There are times in the course of building a business that it’s imperative to create win-win situations – hint: all the time. Perhaps you’re white-labeling someone’s services, acting as the middle-woman, or partnering with another company or organization for an event or new initiative launch. Whatever it is, the art of creating win-win situations can be broken down into a science when empathy is at the forefront of the decisions. A true win-win achieves at least the minimum goal for all parties and entails a great deal of understanding.
It should be noted that these win-wins are usually reached through a negotiation process. I chatted with president of Amiba Consulting, Farshad Dehbozorgi, to talk about creating these types of amicable deals. Dehbozorgi creates endorsement deals between athletes and companies and has learned through his high stakes negotiations over the years how to reach a conclusion and win-win situation that works for everyone. Additionally, Dehbozorgi received a degree in alternate dispute resolution (mediation, negotiation, and arbitration).
Regardless of your specific business situation, consider these best practices for finding win-wins with potential partners and clients.
Best Practices For Creating Win-Win Situations In Business | Stephanie Burns
1. Understand And Align Priorities
The first and most fundamental step is simply to understand everyone’s outcome priorities. What is everyone’s overarching goal from this partnership or deal? Put on your ‘broker’ cap to get an outside view of the best terms for everyone. “I always take a step back and then put myself in the shoes of both parties,” said Dehbozorgi. “The simple question is: what is the benefit to each party of working with each other? If the benefit isn’t immediately tangible, it’s not worth even presenting.”
Of course, to fully know what the benefit is to each party, make sure there’s an open conversation about everyone’s priorities. Some may surprise you. Communication is key for this alignment.
2. Treat The Relationship As Long Term – Not Just One Deal
Next, see beyond the one deal and treat all negotiations as part of a larger relationship. “You can’t successfully create win-win situations consistently unless you’ve actually built long term relationships with potential business partners,” notes Dehbozorgi. When you treat these partners as long term friends and connections, the stakes become different. Maybe a specific deal or partnership isn’t working or aligning in the way you’d hoped today, but because of how you handle that conversation and how consistently you stay in touch, a different type of partnership can emerge later on.
Generally speaking, approaching any type of negotiation with a long term relationship in mind changes the dynamic of the conversation, and can help the person you’re negotiating with feel that you have their best interest at heart.
3. Create Contingency Agreements
Finally, if negotiations aren’t going as planned and little progress is being made, Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation blog recommends a contingent agreement. In it, the parties list out how they envision potential scenarios playing out. Then, a discussion about each scenario’s requirements and expectations occurs. A breakthrough is likely to happen here.
Like the name suggests, the agreement lists contingency clauses. For example, maybe the final payment is only contingent on a certain number of attendees at a partnered event. Or, maybe the partnership can be called off if results don’t meet a certain threshold within the first 90 days. This creates a cushion or safety net for the parties, making a win-win feel more plausible.
Finding win-win situations can feel challenging, but by prioritizing a long-term relationship, seeking to understand and align values, and creating contingency clauses, the negotiations can be more swift and ultimately, more fruitful.