We spoke to David Goldwich, author of “Win-Win Negotiations: Developing the Mindset, Skills and Behaviours of Win-Win Negotiators” and “Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? Lessons in Effective Communication.” to find out what qualities do win-win negotiators possess? How are they able to consistently achieve win-win outcomes? Cultivating the following qualities will improve your chances of negotiating win-win agreements.
Engage in mutual problem solving
Most of us are conditioned to see a negotiation as a chance to win or lose. As such, we do what we can to win as much as we can, and the other side does the same. This competitive mindset leads to win-lose or partial win results.
Win-win negotiators, however, approach a negotiation as an opportunity for mutual problem solving. Understand your interests and prioritize them so you stay focused on what is important to you. Know what you must have and what you would like to get from the negotiation before you begin. Have a list of other items you are willing to exchange.
Try to anticipate the other party’s interests as well. Explore ways to help him get what he needs at little or no cost to you. Adopt a collaborative mindset. Strive to optimize the overall outcome, rather than trying to maximize your gains on each of a series of items.
Most people play their cards close to the chest during a negotiation. They refuse to tell the other party anything of substance for fear the other party will use it to their advantage.
Of course, there may be some things you don’t want the other party to know. For example, you may not want to share your alternatives or your “bottom line.” However, it does not hurt to let your counterpart know what your interests are. They will often reciprocate, and you are then in a better position to satisfy both party’s interests.
But what if you share your interests and the other party keeps his to himself? Would that place you at a disadvantage? No, it would not! Recent studies suggest that even when only one party lays his interests on the table, a win-win outcome is still more likely. The mere fact that some interests are disclosed improves the chances that both sides will benefit.
Asking questions is one way to get information. But the benefits of asking questions go beyond mere information. Asking nonthreatening questions allows you to build rapport and put the other party at ease. It allows you to manage the discussion and gives you time to think. Questions also allow you to check your assumptions and confirm your understanding of key points.
Be careful how you ask questions. Do not ask questions with a sarcastic tone or that otherwise sound threatening. Ask questions that seek fair information and show a genuine concern for the other party and the negotiation process.
You learn more by listening than by talking, so encourage the other party to speak by listening attentively. Make eye contact. Do not interrupt. Do not form conclusions until your counterpart has finished speaking.
A good listener shows concern and respect for the other party. Try to really understand the other party’s point of view, even if you do not agree. Recognize that his arguments and needs have merit. Likeable and agreeable negotiators accomplish more than self-centered ones.
Explain before disagreeing
Do not be quick to disagree with your counterpart. An immediate rejection suggests you do not really care about the other person and are not open to his ideas.
Consider what he is saying. Look for common ground and try to build on it with your counterproposal. Offer your counterproposal as a suggestion rather than a demand, and be prepared to discuss it.
Use data, evidence, and logic to support your proposals. Focus on the most compelling one or two arguments rather than trying to build support with a smattering of less convincing arguments. Quality is more important than quantity here.
Use fair and objective standards to support your proposal. Offer facts and reasons that make intrinsic good sense, such as market prices and historical trends. Do not offer arbitrary arguments such as “that’s all we are willing to pay.” Unsupportable rationales are not persuasive and will make your counterpart more resistant.
A win-win solution is not always obvious. The ability to develop creative options is a key to crafting win-win agreements. Learn to think out of the box.
By developing these characteristics of win-win negotiators, you too will become a better negotiator.