Two men who know how to please everyone, shaking hands with each other outside.

Do you want everyone to win in a negotiation? Should compromises be allowed in a negotiation?

Herb Cohen states that the first step in a win-win negotiation is to establish a common goal: Announce to the person you’re negotiating with that you want to find a solution that satisfies everyone’s desires. This way, once you get into negotiation, both parties will actively search for win-win solutions.

Continue reading to learn why negotiation compromises fall short.

Don’t Seek Compromise

If you fail to establish this common goal, the other negotiator will focus the conversation on whether you’ll give in to their various demands. This creates an unfriendly atmosphere that makes it much more difficult to brainstorm mutually beneficial solutions.

When setting the goal of a win-win negotiation, Cohen notes that it’s important to clarify that you’re not looking to compromise. If both parties agree to look for a negotiation compromise, they enter the negotiation expecting to sacrifice something they want. Consequently, they stop looking for creative solutions and may resort to win-lose negotiation tactics to try and minimize their sacrifice. For example, imagine two project leads want the same programmer on their team. If they feel like they have to compromise and fight for a greater share of that programmer’s time, one of them may try to sabotage the programmer’s work so that the other team gives them away.

Nonviolent Communication: Win-Win Negotiation for Emotional Needs

In Nonviolent Communication, Marshall B. Rosenberg describes a communication style that’s essentially a broader form of win-win negotiation. Like win-win negotiation, nonviolent communication is based on the common goal of satisfying all parties. However, rather than satisfying situation-specific desires through negotiation, nonviolent communication is about authentically connecting to others by fulfilling everyone’s emotional needs.  For example, all people need to feel in control of their goals and values, openly celebrate and lament the good and bad things that happen to them, and feel accepted and supported by others.

Like Cohen, Rosenberg contends that people who fail to establish this common goal resort to making demands of one another. He states that these demands are a form of alienating moral judgment: Making demands implies that the other person is obligated to do something for you—and if they don’t, it makes them “bad” or less valuable as a person.

Furthermore, like Cohen, Rosenberg rejects the idea of pursuing compromise. If two people compromise on their basic needs in a relationship instead of finding a way to fulfill them, the relationship—no matter what kind—will be unsatisfying, and conflict will inevitably break out again.
Why You Shouldn’t Look for Negotiation Compromises

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.