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Best If We Both Win
by Mike Babineaux

I learned some time ago that in negotiating, a victory only for my side was really a victory for nobody. This "Win-Lose" situation happened whenever I didn't negotiate effectively. The effects were devastating to my business relationship with my vendors.

Yet, how many buyers are really successful negotiators? Certainly not as many as there should be. The truth is that most of us can learn to improve our negotiation skills.

Sandra Parlin, a conflict management consultant, claims that an "everybody wins" situation is created when buyers understand and respect the reasons behind the sales person's position. If that doesn't happen and a win-lose approach is adopted, the vendors trust disappears very quickly - and it'll take you a long time to rebuild it.

Not only does trust disintegrate, but stress levels rise, adversarial relationships develop, and communication suffers. The syndicated columnist Sydney J. Harris once wrote, "To communicate well and meaningfully, it's not enough to make one's meaning plain to a listener. It's, first of all, to make one's meaning plain to oneself, to understand the real motives for our attitudes, to hear the half-tones, flats, and sharps of our own prejudices and to separate (however imperfectly) the voice of reason from the voice of childishness."

Maybe it's the "voice of reason" Sandra Parlin describes when she says negotiators should avoid confrontation, gloating, and/or trying to "destroy" the other. This only induces a desire for revenge in .the opposition. Above all, successful negotiation is contingent upon helping the other person to avoid humiliation and to "save face." Even if an agreement cannot be reached immediately, it's important to build good will for the future.

An "everybody wins" negotiation requires skill, patience, and understanding. The effort is worth-while because it creates more trusting relationships, less stressful work environment and better business deals.

That's my opinion, what's yours?

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