This tip has helped me the most in my own negotiations. Instead of viewing the other party as a friend, or as an enemy, I see both of us as partners in a challenge. The challenge is to figure out what will get both of us what we want, while strengthening our relationship at the same time. That’s the best possible outcome for a tough negotiation: get a fair deal and don’t burn bridges — build them.
The biggest obstacles to this kind of negotiation come from people fighting over positions, like haggling over a car with a used salesman.
They start with an unreasonably high price; you counter with an unreasonably low one. You both painfully advance, position by position, like a WW2 battlefield, towards a comfortable middle ground. But this type of negotiation misses the chance to find creative solutions that will work for both sides. It causes people to dig into their positions and resist change as much as possible. It creates a conflict of wills. The chances of an amicable agreement are low.
The better way is to approach the problem as a team. You are working together to find a fair solution that builds the relationship. That means uncovering the core motivations and limitations that make up each person’s position, and working to satisfy both sides. It means being open to suggestions and to change.
To get into the right mindset, you can use a few simple ideas:
- Use words like “we”, instead of “I” and “you”
- Stress points where you and the other party agree
- Don’t be afraid to share information about why you want a certain item
- Focus on the future: how would you act if this were a long-term relationship?