Expanding the pie – how creativity creates win-win in negotiations

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You know how it is in negotiations – we take one position and the other party takes another, quite different, position and each lobs points and counterpoints to try to move the other party closer to their position. Obviously the discussion stalls when both parties refuse to budge, creating a trench-like battlefield separated by “no man’s land”. In today’s article, I would like to look not at the trenches but at the no man’s land, and to see if we can bridge that by expanding the pie.

The fixed pie syndrome

Sometimes people have a warped thinking of negotiation success – to have the other party capitulate. Seldom will that happen in this day and age, especially with the advent of social media and consumer-protectionism. Even where there seems to be an imbalance of power, there will be leveling processes to make the playing field less lopsided. One of these processes is a strong BATNA, the others are as mentioned earlier.

Related: 5 Steps to create a strong BATNA for negotiation success

So when this happens, another phenomenon will arise; that there will increasingly be more stalemates. No party is willing to concede any ground to the other because there is no need to. The reason in adopting this is because both parties view the negotiation as a fixed pie situation. If the issue is about the purchase of a house, then the negotiation will centre around the price and how much one can knock off, or hold on to, more thousands (depending on which side of the fence one is). Fixed pie thinking has caused a company to lose good people, or for good opportunities to slip through the fingers. This often leads to sub-optimal solutions, and is not the way to the future. To overcome this, we need to learn to enlarge the pie.

What we negotiate for

Every so often, our negotiations centre around money. Yet, there are many more items that can be negotiated for, leaving the money issue aside. These may include:

  • payment terms,

  • discounts,

  • referrals,

  • warranties,

  • after-sales service,

  • rent-free periods, or

  • complimentary add-ons

The list can be endless and these may be easier wins. It doesn’t affect the psychological (and often sensitive) price element. When we enlarge the pie, we enlarge the elements for negotiation. And discussing each of these other non-price elements of the deal, and building in value to bolster the acceptance of the price, we can lead to faster agreements, and a win-win success formula.

So the next time you are going into a negotiation with a fixed price in your mind, think of the non-price elements that you can throw into the pie to enlarge it. After all, we don’t want a great deal to walk away simply because we were unable to think outside the box! And this is how creativity helps us make negotiations a win-win proposition for each and every one of us.

Have a great day!

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