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Win/Win Negotiation

In this interview for the MIT Thought Leader Series, Jared Curhan, Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management and Associate Professor of Organization Studies at the Sloan School of Management, sits down with Hal Gregersen, Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center, to discuss the core leadership skill of negotiation.

Look out for words, such as empowerment, leadership, empathy assertiveness: All are covered in the EmpowerMe Process


Win/Win Negotiation | Wanting What’s Fair For Everyone

Life is a series of negotiations. Whether we realise it or not, we negotiate all day, every day. At work, it’s contract terms, hiring, firing, defining deadlines, rallying the team, creating partnerships, dissolving them. At home, the negotiations continue – over who will clean the house, or handle school pick up and drop off the kids; enforce kids’ screen time, or decide how much to save and how much to spend. From the major to the mundane, the lists go on. Simply put, we’re always negotiating something.

In a recent interview with me for the MIT Thought Leader Series, Jared Curhan put it like this: “Negotiation is a source of empowerment. It’s how we achieve things in the world.”

But for most of us, negotiating isn’t easy or comfortable. However negotiation is a core leadership – and life – skill. And while no one person negotiates (or leads for that matter) in precisely the same way, successful negotiators and leaders count on EmpoweMe tools and techniques to make a positive  difference

A win/win approach to negotiation takes account of the many needs and behaviours of the parties involved.

This approach is sometimes known as interest-based bargaining. Roger Fisher & William Ury in Getting to Yes (London: Business Books 1981) identify it as ”principled negotiation or negotiation on the merits”

This can be understood as a process which seeks to meet needs or interests; not to win positions or to gain victories for people. It’s very different to positional bargaining in which each side takes a position argues for it and at best, makes concessions to reach a compromise.

Four main points to define this method of negotiation.

  • Separate the people from the problem
  • Focus on interests, not positions
  • Generate many options
  • Use objective standards

Different types of behaviour are appropriate in different situations. Mostly, we will be very practised in using two or three behaviours, and may feel less comfortable with the others. The more flexible we can become, the more choices we have about how we relate to others, and the more opportunities we have to resolve difficult situation or conflict.

For the win/win approach to become our first choice, we need to develop new skills. We need to be empowered enough to learn to step back from solutions, to considerate need or concern driving each person to particular outcomes.

A win/win approach is not the same as a win/win outcome. It is the approach that’s the key.


  • To explore key skills and the structure of negotiation.
  • To practise negotiation skills
  • .To consider types of behaviour we use to resolve conflict.
  • To understand the principles and the value of a win/win approach.

Session Times: 1 day


What do we understand by the term ”negotiation”?

In what ways is our style of negotiating different depending on the situation?

The Win/Win Approach


Satisfaction Triangle

The best alternative to negotiation

The worst alternative to negotiation








How might parties in a negotiation show their resistance to shift from their positions?

Responding to Resistance from Others

Sometimes we find ourselves in the midst of a negotiation, when we weren’t even planning one. However, as we have already noted preparing carefully for a negotiation may result in it being more effective.
One aspect of preparation is working out how to open the negotiation. If we are able to introduce our idea in a way that captures the interest of the other person, we may succeed in:
• setting a positive tone for the negotiation
• pre-empting some objections
• decreasing resistance and negativity from the other person.

Becoming aware of the styles we tend to choose means that we are able to pay special attention to skills and approaches, which capitalise on the strengths and avoid the pitfalls of those styles.

”Strategies for Responding to Unfair Tactics”.

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