I ran into the Hillary and Donald proxies in a book store in the New Orleans’ airport in July. Standing between those cut-outs then, I really couldn’t predict how positional and polarized the world would get today. With this much disagreement and competitiveness being displayed on the world stage, it is easy to feel that pushing our own demands on others is the way to go. However in our families, workplaces and communities, a collaborative approach to negotiation helps us achieve common objectives. Negotiation is a skill that is needed more than ever and largely misunderstood; and a win-win approach is key.
According to Roger Fisher, author of Getting to Yes, “negotiation is the basic means of getting what you want from others.” It can be seen as an iterative communication process intended to reach an agreement when both sides have shared and opposing interests. Yet, with all the telephone and internet scams, it is obvious that not everyone shares that view. Some people use trickery and dishonesty to get what they want, by-passing the back-and-forth process. With flatter organizations, more teamwork and fewer resources, it is imperative that we use a win-win or collaborative process to develop fair outcomes and maximize our resources at work. But many organizations and individuals believe that you can get win-win outcomes with a win-lose or competitive process.
In Win-Lose negotiation, each party has a position/demand that they want met as a result of the negotiation. This leaves one person winning and the other person losing. Do you want to be the loser? No one does. The win-win process involves key steps that anyone can use to create an agreement that gives each party a “yesable” outcome. Key components of collaborative negotiations include:
Shift Discussions from positions to interests – positions are solutions we demand in a negotiation; interests are what motivate us to take the position. They include our needs, wants, fears hope, concerns and expectations. Don’t argue; have a discussion.
Listen for Understanding – in a win-lose process, like debate, we criticize the other party’s position. In an interest based process, we listen to understand the other’s interests
Share your interests – in a competitive process, we keep information secret. In win-win, we share what we want and why, making it clear what our interests are. When we share interests and hear the others’ we can find common ground
Create Options – when we enter a negotiation only considering ourselves, it is doomed for failure because when we come up with a solution that only works for us – we cannot achieve win-win. Creating options means that we can use our intelligence and creativity to problem solve and create solutions that work for both parties.
Build Relationships – when we take the time to get to know people, we understand them better and build trust and respect. Trust is vital in negotiation. Maintaining a good relationship throughout the duration of an agreement makes it easier for both parties to do their part to maintain the integrity of the agreement.
Collaboration is a joint effort. As Thomas Stallcamp said, “The secret is to gang up on the problem, rather than each other.”
Could your organization use more collaborative negotiation skills for teamwork and developing partnerships inside and outside your organization? Call Pat to see how she can help your group through a workshop, keynote or retreat.