There are always exciting challenges in the context of negotiations. Which method is most effective, what can help you, it’s all a question of the goal you have in negotiations.

But what always comes up is the following graphic from Lewicki.

Leif AG (2020) and source: various negotiation strategies according to Lewicki (1998).

Lewicki and others have defined 5 fields for negotiation. These will be briefly described here.

 

  • Avoid (Vermeidung): If you are neither interested in the result nor in the partner, the avoidance strategy is a good choice. Winning, i.e. in terms of relationship and/or result, is not what you want here – therefore you avoid time and effort. What sounds a bit strange at first, makes sense if you are in a situation where you actually don’t want to negotiate, but can’t or aren’t allowed to say so directly. For example: you don’t annoy key customers – but react smoothly but without interest.
  • Adapt (Anpassung): You have a high interest in the relationship. And do not necessarily depend on a result in their sense. Having a good relationship to begin with and postponing the outcome settlement until later could be part of your long-term strategy. Strengthened relationships are more resilient per se, and people have a keen sense of prior benefits already received.
  • Compromise (Kompromiss): Both sides try to stay clear and do no harm. You agree on a solution where no one loses and no one gains.
  • Cooperate (Kooperation): Here, the balancing act is between getting a good result and strengthening the quality of the relationship at the same time. Here, there is often an expansion of “negotiating options” that results from openly addressing both interests.
  • Competing (Konkurrenz): Here they primarily strive for a “good” outcome even at the expense of relationship quality. Those who act with competition in the negotiation take the position that “My gain is the partner’s loss”; the pie is defined. Negotiations with monopolistic buyers (“Sorry, but don’t hurt…”) fall under this heading.

What I find more exciting are the axes. These are what we want to turn to here:

 

  • Interest in the relationship (Beziehung): Maintaining and or improving the relationship is an important component of this axis.
  • Interest in the result (Resultat): The assertion of one’s own interests is in the foreground.

If we now translate the graphic into practice, we can see why we tend to adapt or avoid our partner in negotiations much more often. We don’t want to strain the relationship and accept our “losing” because we assume that we can gain more over time. The other tactics focus on our own gain. Whether we are aiming for a Harvard “win-win” or a more borderline method like Schranner is completely open.

Excitingly, all methods see the compromise as not very sustainable, because it is not a real solution, but is seen as a negative basis for the next negotiation. In life, however, we more often do the opposite. We try the quick compromise at the expense of both the relationship and the outcome. So let’s be more courageous and clear in our negotiation. It is at least much more fun than just compromise.