The Negotiator Magazine

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  1. Win At All Costs. Win-at-all-costs is a negotiating strategy that is based on the belief that you are not responsible for the conflict and therefore will not budge an inch to the other side. You must be seen to win.

A simple demonstration of win-at-all-costs thinking is the £5 auction game. A group of people are invited to bid for a £5 note, starting at 50p and working their way up. Naturally, the bidding is brisk up to the £4.50 mark. But, more often than not, the bidding will pass the £5.00 mark and – contrary to all good reason and sense – will go higher as one side or the other wants to come out on top. Winning now matters more than the prize itself!

  1. Compromise. Although the end result of many negotiations is a coming together of positions and a settlement somewhere in the middle of extremes, compromise should not be a pre-planned strategy. This is because...
    1. it encourages a spirit of concession
    2. the other side will interpret your concessions as weakness and try to push you further
    3. negotiation is not about trying to be nice to one another
    4. your case may merit better than a compromise; their case may merit worse.
  1. Arbitration. Going to a third party is often suggested to resolve a negotiation stalemate but it should never be considered as an alternative to negotiations in the first place. If you’re tempted to resolve all your differences through a third party, first remember this Indian fable.

As two otters were standing on the banks of the river Ganges, a great fish came swimming by. The first otter dived in but, unable to overpower it, begged the second otter for help. He too dived in and together they brought the fish to shore. Then they began to quarrel as to who should have it.
A jackal came up to see what all the noise was about and they asked him to decide the case. The jackal cut off the fish's head and tail and said: "I divide the spoils equally" and gave the first otter the head and the second otter the tail and ran off himself with the middle part.
"Stop," shouted the otters, "you've taken the only part worth having."
"I can't help that," said the jackal. "When you call in a lawyer, you have to pay his fee. You should have settled things together."

  1. Win-Win. Win-win is the only strategy worth pursuing in negotiations. Just because the other side wins as well as you does not mean that your gain is any less. Win-win encourages constructive conflict: the belief that to come out on top does not only happen by destroying the opposition.

"It is as inappropriate to ask "who's winning?" in a successful negotiation as it is to ask "who's winning?" in a successful marriage.  The answer, of course, is: we both are."

Two four-year-old boys were playing soldiers together.
"I want to be leader," said one.
"But I want to be leader," said the second.
"OK. You be the leader in front and I'll be the leader behind," said the first boy.
"OK," said the second boy.

The best strategy to pursue in conflict is a win-win solution. This is the belief that, despite all the differences, a solution is possible that will benefit both sides. When you think win-win, and act win-win, out of discord comes the greatest harmony.


Eric Garner

Eric Garner is Managing Director of ManageTrainLearn, the website company that guarantees to make you a better manager, trainer and learner.

Eric is a graduate of the University of Cambridge and has many years’ experience as a HR manager and trainer. He is a Chartered Member of the UK Institute of Personnel and Development.  Eric Garner may be reached at


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March 2007