Why the Best Negotiators Prefer Collaboration to Domination

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January 05, 2022

Why the Best Negotiators Prefer Collaboration to Domination

Many negotiators believe that establishing dominance gives them an advantage during a negotiation. This belief is partly justifiable because acting dominantly by adopting dominant postures or raising your voice, for example, can help you gain some additional value in a negotiation.

Not always, though. There are cases in which trying to dominate hurts the negotiation more than it helps. In such cases, adopting a collaborating approach helps improve the outcome of the negotiation.

A Domineering Approach Hurts the Negotiation

Negotiators often try to dominate the negotiation for fear of being taken advantage of. However, acting dominantly can make your counterparty feel threatened and disrespected. As a result, you fail to create the conditions needed to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

Furthermore, a domineering approach alienates the other party, making them less willing to make concessions. Consequently, you end up losing on the value you would have obtained from the negotiation because the other party views you as an adversary.

Adopt a Collaborative Approach

A collaborative approach to negotiation prioritizes the relationship as much as it does the terms of the negotiation. It aims to create outcomes in which both parties win. According to Roger Fisher’s book “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In,” to negotiate collaboratively, you need

  • A Fair Process. People highly value being treated fairly.  Agree on a fair negotiation process to ensure both parties find the outcome satisfactory.

  • Joint Problem-Solving. Avoid viewing the negotiation as a battle of egos.  Framing individual wants as joint problem encourages both parties to take more equitable positions as it

  • Transparency and Trust. Embracing transparency wins you the trust needed to show the other party that negotiating collaboratively is in everyone’s best interest.

At times, the other party may favor a domineering approach. They may even view your desire to collaborate as a sign of weakness and an opportunity to gain an unfair advantage. Remaining calm but assertive can be highly effective.

Resist the temptation to mirror their domineering approach. Before you enter the negotiation, prepare a BATNA (backup alternative to a negotiated agreement) and demonstrate your readiness to use it should the need arise.

Don’t shy away from asking as many questions as you believe are necessary. Having relevant and accurate information improves the outcome of the negotiation. Some good questions to ask include

  • Would you explain the reasons for your position?

  • What part of my proposal are you most concerned about?

  • What documentation do you have to verify your position?

  • What else do you think I should know?

Always keep in mind that the whole point of doing business with someone is to exchange value, meaning you should both come out as winners. Doing so takes you out of the overly aggressive mindset and frames the discussion as a collaborative effort. As a result, you maximize the value both parties get from the contract you negotiate.

Likewise, note that the presentation of the contract you submit can improve the outcome of the negotiation. You can use a PDF to Word converter to create a well-presented contract that looks good aesthetically and clearly conveys all the relevant details. Submitting such a contract to the counterparty gives you credibility and makes it easy for them to understand it.

Get the Results You Want

As a negotiator, make every effort to negotiate collaboratively by agreeing on a fair process, embracing joint problem-solving, and adopting transparency. 

Visit your local chamber of commerce to learn more.