Thursday 24th April 11:57

Negotiating Skills: Win-Win Deals

orange_142Management guru, Mary Parker Follett, tells the story of two highly competitive sisters quarrelling over a single orange that they both wanted. Neither of them would budge until their mother intervened and decided that the only way to resolve the dispute was to cut the orange straight down the middle and give each sister one half each. The first sister then squeezed her orange half to make a drink of fresh orange juice while the second sister grated her orange half for peel to add to orange scones. As a result, the sisters only got half of what they wanted.

Why We Only Settle for Half of What We Can Get


This story is what goes on in many negotiations in life and work. Both sides set out their positions at the start and refuse to budge. They see moving from their position as a loss of face, defeat, or weakness. In the end, there is stalemate which can only be resolved through splitting the difference or going to arbitration for a 50-50 deal. Instead, if both sides had explored each others' real needs and interests, through dialogue, listening, and an understanding of where each other are coming from, the parties would have discovered that a win-win, 100-100 deal was not only possible but the best outcome all round.

How to Create Win-Win Deals

A real-life example of win-win negotiations is a story told by Roger Dawson in his programme, "The Secrets of Power Negotiating".

Roger had been asked to work on a deal to buy land for a new shopping mall. The owner of the land took an intransigent position on the price of the land that was way above what the buyers could afford. The two sides initially argued strongly why their position was fair and reasonable but they got nowhere. Then Roger decided to meet with the owner face-to-face. As the mood relaxed, Roger discovered that the owner was not really bothered about the money. He was already rich and of an age where money was no longer important to him. Deep down, what he most wanted was some kind of legacy. So Roger proposed that, if he could get the new owners to name the mall after him, the old man would settle on the price. This became the basis of a win-win settlement: the mall was built and named after the old man.

5 Principles of Win-Win Deals

If you want to avoid the fate of Mary Parker Follett's sisters and succeed like Roger Dawson, here are 5 negotiating principles you should always bear in mind:

1. Always believe that a win-win deal is possible.

2. Recognise that negotiations are not about who has the best case but about how everyone can gain.

3. Spend negotiating time exploring needs not defending positions.

4. Listen more than you talk.

5. Remember that, while positions are based on logical argument, needs are based on irrational feelings.

Further Resources on Win-Win Deals

Read this excellent article by Steve Robers sub-titled, "Examine how poorly implemented win-win usually fails to deliver business goals and leaves gold on the table as a result" here.

Take a look at this YouTube video from Peter Stark on three critical factors of a win-win deal here.

Download Patti Janega's free "Negotiating Skills Handbook", full of tips, do's and don'ts, common mistakes, checklists, and invaluable advice here.