Why Win-Win Only Sounds Good. There is no such thing!

When I was first hired by one of the largest construction companies in the world do a series of seminars teaching their employees how to negotiate the national training director said “I want you to train all the staff how to do “Win-Win” negotiations”. I was talking to the national training director because I had facilitated seven seminars in the southern California offices and each and every attendee walked out of those seminars knowing that “Win-Win” negotiations were what they had been trying to do for years and that it was really the basis for why they were in a negotiation seminar. Because it DOES NOT WORK! In short I spent the better part of the next several hours convincing the training director that “Win-Win” was a disaster and would cost the company thousands of dollars in every negotiation that it was used in. We made numerous calls to managers and past participants who had attended my seminars, convincing the director, that the system I had been teaching was indeed the way to proceed. The training director asked me to do several “test seminars” because he was still not convinced. That was 14 years ago and I am still doing numerous seminars each and every year for that same company, and make it a point of emphasis in each and every seminar that “Win-Win” is a disaster.

Win-Win is popular for several reasons, first it lets each and everyone who use it have an excuse for failure, its lets the negotiator say well I gave them that concession because it was the only way for it to be a “win-win”. It is the easy way out! The second reason it became popular is that it sounds so good and nice so it was an easy sale for all that were “selling” this approach. This is a reflection of so much in our society, that when kids are on the soccer and little league teams everyone should feel like a winner so everyone gets a trophy.

Win-Win ignores the fact that everyone is in it for their own best interests. People having a win-win attitude many times are bullied because they think that the only way to keep the “win-win” plan going is to make one concession after another in order to keep the other party happy. Experienced negotiators recognize “Win-Win” in their adversary right away and exploit it. In fact this attitude causes you to become much more emotionally involved in each and every step of the way thus causing you to be too focused on emotions rather than facts. This incorrect approach also makes the negotiator far more susceptible to the problem personalities that we run into far too often in a negotiation.

The correct approach keeps us focused on the preparation side concentrating on the issues that need to be discussed and questions that need to be asked to discover as much as you can about the facts, and circumstances as well as the other party. I talked about the importance of asking questions in a prior article and the reasons why questions are so important. If we follow the correct process and system for negotiating the whole concept of win-win will be a distant memory. The correct process focuses on what our mission is for each and every negotiation we are in and we are focused on the purpose. By following a system and a process you will you will have less stress, you will stay calm and you will not be subject to predatory and aggressive practices.