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The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust

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Negotiate while protecting the relationship over time

Negotiate while protecting the relationship over time

A successful negotiation is foremost one that leads to implementing an acceptable agreement for each of the parties involved. How can you pursue your interests whilst protecting a constructive relationship with the other party?

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When we need to negotiate, we tend to reason in a binary fashion: either we get what we want and thus win the negotiation, or the deal reached is below our expectations and we think we have failed. This reaction leads us to approach negotiation as a fight and to consider the other side as an enemy with interests that are opposed to ours. It is difficult in such a set-up to be constructive: we look at the situation as if it were a cake, of which we need to grab the largest portion.

Of course, we know, rationally, that any negotiating situation comprises several dimensions, and that it opens the way to smart agreements. This is illustrated by the parable of the two sisters who fight over an orange to each make a cake. A fight would lead one to win the orange and the other to be left with nothing. A hasty compromise would consist in splitting the orange in two. But, making the effort to collaborate to negotiate the sharing, they come to realize that one wants the orange for its juice, while the other needs the zest. This enables them to reach an agreement that is much more fruitful for both than an arbitration achieved through power relationship.

Yet, we seldom reach a level of confidence, information sharing and collaboration that thus allows the optimization of the negotiation’s final outcome. And the higher the stakes and the stronger the psychological pressure, the greater the temptation to privilege our own interests without consideration for those of the other party. It thus often happens that we think we won a negotiation hands down, to then realize that the situation is not as satisfying over the long run. We discover, for example, that the other party cannot meet the commitments made under pressure, as might be the case for a supplier who accepts too low a price and is finally not able to deliver the products—or yet, we notice a persistent resentment that damages the effectiveness of the relationship and eventually leads us to give up on future cooperation opportunities.

How can you pursue your interests whilst preserving the relationship with the other party?


In this synopsis:
– Three approaches to negotiation
– Defending your interests during tense negotiations
– Pacifying a conflictual relationship in a negotiation

Synopsis n.296b


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