We generally think of mediation as a dispute-resolution device. Federal mediators intervene when collective bargaining breaks down. Diplomats are sometimes called in to mediate conflicts between nations. So-called multi-door courthouses encourage litigants to mediate before incurring the costs – and risks – of going to trial. … Read
Learn how to negotiate like a diplomat, think on your feet like an improv performer, and master job offer negotiation like a professional athlete when you download a copy of our FREE special report, Negotiation Skills: Negotiation Strategies and Negotiation Techniques to Help You Become a Better Negotiator, from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.
What is Mutual Gain?
The cornerstone of a win-win negotiation is mutual gain. Here’s what it means in practice.
Even experienced negotiators often make the mistake of treating important talks as a win-lose negotiation. Overlooking effective win-win negotiation techniques, competitors in a given market or field often fail to recognize how teaming up can create a mutual gain.
But when both sides are satisfied with their agreement, the odds of a long-lasting and successful business partnership are much higher. There are a few ways to find areas for mutual gain in a negotiation, beginning by determining what the interest of each party is.
Once you’ve made a complete list of interests, it’s time to brainstorm various options based on these interests. At the evaluation stage, parties should choose from the ideas generated from the brainstorming session, and weigh possible packages that might lead to mutual gain for everyone involved.
There are two distinct ways to help find areas of mutual gain:
- Try joint fact-finding. A joint fact-finding process engages negotiators in a collaborative exploration of the fundamental issues at stake.
- Create value through trades. Present several different offers at the same time, each of which is acceptable to you. That will help you discover what your counterpart cares about most—and where potential mutual gain can be found.
Remember, mutual gain in a negotiation means making offers that are good for them and great for you. And it means thinking creatively about how you can get more of what you want by helping the other side get what she wants.
Working toward a mutual gain situation offers far more flexibility than just splitting resources 50-50. By capitalizing on differences and negotiating assertively, negotiators can move into win-win territory.
You can learn more about mutual gains and find out how to make a deal better and faster than ever before with this free report, Getting the Deal Done, from Harvard Law School.
The following items are tagged mutual gain:
There’s a better, third way of negotiating—one that doesn’t rely on toughness or accommodation, but that will improve your likelihood of meeting your negotiation goals. In their pivotal negotiation text, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In (Penguin, 2nd edition, 1991), Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton of the Harvard Negotiation Project promote … Read
Trust in negotiations may develop naturally over time, but negotiators rarely have the luxury of letting nature take its course. Thus it sometimes seems easiest to play it safe with cautious deals involving few tradeoffs, few concessions, and little information sharing between parties. But avoiding risk can mean missing out on significant opportunities. For this reason, … Read
Many organizations subject their executives to rigorous performance reviews, yet few companies include negotiation effectiveness as one of the core competencies they track. Instead, negotiation is usually subsumed under categories such as “emotional intelligence,” or “persuasiveness” and negotiation techniques and their improvement through negotiation training are not a regular part of employee training programs. … Read
Imagine that you’re buying a used car from its original owner. Of course, you want to get the best deal you can for your money, while your counterpart wants to maximize the value of his asset. After haggling with one another, each side finally arrives at a price point acceptable to both parties. But how … Read
How can you uncover additional value, make useful trades, and put together a package that exceeds your party’s expectations? Here are four integrative negotiation strategies for value creation that all negotiators should add to their toolkit. … Read
In 2019, face-to-face meetings between then U.S. president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, held in Hanoi, Vietnam, came to an abrupt end after Kim insisted that the United States lift all economic sanctions against his country in return for denuclearization. Trump refused and ended the talks, telling reporters, “Sometimes you have to … Read
We tend to have strong intuitions about which personality traits help or hurt us in negotiation, but does research on the topic confirm our hunches? Does personality in negotiation matter? Before we explore this topic, please answer “True” or “False” in response to the following questions: 1. Extroverted negotiators tend to perform better than introverted negotiators. 2. Agreeable … Read
Many professional negotiators have come away from talks wondering, How did that pleasant discussion turn sour? Why did the deal unravel at the last minute? … Read
Poor communication explains many of our negotiation mistakes, write Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton in Getting to Yes, their landmark book. Here are four negotiation skills tips adapted from Susan Hackley’s May 2005 article “Can You Break the Cycle of Bad Communication?,” first published in Negotiation. … Read
Negotiators talk about building agreement, bluffing the opposition, and volleying offers back and forth. According to mediator Thomas Smith, careful attention to such metaphors can reveal deeper meaning beneath the explicit words that people use, notably regarding how they view the negotiation process and their relationship to one another. … Read
