I was introduced to win-win negotiation in the 1990s and I loved the premise. When I do business with someone in my personal or professional life I want both parties to feel good about the deal and the relationship.

It’s not always that simple or easy — but it should be. Who wouldn’t want the deal to be good for both parties? Who wants to be in a relationship with someone where one party suffers? That doesn’t seem healthy for any relationship.

Who wants to be in a relationship with someone where one party suffers?

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In my experience, there are several reasons these circumstances occur and it’s important to be aware of if you hope to successfully execute win-win negotiations. Here’s how you can address them head on.


5 steps to achieve equity for both sides


  • Each party needs to trust the other. Trust is built through actions not words. It takes time to build trust, so win-win negotiation may not be available to you early in a relationship. Be honest with yourself and your partner; do you really trust each other enough to create a win-win scenario? Hint: honesty is the fastest path to building trust.
  • Share early what winning looks like for you and your firm. Ask the same in return from your potential partner. Do not change what winning looks like for you along the way. Times change, and priorities may evolve, but usually people change what winning looks like to improve their leverage. This tactic will kill both trust and a win-win opportunity.
  • Understand your value. What are you bringing to the relationship? Can you monetize it? Can you explain it? Are you confident in your value? You need to be able to explain what you bring and how that is different from the competition. It’s important to stay professional and remember you are explaining your position, not defending it, so reframe your thinking to keep emotion out of it. Keep information ubiquitous, so comparison is easy and make sure your value is real.
  • Do not try to capture more value than you are worth. This is difficult. It is tempting to take more than your fair share if the other party lacks information or is unprepared. But in the long run, the other party will figure it out and you will damage trust which will prevent future win-win negotiations. Invest in the relationship long-term. Decide what you deserve for what you do and do not get greedy. Focus not on what you can get for yourself,  but what is rightfully yours.
  • Let go of your ego. Be prepared to walk away if you cannot get the value for your services.

What do your negotiations say about you?

We are all negotiators — negotiation is part of life. Our ability to execute a win-win strategy is a true statement of our character. Do you make the other party’s interests as important as your own?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you have a win-win negotiation story? Please share in the comments.


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Al Chiaradonna