Negotiation is Not a Competition

If negotiation is viewed as a means for determining who is right, it retains the underlying sense that, as a consequence, some parties end up winning and others emerge as losers. In this case, the negotiator always tries to negotiate so that he benefits more than the other party and creates an environment of ‘I win-you lose’.This is known as competitive negotiation.

Competitive negotiation yields winners and losers and reduces the likelihood that losing parties will be fully committed to the resulting agreement. If parties are compelled to fulfill their part of the agreement but end up with a bad taste in their mouths, they will approach future negotiations with the winner with reluctance, paranoia, and distrust. The long-term consequences of competitive negotiation are unfavorable, yielding reduced enthusiasm and commitment as well as damaged relationships.

For a negotiation to end well, it is imperative for both parties to assess the fairness of their own proposals from multiple points of view, not just their instinctive one – and to consider the fairness of their negotiation procedures as well as of their substantive proposals.

Collaborative Negotiation allows negotiators to deal with each other as people, to solve problems together, and to respect their differences as well as their common interests. It is a powerful, common-sense tool to advance the efforts and achieve the goals of both sides.

Negotiation is not a competitive sport. Negotiation is not a competition. Negotiation is about how the parties are going to bring about added value from having worked together.

Summing up: Taking a hard line may be fine – but only in the short term, and only if you really believe that your counterpart is your adversary. Negotiation is a series of episodes, which means that considering your counterpart as a partner or a collaborator is the foundation of trusting and fruitful— and ongoing – negotiation. How the game is played is the key in a negotiation.

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