Win-win negotiations first rose to prominence during the 1980s, thanks in part to books like Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton’s bestseller Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. Having said that, there was also a shifting mindset at the time as negotiators saw win-win negotiations as preferable to the then-dominant win-lose approach. A win-win negotiation is a negotiation outcome resulting in a mutually acceptable and beneficial deal for all involved parties.
Understanding a win-win negotiation
The outcome of a win-win negotiation can best be described as an integrative negotiated agreement. This means the parties involved in a negotiation have reached an agreement after considering each other’s interests to the fullest extent. In other words, the agreement cannot be improved upon by further discussion or by any other means.
Each party walking away from a win-win negotiation does so with the feeling they have won or achieved their goals. Importantly, win-win negotiations do not require resources to be split down the middle. Nor do these negotiations suggest one party make a concession just because the other party did.
Instead, both parties in a win-win negotiation work to get the best deal possible while ensuring their counterparts are satisfied with the outcome. In the book Good for You, Great for Me: Finding the Trading Zone and Winning at Win-Win Negotiation, author Lawrence Susskind suggested businesses think creatively about how they can get more of what they want by helping the other side do the same.
Win-win negotiation trade-offs
Successful negotiation outcomes rely on reaching a mutually beneficial situation by trading off different preferences to create value.
To explain this concept in more detail, we have listed a few ways the skilled negotiator can create this value:
- Different future beliefs – when both parties believe in a different version of the future, they can negotiate a contingent contract stipulating what either party will do if its future vision does not materialize. In theory, each side should be happy to bet on their respective prediction if they truly believe it will occur.
- Different attitudes toward time – time horizons can also be used as a point of difference for trade-offs. Suppose two investors are interested in purchasing a business together, with one looking for a quick return while the other happy to be more patient. A win-win negotiation in this scenario may involve the less patient party securing a bigger share of the initial return in exchange for the more patient party earning a larger share over the long term.
- Different interests and priorities – perhaps the most common trade-off used in win-win negotiation. For example, one party in a negotiation for a joint-venture deal may consider 60% of total earnings to be a win. The other party in the negotiation may define a successful joint venture as one that allows it to build a solid relationship with the other organization.
- A win-win negotiation is a negotiation outcome resulting in a mutually acceptable and beneficial deal for all involved parties. The approach became popular in the 1980s as negotiators saw the benefit in abandoning the then-dominant win-lose negotiation strategy.
- Fundamental to a successful win-win negotiation is the ability for one party to creatively determine how it can get more of what it wants while also allowing the other party to believe it has done the same.
- A win-win negotiation relies on creating value by the trade-off of different and non-competing preferences. Value can usually be found in the differences between future predictions, time horizons, interests, and priorities.
Related Negotiation Terms
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