether you should or should not negotiate:

  • Am I comfortable negotiating?
  • Will negotiating meet both sides’ needs?
  • Will the expenditure of my energy, experience, and time create a win-win outcome?

Your answer to each question will help you know whether to negotiate.