In their revolutionary book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In (Penguin, 3rd edition, 2011), Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton introduced the world to the possibilities of mutual-gains negotiation, or integrative negotiation. The authors of Getting to Yes explained that negotiators don’t have to choose between either waging a strictly competitive, win-lose … Read
Business negotiators understand the importance of reaching a win-win negotiation: when both sides are satisfied with their agreement, the odds of a long-lasting and successful business partnership are much higher. But concrete strategies for generating a win-win contract often seem elusive. The following five, from experts at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, … Read
Negotiation jujitsu means breaking the vicious cycle of escalation by refusing to react. Resistance should be channeled into activities such as “exploring interests, inventing options for mutual gain, and searching for independent standards.” … Read
International law and diplomacy is a rapidly evolving field that depends on the brokering of agreements between nations and other stakeholders. Whether there are language barriers, cultural differences, or both, some of the most challenging negotiations involve parties from different nations. Because of the relative lack of clear legal precedents and the difficulties of enforcement, … Read
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
In the #MeToo era, entertainment companies have incurred significant financial and reputational damage from alleged crimes and misbehavior by the producers, directors, executives, and actors they’ve employed. … Read
It used to be that when negotiating counterparts were located far apart, someone would need to travel if the parties wanted to do business face-to-face. These days, you only need to set up a videoconference on an app such as Skype or Google Hangout to interact in real time. … Read
The negotiation psychology of the parties at the table can contribute significantly to the likelihood of reaching an agreement. In Beyond Reason, world-renowned negotiator Roger Fisher and psychologist Daniel Shapiro advise “ignore emotions at your own peril. Emotions are always present and often affect your experience. You may try to ignore them, but they will not … Read
Legal Disputes Where Emotions Override Reason Negotiating with a colleague or client can be complicated, but negotiating with a family member can cause us to leave reason at the door. Negotiating with family, where emotions are heightened, can lead to a reluctance to compromise. This is especially true when it comes to legal disputes between family … Read
Teach Your Students to Address Fundamental Value Differences While Negotiating Indigenous Land Rights Indigenous land rights have been a key aspect of negotiations by private companies and governments around the world. Indigenous land rights are the rights of indigenous peoples to land and natural resources, which they have occupied for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. … Read
Imagine that you have just negotiated a great deal on a house – and rightly so, given how deftly you managed the process from start to finish. You diligently studied the local real estate market and uncovered the seller’s motives for listing her property. You even created mutual gain by allowing the seller to stay … Read
In negotiation, the concessions we are willing to make in public sometimes are very different from the concessions we are willing to make in private. Take the statement that U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson made during his visit to China in March. … Read
High-Stakes Conflict Resolution Games In Drug Testing in the Workplace—a popular role-play from the TNRC—a truck driver tests positive for marijuana in a random drug test. To play this conflict resolution game, participants assume the roles of truck driver, personnel director, and a representative from the Employee Assistance Program Center, and then explore the question: What is the … Read
In this negotiation scenario straight from reality television, Lu Ann de Lesseps, Ramona Singer, and Sonja Morgan test their negotiating prowess against reality tv network Bravo in their contract renewal renegotiations. Skinnygirl mogul and financial whiz kid, Bethenny Frankel, offers a template for bargaining for success on reality tv and beyond. … Read
The Harvard Negotiation Project was recently mentioned in the Wall Street Journal by David Feith in his interview with Benny Tai, “China’s New Freedom Fighters.” Benny Tai, a 49 year old lawyer who has been branded an “enemy of the state,” founded Occupy Central with Love and Peace, a group that promotes civil disobedience in order … Read
When two people share the same motive, they fall prey to the same flaws and reinforce each other’s failings. Consider a labor negotiation in which the chief management negotiator withholds information about revenue projections, while the labor leader holds back details about workforce sentiment. Impasse is the predictable result. When you’re negotiating with a fellow … Read
How can we avert a full-throttle drive over the fiscal cliff? Despite some promising signs of movement on both sides of the aisle, the current negotiation approach – positional bargaining – is bound to bring us dangerously close to the edge. … Read
Adapted from “Mediation in Transactional Negotiation,” first published in the Negotiation newsletter, July 2004. We generally think of mediation as a dispute-resolution device. Federal mediators intervene when collective bargaining bogs down. Diplomats are sometimes called in to mediate conflicts between nations. So-called multidoor courthouses encourage litigants to mediate before incurring the costs—and risks—of going to trial. Scott … Read
Adapted from “Metaphorical Negotiation,” first published in the Negotiation newsletter. Negotiators talk about building agreement, bluffing the opposition, and volleying offers back and forth. According to mediator Thomas Smith, careful attention to such metaphors can reveal deeper meaning beneath the explicit words that people use, notably regarding how they view the negotiation process and their relationship … Read