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Negotiate interests: don’t get stuck in your position

People in disputes take positions, generally based on the power they wield or rights they feel entitled to. When disputes escalate, each disputant will want to “win” – which means someone has to lose.

Interests, by comparison, describe what needs to be satisfied.

A “win/lose” mentality forces people into a “position”. Underlying interests – what you actually stand to gain – become hidden by these “positions”.

The more fixed you become in your position of “not losing”, the more you lose sight of what you’re actually fighting for.

Interests can get revealed by asking and authentically acknowledging why a position is what it is. Uncovering your interests along with those of the other side will often reveal mutually compatible interests.

Effective negotiation is not about splitting the difference, but creating a fresh arrangement that doesn’t leave value on the table; something that ‘winners’ often overlook.

“Stubbornly persist, and you will find that the limits of your stubbornness go well beyond the stubbornness of your limits.”

~ Robert Brault


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