Negotiating is one of those skills that you can apply to any area of your life. Being a good negotiator enables you to steer positive outcomes for yourself and the parties involved, if done well. If you can handle negotiations effectively then you will come out on top in different areas in life because of how transferable the skill is. Not only can you benefit from the skill but you can also trade the skill off to help others. Whilst the purpose of the post is not to talk about the characteristics of good negotiators- you definitely need confidence to ask for what you want.
I’m not really labouring the difference between negotiating and haggling because that can probably take up a post on its own. Despite the terms being defined as one and the same, they are not. When you are haggling you’re almost always single-mindedly focused on the price and a one-off transaction. When negotiating there are multiple aspects that form the basis of your negotiation. Identifying the elements in a negotiation, understanding what’s important and being able to present the right case for what you want is the skill.
Given that there are three possible outcomes, which one should you choose? That depends entirely on the situation. Since I am writing specifically for the skill as it applies to your career then I’m actually inclined to say you should always be aiming for the satisfaction of both parties. This post also follows on from networking and influencing so the end goal is to continue to keep the relationship going.
Having said that I am going to lay out the three outcomes.
Neither party wins in this situation. There is no agreement and no partnership and needless to say nobody wins. All in all this is a poor outcome, ego- driven and lacking in flexibility. There is obvious short-sightedness in this and the process of reaching such an outcome is fraught with tension and stress. You would want to avoid such an outcome by all means. It does nothing for long-term relationship building.
An example is a failed salary negotiation. If you’re negotiating on salary alone, you’re haggling and you will most likely lose that argument. All the other party has to say is they can’t meet your expectation. Your discussion needs to consider the different aspects of a salary negotiation.
One party wins the other loses. In certain cases this is much worse than a lose-lose situation. It’s the equivalent of being strong-armed. In this situation both parties come into a discussion with desired outcomes in mind, only for one party to leave with the outcome they wanted. Needless to say that does nothing for the long-term relationship and partnership.
Keeping with the salary discussion because it’s the one thing most people associate with negotiating in the workplace. If people feel they aren’t being paid their worth they will reluctantly do the work. On the flip side being awarded the requested salary in a win-lose scenario puts a person under scrutiny and pressure to demonstrate they deserve the pay award.
This is what you should always aim for in a negotiation. There may be reasons to deliberately want the outcome to fall in the other two listed in this post, however whenever possible you would avoid that. As mentioned before the outcome mostly depends on the desire for a working partnership going forward.
In a win-win scenario, both parties come to the discussion aware that there is more than one element to the discussion. Grasping and executing this can in some situations recover a lose-lose situation and maybe with enough motivation a win-lose. Both parties will openly encourage stating their position. Not everyone understands this and sees the benefit of this.
It’s quite the opposite people think they can come to a mutual agreement by playing one card at a time or stealth mind games. This approach is what tends to lead to a win-lose outcome.
So all in all a transactional approach to negotiation will mean neither party comes away with their desired outcome. An authoritative approach will lead to one party being strong-armed and finally, a cooperative approach will result in mutual benefit and encourage long-term partnerships. It’s worth remembering in your career, negotiations are not restricted to salary and you need to find more than one aspect to your agreement to move from haggling to negotiating.