Our Middle School Eagles have been on a three week Negotiations Quest.
You might think negotiations are merely haggling – issuing demands and holding your ground. Bargaining certainly can be a critical part of a negotiations strategy, but as the MS Eagles discovered, it’s far better to “make the pie bigger” with a win-win approach than to battle over crumbs.
During the session, MS Eagles tackled a series of difficult negotiating role plays, moving from simple distributive negotiating, mainly over price; to destructive “lose-lose” battles to be avoided at all costs; to more complex “win-win” negotiations that require a humble demeanor, listening, creativity and generosity; to the complexity of multiparty negotiations.
Along the way, MS Eagles listened to Master Negotiator Herb Cohen, who gave a key piece of advice – “you gotta care….but not that much.”
Our final test was a real world negotiation. Some MS Eagles made a win-win approach to parents; others elected to engage in “foreign relations” with the Elementary Studio, hoping to craft an Eagle Buck treaty between studios. In both cases, the results had to be “win-win,” with complete honesty and a relationship that was stronger at the end of the discussions than at the beginning.
The result? Across the board success. Those who entered discussions with parents found that a carefully timed approach, attention to the relationship and a generous heart led to far better results than bickering. And with the Elementary Studio deliberations, Eagles were surprised by the number of win-win issues that surfaced, in the end signing a Trans-Studio Eagle Buck Treaty.
Yes, it’s important to identify whether your opponent has a competitive, destructive or collaborative intent. But as our MS Eagles discovered, when possible, win-win negotiations make the pie bigger for all.