Compromise in Negotiations – What Makes it so Popular?
Why is compromise toxic to success?
Know what you need to play in the Business Winners’ League.
“Let’s meet in the middleˮ.
“Let’s find a fair solution/a fair priceˮ.
Sounds reasonable? Maybe. But it doesn’t sound like business and certainly not like winning.
I hear this from people who would love to win… if they were free of the compromise mindset. They come to me for negotiation coaching to free themselves of this blocking mindset and build their strategy on a solid basis.
What does “winningˮ even mean in the context of negotiation?
If I talk about winning and negotiating, I often sense at least one of the following reactions in the room – curiosity, scepticism or rejection.
Curiosity – in those who are/would like to be successful and achieve something in business, career or life in general. They are interested in solutions and are willing to do more in order to achieve them.
I sense scepticism in those who are insecure about themselves and their goals. They are lacking in (self-)confidence, motivation and strategy.
Those who react with rejection associate winning only in combination with losing. “If I can’t win then I’ll loseˮ or “If I win then my opponent in the negotiations will lose – that makes me uncomfortableˮ is what I hear again and again at the beginning of negotiation counselling.
No, winning through negotiation does not automatically mean that someone loses! It only means that YOU get your needs, wishes and demands through. This does not exclude your negotiating partner also emerging from the negotiation process as a winner.
There is no smarter and more effective way of solving problems and achieving gains on both sides than through negotiation talks – in business, in your career, in private life AND also in politics!
The compromise mentality is definitely not profitable. The best that can come out of it are lukewarm solutions with short-term expiry dates.
Compromises are like unripe grapes – they leave a sour/bitter aftertaste and a feeling of disappointment. It is not for nothing that we talk about “rotten compromisesˮ.
In negotiations, compromises do not bring about sustainable cooperation but pave the way for future conflicts because the problems/conflicts have not been solved but only undermined/shifted. Meeting in the middle is a myth and the middle is always in the wrong place. There are better ways of resolving things.
Why do many people strive for compromise instead of wanting to win?
In my many years of experience as a negotiation expert I have grouped the causes into 4 reasons, which are:
- People are afraid of getting stuck in an impasse if their demands are rejected.
- People are afraid of being labelled as greedy or rude. Women, in particular, worry about being unpopular if they are dissatisfied with the outcome – no matter whether it is about salary/pay, a leadership position or work distribution.
- People have “moral” thoughts and pre-conceived ideas which get in the way of success. Sayings like “money is badˮ or “a wise man changes his mind, a fool never willˮ shape their relationship with money and profit in a negative manner.
- Because people do not know exactly how they can win. They are lacking the solid strategy and clear plan to be able to achieve their goals through negotiation.
You can read here about the greatest “enemyˮ in negotiations.
What makes compromises so popular?
They are convenient. If you compromise, you don’t have to go the famous “extra mileˮ. You don’t have to risk anything or fight so much if you don’t have to. This is often the case when a safety net is available or when the responsibility for winning does not lie with the negotiator himself.
They appear to be ethical. Above all the “fair priceˮ has a human flair about it, doesn’t it? As a client told me last week, “The very fact that I think about my opponent in the negotiation and want to accommodate him makes me feel good – I feel generousˮ.
The need for harmony is satisfied, which is reassuring. Everything runs smoothly according to the motto “No conflict and no loss without a struggle”.
Why are compromises toxic to success?
There are 3 categories of people in negotiations who cannot afford the compromise mindset:
2. People responsible for profit/turnover in companies and
3. People who are determined to achieve good in their lives, i.e., entrepreneurial thinkers.
All 3 categories must be set on success and winning, otherwise they cannot achieve their goals or the company goals. Those who compromise and therefore strive for mediocrity will achieve mediocrity at best.
A successful company lives not only from the quality of its products/services but also from successful customer acquisition, customer loyalty, sales and cooperation with partners. This can only be achieved if the people and teams working in these areas accomplish high-quality persuasion in their work and have negotiation skills.
Leaders also have to win over their employees for the company’s goals – no one can become successful on their own. Even the best champions have a coach and team around them that actively support them.
Anyone who wants to play in the Business Winnersʼ League – no matter whether an entrepreneur or an employed manager – needs courage and negotiating skills, just like in my true story.
How does negotiating in the Business Winnersʼ League work?
Only with thorough preparation that takes 2 aspects into account: strategy and mental strength – throughout the entire process.
It makes a difference whether you negotiate as an entrepreneur or as a manager, whether for yourself or for someone else.
As an entrepreneur you are on your own and this has both advantages and disadvantages. The advantages include the fact that you are not subordinate to anyone and therefore need not justify your decisions and actions. The disadvantages include the great responsibility for the company, customers, and employees. Even if you have a sales team, you as an entrepreneur are responsible for the price of your products or services.
As a manager with executive functions you are responsible to your employer. If you work in sales or procurement, you must also focus on customer satisfaction, on numbers and on your team. Read here how to stay strong mentally and goal-driven in negotiations.
You can find a few ideas here about negotiating as an entrepreneur when failure is not an option.
Find out what helps in negotiations with large organizations.
If you have to negotiate under high pressure, please read about these 5 steps to keeping the critical situation under control.
Try to avoid these 3 frequent mistakes when negotiating your salary in a job interview.
I would be happy to be your sparring partner and make you fit for your next negotiation!
Your Raluca Ionescu