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Win-win is for loser

By BY SOSPETER OPONDO | October 29th 2013


Nearly every negotiating book ever written takes a win-win approach to agreements.

However, master negotiators know that win-win is for losers. In reality, nobody believes in win-win, because people play to win — not to tie — and certainly not to lose.

In martial arts, for example, whether you are sparring for practice or in a tournament, you do not want your opponent to win. Even if the person across the mat from you is your best friend or your brother or your sister, you still don’t want them to beat you. Martial artists play to win and so do you.

There is nothing wrong with this attitude because the need to win is human nature, and it is what drives people to do their best.

Winning doesn’t mean breaking even. If your rugby or soccer team ends an important game in a tie, do you consider it a win?

Contracts are signed with each party’s own interests in mind. Leading up to the contract is the negotiation, and the winning attitude must start there. The opposing party may still get what he wants out of the deal as well, but an experienced negotiator lets the other person have it own her own terms.

The mark of a master negotiator is to walk away from the table with what she came for while letting the other party feel he got a good deal as well. Now that is skill.

Win-win suggests a tie wherein in the best-case scenario, you end up with a dissatisfying compromise.

You will always get a deal in bargaining if you adopt a “win big/win small” philosophy. This strategy allows you to get what you came for while still making sure the other party’s needs are met as well.

When you truly win, all your needs are met and you obtain as many of your wants as possible. You must recognise the difference between wants and needs and how to keep them at the forefront of your mind.

Remember this cardinal rule: bargain with your interests in mind and assume the other party will do the same.

Too many people feel guilty if they think they are getting the better end of the deal. Don’t fall into that trap. The other person won’t agree to any deal where you are the only one to benefit. For all you know, the person may be going through a divorce, job transfer, illness,  have tax problems, or some other situation that you are helping him resolve.

To win big, you must see an opening and go for it without hesitation. If you are selling a house and are still thinking of all of the fond memories it contains, you will not get the best deal because your emotions will make you hesitate. It is probably best to wait until your focus is on your next house before putting the current one on the market.

Many people negotiate with the intention to fail. Watch the words you say when a negotiating opportunity arises. If you hear yourself using such phrases as, “I’ll try”, or “I’ll do my best”, you are defeated before you begin. These words say that you are going to lose because you are giving an excuse for not winning. Replace defeatist words with phrases like, “When I win” or “ When I get the best deal”.

Always negotiate for the best deal you can for your side. Do not be concerned about fairness as long as the other party can protect his own interests. Start out with the intention of getting the best deal you can and you will.

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