Join Fred Kofman for an in-depth discussion in this video Negotiate on the interests, part of Fred Kofman on Managing Conflict.
- At this stage of the conversation, we've understood one another. We still disagree, but now we know why and what each one of us is thinking. So now we need to see can we take these two perspectives and integrate them? Can we create something new? Most people, if they are good-natured and try to find a solution, they will try to find a compromise, and they'll say, "Okay, let's split the difference." Like, "I'm offering you 100, "you're asking me 200.
"Okay, let's settle for 150." That doesn't quite work. That's not very creative, and I would suggest not to start there. We might end up there, but that's not the first place. There's a very powerful technique to negotiate, which involves understanding what's important to each person. And instead of negotiating on the positions, which is what people have stated, negotiating on the interests or the concerns, which is what people haven't necessarily said, but it's underlying the positions.
What really matters to you? There's a famous book by Fisher and Ury called Getting to Yes. It's a 1970s book, and I think it's 1973, and it really started this trend about interest-based negotiation. So not to argue about what I want and what you want, but let's just go one level down. What's important to you? What's important to me? And then can we create something together, what's important to both of us? Let me tell you a true story.
I was arguing with my wife many years ago where to go for a holiday, and I just happened to be an avid skier, and she's not opposed to skiing, but she doesn't want to go skiing all the time. I wanted to go skiing all the time. So she said, "I'd like to go to the beach." And it's not that I want to go skiing all the time, but I really hate the beach. I just go crazy on the beach. I don't like being in the sand and not doing anything, and having to read a book or a magazine, it's just not my thing.
So I said, "No, I don't want to go to the beach." "Well, I don't want to go skiing." "Well, I want to go skiing." "Well, I want to go to the beach." So you see, this was (laughs) not the kind of conversation I like to use to illustrate this class, but I have to confess, that's the conversation we were having. And then I had this flash of insight, I had read the book by Fisher and Ury, so I asked her, "So tell me, what's really important to you "about the beach? "Why do you want to go to the beach? "What do you like?" And she says, "I like to be warm, "and I like the water.
"I love to be in the water." I'm like, "Oh, okay. "Well let me tell you what's really important for me "about skiing, it's I like to be outdoors, "I like to be active, and I like the thrill of adventure. "I feel the speed, and it's thrilling." And then we said, "Okay, let's write these things down. "What's adventurous, outdoors, sportsy "but warm and in the water?" And we started brainstorming. Like, all sorts of things came up like whitewater rafting, windsurfing, many things which we tried, but we didn't like anything as much as scuba-diving.
And we went scuba-diving, and I'm still an avid scuba-diver 20 years later, and we are still sharing that passion for scuba-diving. We both love it. Now, we love scuba-diving, but we would have never thought of scuba, we didn't know scuba, we learned scuba-diving because we couldn't agree on whether to go to the beach or go to skiing, but nobody said, "Okay, let's one year go to the beach, "the other year go skiing." We could have done that, and we had been doing that, but we actually took a step back and said, "What's really important?" And when we discovered what's really important, we said, "Can we put the ingredients together "and cook them differently?" It's like you have eggs and flour, and you can say, "Well, we're going to make a cake, "or we're going to make fried eggs and bread." And it's the same ingredients, but you cook them differently.
And what we found is that if we took our interests, and we cooked them in a different way, we could create something, actually today, I prefer to go scuba-diving than skiing. It's more fun for me. Even without her. It's just what I would prefer, but I would have never discovered that preference without this attempt to get a win-win solution. And many people speak about win-win, but there's a technique to win-win, and it's you stop trying to argue on your positions, you go one level down and say, "What's really important to you? "Why do you care about this? "What do you expect to get out of your position?" And then what great negotiators do is to find ways to give people what they want, really, without giving them what they ask, because people don't ask for what they want, people ask for what they think is going to give them what they want.
So in a good negotiation, we're both saying, "Okay, here's what we really want "beyond what we're asking. "Is there a way we can create that for both of us, "at least in part so there's mutual gain, "and we're both happy with what we do?" When you do that, it's magic, because you find new and creative alternatives. In the case, the perspective of Angeli was originally, "I'm going to tell you how to solve this problem. "And if I'm nice, I'm going to let you find out "how to solve the problem by yourself.
"And if you're very smart, you're going to discover "the way I already know is the right way "to solve the problem." But when she started negotiating what can we do, how does this work, the whole conversation changed, because both parties felt they had a say, both parties could participate and state what is important for me, and then in that importance, being taken care of, I'm much more willing to put it in practice. Whatever we decide, I'm going to put in practice, and that's going to be the next stage, how do you get from agreement to commitment?
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