One lesson that I learned from reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is exactly the kind of mindset you should have when you do enter a negotiation, whether it be about a freelance writing project or it’s about what to have for dinner tonight. The mindset is: win/win or no deal.
For One Person to Win, Someone Else Must Lose?
Far too often, people think that success is a zero-sum game. They assume that in order for one to win, another party must lose. That may be the case when it comes to competitive sports, but it doesn’t have to be the case when it comes to your personal and professional life. It is very possible for both parties to emerge as winners, given some negotiation, compromise, and a re-framing of ideas.
Let’s say that a movie studio wants to use a certain actor in an upcoming feature film. This studio may not have a large enough budget to manage the actor’s usual fee, so how can both parties emerge as winners? Let’s say that instead of a flat fee, the actor can take a smaller payment up front, but he also gets a portion of the ticket and merchandise sales that come down the road. This way, the studio gets the actor that they want and the actor has the potential of earning even more money than his standard fee.
Starting Off on the Right Foot
If the basis of a professional relationship is founded in a win/lose situation, that relationship is doomed for failure. If either party leaves the negotiation thinking that they got the short end of the stick, the negotiation was not successful. It did not provide a true win/win scenario and this is not a good foundation for a positive relationship.
Sometimes, rather than allowing one party to just “accept” what they perceive to be the shorter end of the stick, it can be better just to walk away. That’s the “no deal” part of the mentality described above. If you can’t have win/win, no matter how hard you try, then “no deal” may be the best solution for everyone involved. There are certainly some clients you want to avoid, just as there are likely some contractors that you want to avoid.
Unless both parties feel like they’re getting a fair shake and a good deal, it may not be worth proceeding. Be creative and come up with a way that both parties can emerge as winners and you set yourself (and the other party) up for the greatest opportunity at mutual benefit and success.