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 Business Negotiations: The Wachovia Buyout

PON Staff   •  01/30/2017   •  Filed in Win-Win Negotiations

Changing financial and legal conditions can create and destroy wealth in the blink of an eye. How does a negotiator take advantage of such periods of change? During the financial crisis of 2008, Wachovia Corporation found itself looking for a buyer to avoid collapse while the financial industry as a whole was the grips of … Read More 

Getting past “You go first”

PON Staff   •  01/14/2015   •  Filed in Win-Win Negotiations

In our easiest professional negotiations, we have ample resources to divide among us, and everyone involved expects to benefit in both the short term and the long term from a deal. Unfortunately, there are also times when reaching common ground would require significant sacrifices from everyone involved. The temptation in such situations is to stonewall … Read More 

How to win at win-win negotiation

PON Staff   •  07/15/2014   •  Filed in Win-Win Negotiations

When parties to a negotiation can’t seem to find common ground, it sometimes seems as if the only solution is “winner take all.”

Consider the decade-long campaign by the backers of the Cape Wind project to build the first offshore wind farm in the United States off the coast of Massachusetts in Nantucket Sound. Led by … Read More 

Win-Win Negotiations in the Middle East: How the Principles Behind the Harvard Negotiation Project Apply to Israel and Palestine

PON Staff   •  07/30/2013   •  Filed in Middle East Negotiation Initiatives, Win-Win Negotiations

Peace talks in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine have stalled for years and, with no ‘new beginnings’ on the horizon, many have come to expect stagnation and lack of progress in talks between the neighbors. That was until this week when Secretary of State John Kerry was successful in getting Palestinian and Israeli … Read More