How can we create value at the negotiating table and reach a mutually beneficial agreement? Here are three tips from Max H. Bazerman of Harvard Business School: In the trading program, we invite you to aim higher by combining these competitive values with creating collaborative value. Not because it is the “nice” thing, but because it has proven to be the best way to reach an agreement that is truly beneficial to both parties. Negotiators often fail to reach a mutually beneficial agreement because they bring a win-win mentality to the negotiating table. It is true that negotiators have no choice but to haggle over a single subject in a small number of agreements and disputes, and that is usually the price to pay. For example, if you`re trading the price of a rug in a foreign bazaar, you may have trouble finding ways to expand the conversation and put other topics on the table. Business negotiators tend to make one offer at a time. If the offer is rejected, they will learn very little new information that would help them move forward. A better approach is to create three offers that differ on all topics, but are just as attractive to you.
The other party may reject all three offers, but it will probably communicate what it prefers – and put you back on the path to a mutually beneficial agreement. Don`t make the mistake of considering such complexity as a responsibility. In fact, it is the opposite. If there are several issues on the negotiating table, you will have the opportunity to develop mutually beneficial compromises with your partner. Through compromises, you can do more than you would have if you had simply made compromises on each problem. By doing so, you increase your chances of reaching a mutually beneficial agreement. Don`t make the most common mistake of looking at negotiations first as an exercise in persuading the other side to do what you expect them to do. With this way of thinking, you will focus so much on your conversation points that you will not listen carefully enough to what your opponent has to say. On the other hand, active listening and setting up many questions will help you gather the information you need to develop a mutually beneficial agreement.