Step 4 – Negotiating as We

When most companies think about negotiating, they think about negotiating specific deal points such as the scope of work, pricing, and terms and conditions.

Step 4: Negotiating as We, turns conventional negotiating strategies on their head because it begins the negotiating process by negotiating the mechanisms the parties will jointly use as they negotiate specific details.

Why? In long-term relationships, negotiating is not a once and done event. Rather parties should expect to negotiate throughout the life of the relationship, especially when unforeseen circumstances happen, such as natural disasters, economic downturns, or even market fluctuations that change the balance of the economics and profitability of the parties. As I like to say “business happens” and organizations need to be prepared to renegotiate some—or perhaps many—aspects of the original deal to keep the relationship focused on achieving the Shared Vision in a mutually beneficial manner.

Step 4 encompasses three elements that distinguish the Getting to We negotiating process from other conventional, transaction-based negotiations. These elements are described in chapters 6, 7 and 8 of Getting to We: Negotiating Agreements for Highly Collaborative Relationships, (Jeanette Nyden, Kate Vitasek and David Frydlinger).

From Chapter 6

Chapter 6 provides suggestions for establishing and following four rules for highly collaborative negotiations. The negotiating parties should agree to abide by these rules in advance, ensuring that the way each party negotiates supports continuous collaboration while discussing the details of the deal.

The rules are:

  1. Sit side by side and face the issues together.
  2. Let the guiding principles govern behavior. Always follow the six guiding principles (see Step 3)—there are no exceptions.
  3. Develop a flexible framework to achieve the Shared Vision (Step 2) that allows parties to remain stable and adaptable to changing circumstances.
  4. Follow the principles; adapt the goals. When there is a conflict between achieving a goal and following one of the six principles, always choose to follow the principle and find another way to meet the goal.

These rules must be clearly communicated, understood and agreed upon by all stakeholders. In addition, it may be necessary to identify and document additional rules that are specific to the relationship. Bottom line, the goal is to identify and document any additional negotiating rules the parties intend to follow. And if the rules aren’t working, stop to understand why; never disregard the rules, as this could also be considered cheating.

From Chapter 7

Chapter 7 compares and separates conventional self-interested WIIFMe (What’s in it for Me) negotiating strategies and tactics from Vested WIIFWe (What’s in it for We) strategies and tactics. It provides tips to help negotiators understand that negotiation styles, strategies, and tactics can either support or undermine collaborative efforts.

There are three important aspects of negotiating under the WIIFWe mindset and Getting to We process:

  • First, the negotiation style people choose has a huge impact on not only the negotiations, but also the relationship. Your contracting style matters—whether it’s muscular, benign or credible. For example, for highly collaborative relationships the muscular style simply won’t work while the benign contracting style can lead to passivity and complacency—even gullibility. A credible contracting is both hardheaded and wise, striving for clear results and accountability while avoiding a negative or a mean-spirited atmosphere in favor of cooperation.
  • Second, people make critical decisions when they choose a strategy, so negotiation strategies must be aligned with the WIIFWe mindset. Getting to We strategies are “together” strategies and the results are what’s best for the individual partners and for the relationship.
  • Finally, tactics must support—not undermine—a collaborative atmosphere during negotiations. Tactics are the specific negotiating methods that support a negotiation strategy or approach. While it’s one thing to say you going to follow a WIIFWe mindset when negotiating, all too often individuals find themselves falling into the trap of classical “me tactics”—such as bluffing, intentional ambiguity, stonewalling, good cop/bad cop—they’ve always employed. Rather, in a Getting to We negotiation process, the parties need to encourage “we tactics,” such as sharing data, leveraging the guiding principles, avoiding opportunism, sharing the vision and even leaving money on the table.

A good way to stay the course with We vs Me tactics is have the negotiators document the various tactics that are acceptable versus not acceptable – and for everyone involved in the negotiation to hold each other accountable for not using off-limit tactics that will undermine the bigger picture of what you are trying to accomplish.

From Chapter 8

Chapter 8 is designed to help parties exchange value in a fair and balanced manner in order to provide long-term mutual benefits for them. Often, parties entering into highly collaborative relationships know there is more value—usually latent value—by working together. But, they do not know how to unleash that value in a highly collaborative relationship. In a truly collaborative partnership, value is created and allocated in a continuous process for mutual gain by making balanced exchanges. Chapter 8 lays out a step by step Creative Value Allocation process to help parties negotiate the creation and allocation of value, risks, and rewards.

For an extensive discussion of the Negotiating as We process, including the rules for collaborative negotiations, WIIFWe strategies and tactics, and the Creative Value Allocation process, see chapters 6, 7 and 8 of Getting to We.

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