People nowadays celebrate the fact that they reached a compromise, any compromise, regardless of what the outcome of that compromise delivers to the various parties involved in the compromise. It has gotten to a point where most people believe that any compromise that is reached in order to achieve an outcome or to gain peace — typically temporary — is better than no compromise, which results in immediate failure. In other words, most people believe that reaching a compromise is an end onto its own. This is so ridiculous, I don’t even know what to say!
It used to be that real win-win compromising was a skill that few possessed. And, when done well, it would lead to great outcomes for all the parties involved. But then, because successful win-win compromise is so difficult to achieve, typically of modern humans, compromise itself became the goal. People completely forgot why true win-win compromising was something to emulate and admire, and just made compromise the end goal. Eventually, and worse, people made any compromise the end objective. Meaning people now value compromise above all else, despite the fact that many times walking-away from a situation is far better than reaching a compromise for the sake of it. This lunacy must stop, because we are compromising our way to poverty, stupidity, immorality and chaos.
So, the questions that need to be asked are: What’s a good compromise versus a bad compromise, what makes a good compromise a win-win, and how do we achieve win-win compromises? A good compromise doesn’t force one party or the other to give-up on a core principle, trade-in a core value, act unethically, regard their integrity as fluid, pay only lip-service to honor nor deceive themselves or others. A good compromise allows both sides to hold intact that which is dearest to them, give both parties what they want and deserve, and to mitigate the risks involved for all. If you can achieve these goals then it becomes a good compromise, anything else is a bad compromise.
The difficulty is trying to come up with a solution that satisfies all of these conditions, which makes negotiations difficult, trust a hard thing to come by and true creativity and innovation priceless. This is where the phrase, “think outside the box,” truly holds sway and has real meaning. And, this is also what makes experience either a great asset or a massive handicap. If the negotiator’s experience has been filtered through the right paradigms and is coupled with innovation and creativity then the experience will be a major asset, otherwise it will destroy and hamper the relationship and the negotiations. In my experience, there are an extremely small number of people who have all three: The right experience, the right paradigm and the creativity and innovation required to be a highly successful and skilled negotiator. What’s interesting is that I’ve found that someone with the right paradigm, creativity, and innovative thinking is far more valuable than someone with experience alone. Moreover, someone who is a skilled negotiator in one endeavor is most likely to be a skilled negotiator in other endeavors as well. The only hurdle is that when changing the field of play, the skilled negotiator will require some study time to understand the drivers and the players involved before they can successfully negotiate a truly win-win compromise.
One of the greatest skills in negotiating successfully is knowing when to walk-away. This is where the vast majority of negotiators fail. They are so consumed by the need to reach a compromise, they would rather settle for a sub-optimal solution than walk away. Of course, this is the result of our culture, which focuses so heavily on the short-term, crossing over the proverbial “finish line” and a system of capricious and near-sighted rewards and punishments that ignore long-term rational behavior. And, because of this emphasis on short-term thinking, too many negotiators enter discussions with the attitude that what they are negotiating is a zero-sum game. In their minds, if the other party(ies) get(s) something then they automatically lose. This is the wrong attitude to walk into negotiations with. Yet, few, if any, understand this. This is also why, too many negotiators have the attitude that, “if I can get an inch, why not a mile?” And, it is also the reason why too many negotiators think there’s no harm in asking. Particularly in sensitive negotiations, what you don’t ask for is just as critical as what you do. This is because, at the heart of a truly successful negotiation, trust among the parties must be present. When a negotiator asks for something ridiculous in the eyes of the other party, it strikes at the heart of the negotiator’s credibility, and brings into question not only their sincerity and honesty, but also their scruples. This then breaks down trust, which then leads to insufferable and interminable negotiation sessions, and, all to frequently, it inevitably leads to outright hostility. Those of you who have suffered through many negotiations should know exactly what I’m talking about.
So, how does one prepare for negotiations of any kind. First and foremost, a successful negotiator must know what their highly specific final objectives are, what core principles are non-negotiable, what they absolutely must have, what they don’t need to have but would like to have, what is a matter of function, what is a matter of form, and have an idea as to what the other party might find disquieting about one’s position(s) and have potential solutions in mind to these issues. In addition, one must anticipate what the other side’s objectives are, what may be their sensitivities, where they may have flexibilities, what are immovable barriers, and what may be potential solutions to issues in their minds. Then one must find what appears to be common ground, where there may be differences that need to bridged, and how to bridge them, and where the two parties may clash and why. Most importantly, one must be completely willing to throw out all of the prepared work based on information gathered through actual discussions and remain flexible in terms of what the other side’s position might be and start the work all over again.
When actually starting negotiations, start with some basic assumptions — not only about the thing to be negotiated, but also about each other then find common ground, and build on that common platform as a starting point. Then make sure that every point going forward is based on those common assumptions and rationally built on top of the common ground. Be patient, build trust, be earnest, but not see-through, stand firm when you need to, but remain flexible otherwise. Also, starting off, make sure that you understand what the deal breakers are for the other side and let them know what the deal breakers are from your perspective, don’t lie about this and be prepared to stand firm on these issues. If these issues cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of both parties right off the bat then there is no point in continuing. Otherwise, leave all of the other tougher issues till last.
Regardless, don’t compromise for the sake of it. Always remember to never sacrifice that which is core to who you are, and, if you are negotiating on behalf of your business, never sacrifice that which is core to your business. Never be driven by short-sighted objectives, never allow yourself to be bullied, or bully others, know when to stand firm and when to be flexible, earn the trust of those you are negotiating with, don’t lie, be respectful and earn the respect of those you are negotiating with, be considerate, thoughtful and think of the people that you’re negotiating with as partners, not adversaries. Most of all, be creative, imaginative, and innovative. And, don’t try to think out-of-the-box, be outside the box.
Good luck with your negotiations, whether they be for your business, your relationships, with your children, parents, teachers, friends, or with your local services.
For more, please read my books, “… Under the Constitution with Liberty and Justice for ALL,” available at http://www.CreateSpace.com/3978962 and also available on Kindle, and “The New Constitution for Modern America,” available at http://www.CreateSpace.com/4281897 and also available on Kindle. Please don’t forget to rate this post. Any comments or questions are welcome and can be left for me on this blog, @Ahmedinejahd on Twitter, on Facebook or via email at AlexAhmedinejahd@Yahoo.com. Thank you in advance for buying my books, and rating this post. And, thanks for visiting my blog; I hope you get an opportunity to read my other posts. Have a great day!