Win-Win Negotiations

Win-win negotiations are those negotiations in which each party walks away from the bargaining table having achieved its goals within the confines of an integrative, or value-creating, bargaining process rather than through a haggling, or distributive, bargaining process. Win-win negotiation is a principle feature of integrative bargaining and is promoted by the Program on Negotiation throughout its literature and research. Win-win strategies are all about increasing your opponent’s satisfaction even as you achieve the outcome you desire.

Using these strategies can also be a powerful tool of persuasion when faced with tall odds or powerful opponents. Examples of win-win negotiations are delivered throughout the Program on Negotiation site, from Mayor Michael Bloomberg versus the New York teachers’ union, to an end to the NHL lockout, to the use of win-win strategies in the intractable Middle East, to Disney Corp.’s purchase of Lucasfilm.

Some examples of win-win strategies:

  • Skilled negotiators manage expectations prior to and during a negotiation. Some managers do this instinctively. They also avoid making concessions too soon to avoid increasing their opponents’ expectations.

  • Ensure that our opponent perceives his outcome as beneficial by being modest about your gains from a deal, and commend your counterpart for his hard bargaining.

  • Give your negotiation counterpart a voice in the decision process. Even when you’re in a position of power, be sure to acknowledge your counterpart’s perspective and invite him or her to express his views, to suggest alternatives, and to react to initial proposals. You can also enhance perceptions of fairness after an outcome has been reached by providing detailed explanations for unappealing actions or outcomes.

The Program on Negotiation also discusses tactics such as this:

  • Share information: Instead of assuming your interests are directly opposed to your counterparts’ interests, provide information that could lead to wise tradeoffs

  • Reject the “fixed pie:” It’s easy to assume that the pie of resources to allocate is fixed; when in fact there are opportunities to expand the pie by creating value.

  • Avoid anchoring on the first offer: Don’t become overly affected by the first number entered into the negotiation.

  • Set concrete goals: By setting concrete goals in advance, you won’t be swayed by other’s influence tactics, vivid stories, and hard bargaining techniques.

  • Avoid dwelling on the past: Past investments should rarely affect our decisions about the future

  • Take your time: When you’re pressed into making snap decisions, your thinking will be more intuitive and less rational

Win Win Negotiation: Different Cultures, Shared Meals

PON Staff   •  10/01/2020   •  Filed in Win-Win Negotiations

win win negotiation

From movie moguls hammering out film deals in Los Angeles to publishers and agents assessing each other’s tastes in New York, the “power lunch” has become a familiar institution. Across the globe, negotiators often do business over shared meals, whether out of convenience or as part of a concerted effort to get to know one … Read More 

Negotiation in the News: Scrutinizing a Win-Win Deal

PON Staff   •  01/31/2020   •  Filed in Win-Win Negotiations

When trust between negotiators is low and rancor is high, they may have difficulty accepting a mutually beneficial deal even as it stares them in the face. As 2019 drew to a close, House Democrats were trying to come to terms with a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that checked off many important boxes … Read More 

When Your Words Push Their Buttons

PON Staff   •  05/31/2019   •  Filed in Win-Win Negotiations

After 11 days of peace talks at a resort in Doha, Qatar, in March, U.S. and Taliban negotiators had reached significant breakthroughs, but a final agreement remained frustratingly distant, the New York Times reports.

The two sides had agreed in principle on a framework for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. In the 18 years since … Read More 

Win-Win Negotiation Techniques: Create Value with Rivals

Katie Shonk   •  03/11/2019   •  Filed in Win-Win Negotiations

Even experienced negotiators often make the mistake of treating important talks as a win-lose negotiation. Overlooking effective win-win negotiation techniques, they focus on trying to claim as much value as they can without trying to create new sources of value.

It’s also the case that competitors in a given market or field may fail to recognize … Read More