Update: Aug 2012. The book is now available on Amazon, hope you like it!
I am in the middle of writing a book called Negotiation Mastery. The idea is that it gives you the current understanding of negotiation best practice, as drawn from the literature, and then it goes further, to give you advanced skills, taken from cutting-edge research in such diverse areas as game theory, systems theory, neuro-economics and behavioural psychology.
But then it goes beyond this, even, taking you along the road to mastery. There are many books written on the subject of mastery but usually in the fields of music, martial arts or sport. This will bring the same beliefs, attitudes and practices to the world of negotiation.
It has a win-win approach but it introduces the concept of Strong Win-Win based on the following logic:
1) The negotiation counts for nothing unless it is implemented how you would like
2) Therefore, the other party must be incentivised to implement it as agreed, ie, it needs to be win-win.
3) Many people are afraid of win-win because they feel it leaves them open to be taken advantage of
4) Therefore, use the Strong Win-Win approach, which addresses this worry.
For those of you who are the kind that likes to skip the starters and the main course and go straight to the dessert, one of the chapters is a short executive summary.
This is not the way of mastery, that is for sure! Roger Federer never became the best tennis player the world has ever seen by reading a handout that said:
But it can be a useful little crib-sheet for you and give a structure to the philosophy of Strong Win-Win.
Strong Win-Win involves strength and generosity: make sure you get your win, help them get their win. They are not independent. It is your strength that allows you to be generous and your generosity will, in turn, feed your strength. It is helping them get their win that will make them help you get your win.
And it boils down to four simple principles and a six-step system.
The Strong Win-Win Principles
1. It’s not about winning the battle, it’s about winning the war
This is self-evident but easy to forget. The implication is not to be too fixated on saving the cent here or you will miss the dollar over there. Focus on the big picture, that is what is important.
2. In human endeavour, 1 + 1 = 3
One idea plus one idea equals three ideas or more. You have a cow, I have a bull, together we have a business. When the output is greater than the sum of the inputs, this is value creation and it is this that has driven the whole progress of the human species.
3. Don’t be rude to the waiter
They will find ways of getting their own back in ways you do not wish to know about! And remember the negotiation counts for nothing unless it is implemented so make sure the other party is incentivised to implement it.
4. Never bully, refuse to be bullied
Be unmessable with! Treat yourself with respect so that they too treat you with respect. Indeed, treat them with respect so that they too treat you with respect. It is a law of human nature that they will respond to you in the way you behave to them.
The first three of these principles show the value of win-win, even for selfish reasons. The last is there to ensure that you do not stray into lose-win!
The Strong Win-Win System
Preparation is 75% of the negotiation. If you prepare or you do not prepare, you deserve what you get. Be assured: the other guy is going to prepare. Quite simply, if there are any surprises, you did not prepare sufficiently.
2. Develop your Plan B
Know and develop your alternatives. As the saying goes, “Never fall in love with one house, fall in love with three”. And then you never have to be needy, you can never be bullied; you are always prepared to walk away if the deal is not right. This gives you a lot of power in the deal.
3. Establish high credibility and high rapport
Establish high credibility and they will not mess with you. Establish high rapport and they will be pleased to help you get your win. So much follows from these two.
4. Move to win-win
Win-win only works if the other party is playing the same game. Many of the people you negotiate with will default to win-win, others you may have to give a helping hand. Show them the benefits of collaborating, talk in terms of their best interests, talk about the four principles above. People respond in kind to your behaviour, so be the first to move to win-win by doing them a favour or helping them in some way. They will reciprocate.
5. Trust but verify
Trust is good. There is a trust dividend and a lack-of-trust tax. But trust appropriately, do not be the fool that looks for fairness from a crocodile. So trust but verify. Look to increase their trustability by channelling their self-interest. And, again, people respond in kind to your behaviour: be cagey and defensive and they will be cagey and defensive, be trustworthy and they will be trustworthy. Trust engenders trust.
6. Employ Tit-For-Tat
- Be nice: start by co-operating and continue co-operating as long as they do
- Be provocable: retaliate as soon as they defect
- Forgive: co-operate again when they resume co-operation
- Be clear: let them know what you are doing and why so they know what to expect.
- Do not be envious: do not worry about how much they get, maximise how much you get.
You can see that, repeatedly, two themes recur: strength and generosity. Strong Win-Win is a combination of these two concepts and the emphasis is on both.
In any given negotiation, however, the emphasis may change. What is your natural inclination as a negotiator? Win-lose? You are doing yourself a disservice, you are not getting the best deals you can. Shift your thinking to win-win and you will get a lot better results.
If your natural inclination is win-win, that’s great. But if the other party is naturally a win-lose operator, you will want to increase your emphasis on your strength and shift their thinking towards win-win.
There is more, so much more
This crib-sheet is not enough: read the book, there is so much more richness in the detail.
Reading the book is not enough: put it into practice. No one ever learnt to swim by reading a book, they had to get in the water.
Putting it into practice is not enough: practice and learn, practice and learn, practice and learn.
And then, after a very long time, you will become a negotiation master.