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.
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