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Integrative Negotiation: The Winner Does Not Take It All!

Integrative negotiation is a solution-oriented mode of negotiation. It involves a spirit of giving and taking between parties in order to explore all the options, find win-win solutions, and ultimately, arrive at an agreement that is acceptable to all parties involved.

Adamou Boubacar Amadou

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Negotiation is worthwhile when approached with a win-win mindset. It needs preparation and the consideration of both sides to be effective. Integrative negotiation means collaboration to reach a satisfactory agreement.

Integrative Negotiations

Collaborate to Win

Negation is a skill like many others. You build and improve on it with time.

Contrary to what most of us think, it is not a game where one party has to lose at the expense of the other. It is better when the outcome benefits both sides.

Many studies show that the advantages of a negotiation tend to go to the more collaborative side.

Good negotiation skills include empathy, communication, listening, conflict resolution, and self-awareness.

The Value of Engaging in Negotiation

You might ask yourself why in the first place, anyone would want to negotiate. "I don't want to get into an argument with anyone or try to persuade someone," you might think.

Most of the time, negotiation is not perceived as what it truly is — a conversation.  
We negotiate for alignment and value creation.

And the good thing is that negotiation does not happen only with two different parties.
We also negotiate with ourselves when deciding what to do or not.

The same thing happens when negotiating with others through questioning, openness, and reciprocity.

What is Integrative Negotiation?

It is a form of negotiation where many issues at stake are analyzed before agreeing on an outcome.

The outcome must benefit both parties.

It is a negotiation style that increases the chances of a win-win outcome.
Some common real-life cases and their issues include:

  1. A job offer
  • Issues: Salary, Location, Health insurance, Sign-on bonus
  1. Hostage situation
  • Issues: Money, Lives at stake, getaway medium(car, planes)

Integrative negotiation requires creativity, and this is partly what makes it challenging.

Coming up with innovative thoughts is not easy and requires us to think at both micro and macro levels.

There are usually three factors that govern integrative negotiation:
Time: the less you have, the less you'll perform.

Some studies show that 80% of concessions happen in 20% of the remaining time.
This is a beautiful illustration of the Pareto Principle.

Personal Power: conferred by one's expertise, title, character, or situation. Usually, the more you have, the better.

Information: the more you have, the better your chances to strike a deal. It helps you anticipate what the other party might.

You can leverage that information to propose an alternative and align to the goal.

Integrative Vs. Distributive

Distributive negotiation is a type of negotiation with only one issue at stake—usually the price.

In this case, one side has to benefit more than the other because it is not a multivariant situation.

It is the reason why it is also called "claiming value," "zero-sum," or "win-lose" bargaining.

The differences between integrative and distributive are:

  1. The options of negotiation, that is, the issues at stake, and
  2. The outcome, that is, when one party is better off, making the other worse off.

None of the integrative or distributive negotiations is better than the other. The context in which they are conducted matters a lot when deciding which method to adopt.

What Are The Steps In Integrative Negotiation?

At its core, negotiation is a form of problem-solving.

The steps can differ from one situation to another, but they all tend to follow the same pattern.

  • Clarify the problem
  • Identify the positions
  • Contrast with the interests in play
  • Brainstorm choices
  • Test and select the optimal choice in terms of expected outcome

It is good to know that effective questioning should be at the core of your negotiation strategy.  

Good questioning allows you to unveil unknown(often untold) information.
Here is a practical process that illustrates the above pattern.

Define The Negotiation Goal

This is like coming up with a problem statement when solving any problem.

You need a clear definition of the goal of the negotiation.

It is helpful to think from both parties' perspectives in defining the goal.
This way, you'll be able to craft a compelling statement that will lead to your intended outcome.

Some examples include reducing cost, improving loyalty, or fostering growth.

Research and Identification of Interests

If I was to agree with you, the first thing I would ask is what you would want in the first place.

For that to happen, I need to think from your perspective.

I need to ask myself, if I was in your position, what would I want and why? And in doing so, I need to separate the issue, your position, and your interest.

In a group-based negotiation, it is not easy to find the optimal point where these three elements meet. But focusing on the interests improves the odds of unblocking the situation.

I might not guess what you would want exactly, but not trying is not an option.
The identification of interest goes on both sides for myself and the other party.

As mentioned earlier, asking good questions should be at the centre of your strategy. And to better identify interest, you need to ask good questions.  

Questions to Identify Your Own Interests

  • What do I want to get from this negotiation and why?
  • What do I not want from this negotiation?
  • What value will a successful negotiation give me?

Questions to Identify Their Interests

  • What would they want to get from this negotiation, and why?
  • What is their alternative?
  • How will they enjoy the outcome of this negotiation?

At this stage, you should have a solid understanding of your negotiation goal.

Evaluate The Options


The next thing is to reorganize the information garnered and extract useful evidence.

At this stage, all the information would most likely not be helpful, so you need to decide what to keep and what to throw.

Do not hesitate to put everything on the table because brainstorming does not have to be perfect.

In fact, It shouldn't be because you need to explore various possibilities.
You need to classify the data point in relation to the end goal of the negotiation.

You must not fall into the trap of considering every detail of the negotiation.  
Keep in mind that not every tiny detail would support your final outcome.

Once you have analyzed and separated the wheat from the chaff, you are ready to develop a win-win strategy.

Create and Maximise Value

Value creation for both parties should be the goal of your negotiation. And to achieve this, you need to value the needs based on objective criteria.

The ultimate aim of creating value is to turn your opponent into your partner.
You cannot create value if you intend to take all that is there and only think for yourself.

Bring forward in the conversation what both parties will gain while being optimistic.

To achieve this, you might also want to think about where you both differ.
Use objective criteria to give meaning to your reasoning to connect with the other side.

To maximize value, you need to build trust and be open to change.
It comes as no surprise that if people don't trust you, they won't bother trying to get a fair deal with you.

Realize that your perceived value might be different from theirs.
Knowing how to state your value without diminishing it would help a big deal.

The Most Important Facets Of Negotiation


Preparation: you shouldn't enter a negotiation without preparation.
You have everything to lose, especially if the other party prepares.

In as much as they would want to play a fair game with you, you wouldn't know what fair means to them in relation to you.

Preparation will help you understand what is at stake and how to make it work fairly for both of you.

Opening Gambit: it is a tricky one, but in integrative negotiation, it does not have to be. Because the aim of the negotiation is to satisfy both sides, how you open the negotiation matters more than who opens it.

Ability to Walk Away: Not every negotiation would end in a value-adding way for both parties.

If you happen to be in a less privileged position, think about your BATNA(Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement) and your ability to walk away. You don't have to accept a negotiation outcome if it does not meet your goal.

Bottom Line

To conclude, negotiation should not be seen as a game of absolute winners or losers.

The ultimate goal should be to reach an agreement that arranges both parties. When everyone is satisfied in a negotiation, it creates room for future collaboration.

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Adamou Boubacar Amadou Twitter

Growth Specialist and Content Creator. I write content at the intersection of business and technology to help you learn while I do the same. Helping SaaS Startups Scale With Digital Marketing.