The Truth About Win-Win Negotiating

Leigh Thompson

Almost everyone is familiar with the idea of a “win-win negotiation.” Seasoned negotiators will tell you that the only good negotiation is one that ends in a win-win. Yet some people think that simply means reaching any agreement. Other people think it’s a negotiation that leaves all parties still speaking. Still others think win-win means dividing everything equally down the middle. Although all of these outcomes are desirable, none of them captures the central concept of a win-win negotiation.

Simply put, a win-win negotiation is a negotiated outcome in which parties have reached an agreement that cannot be mutually improved upon. Thus, the term “win-win negotiation” actually reflects an important ...

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