Community Pick: Many members of our community have endorsed this article.
Editor's Choice: This article has been selected by our editors as an exceptional contribution.

Negotiating Loss for a Win-Win

Mark WillsTopic Advisor
Love to Help
Give a man a fish and you've fed him for a day; Teach a man to fish and you've fed him for the rest of his life. Be the teacher
I have heard a great number of wisdoms coming from the business community. One such conjecture is that there is no such thing as a win-win situation, it is really lose-lose. It might not be so far from the truth, and thinking about it, there is a lot to win from that perspective… But , how do we measure the success of a win-win relationship?

Well, firstly let us consider that it really is a lose-lose relationship. The assumption is, what the other side considers a win, must surely mean that you have compromised on something. And a compromise cannot mean we both do not get what we want, it has to mean this time I win, next time you win.

So, what about the other side winning on some point that really didn’t mean anything to you ? Well, that is not so much their win, it is more your own win because now you can use that in the negotiations for the next compromise (remember this time you win next time I win, if you can choose those moments then you have the upper hand).

Then put a value on, or better still know (and stick to) your limits, or somehow quantify on the fly (for those unexpected issues) how much you have lost in each compromise. Take your time, and as Oscar Wilde says "He knew the precise psychological moment when to say nothing."

Don’t focus so much on your wins, they are ideally a given (hope, desire, want) before you enter into your negotiations. It is vitally important however, to remember you don’t really want to win at any cost, and is sometimes easy to get caught up in the excitement of negotiations that you can sometimes compromise your own position for the sake of the next win.

If you have lost more than the new relationship gains, or, the other side has lost nothing and gains everything then it was a poor negotiation, and have done yourself a huge disservice. It is not a win-win relationship at all, it becomes win-lose and you’re not the winner.

Conversely, if you find yourself doing all the winning, then you really do need to ask yourself “are they worthy”, or, “is this the relationship I hope it will be”. Basically you might need to start questioning the true benefit.

By constantly keeping check on exactly what you are compromising by examining your losses you will make sure that there is a healthy balance of loss on both sides in order to secure the win-win you need to make the negotiations successful. And in focussing in on your loss situation, it gives you the added benefit of seeing what points they consider to be a win. Again, the more you recognise their "win" points, you might be able to take control.

Once you can really "value" your lose-lose relationship, then you can always negotiate successfully providing the win-win outcomes you always wanted.

So, what if there are no losses on either side ? Then maybe it is a true win-win, much like a marriage, and so on that note, may I suggest let the compromises begin :)

Happy negotiating.
Mark WillsTopic Advisor
Love to Help
Give a man a fish and you've fed him for a day; Teach a man to fish and you've fed him for the rest of his life. Be the teacher

Comments (1)

Truly insightful.

Have a question about something in this article? You can receive help directly from the article author. Sign up for a free trial to get started.