How to Have Win-Win Even When the Other Side Refuses

You can negotiate to a win-win result even if the other side is not committed to win-win.

When you negotiate for win-win, you make clear the outcomes both sides want to see. The opposite of a win-win negotiation is one based on stands. A stand in a salary negotiation might be, “I must make $120K.” A win-win outcome for that salary negotiation might be, “I want to feel well paid, meet my current needs, and to grow my retirement funds in line with my long-term plan.”

Once you have made clear your desired outcomes, ask the other side what are their desired outcomes. If they spell out their desired outcomes, you are negotiating for win-win. Proceed to brainstorming how to generate both sets of desired outcomes. Chances are you’ll arrive at a better solution together than either side could have generated alone.

If, instead, they repeat their stand, then say, “Thank you. That may become the solution we agree upon to generate my (our) desired outcomes and yours. There may be even better solutions. We can only find the best solutions when we know what your desired outcomes are. Would you be willing to say what you believe your proposed solution (i.e. their stand) will do for you? What happens if we don’t choose your proposed solution?”

If you refuse to proceed until they describe what makes a win for them, you can never fall back into win-lose (“I overpower”) or lose-win (“I capitulate”).


In your corner,


2 thoughts on “How to Have Win-Win Even When the Other Side Refuses

  1. Mike
    I really like the questions you propose asking to try to move from “stand” to an “outcome”.
    I think this will work very well when “negotiating” with one of my children.

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