Negotiation and Manipulation - what is the difference?

Anthony from United Kingdom asked:

"Does negotiation always mean manipulation? What are the boundaries?"

A Negotiation Expert Answered:

To provide the best answer, it is useful to start by considering the differences in meaning between the words.

The Oxford English Dictionary gives the following 3 relevant definitions for the verb "manipulation":

  1. handle or control with dexterity.
  2. control or influence cleverly or unscrupulously.
  3. alter or present (data) so as to mislead.

The following 2 relevant definitions are given for the verb "negotiate":

  1. try to reach an agreement or compromise by discussion.
  2. find a way over or through (an obstacle or difficult path).

We find it interesting that our "Negotiating to Win More!" methodology owes its success in no small part to the enlarged and enriched definition we attach to the verb "negotiate". Negotiation Academy - Australia defines negotiation as: "An interactive process, whereby parties create and explore alternatives together, in their common quest to reach a value-added agreement that is mutually acceptable and that will be honoured by both parties.

Perhaps the most useful way to answer this question is to consider the three most prevalent negotiation models of today.

Positional Negotiation is characterised by each party competitively manipulating the outcome in such as way as to serve their own interests through claiming as much value as possible. Positional negotiators typically care little for their relationship with the other party. They earn a reputation for toughness rather than being a negotiation partner with whom it is a pleasure to negotiate. Their focus is short term gain, resulting in battles being won and the war being lost.

Win-win Negotiation by contrast is characterised by both parties actively seeking out joint opportunities for mutual gain. Win-win negotiators place a high value on having a good relationship with the other party. This earns them the reputation of being good and fair negotiation partners. Instead of focusing on their own positional preferences, they look into the future in their quest to find solutions that meet all parties common interests. Problems are solved through gaining a thorough understanding of the problem and its causes.

Until recently the win-win negotiation paradigm offered our world the best known way of meeting Oxfords definition of what was possible when parties "negotiate". So what changed to bring into existence a third definition? Negotiation Academy - Australia was not satisfied with merely reaching a compromise or by focusing on obstacles or difficult paths as a method of finding a way over or through problems. By its definition, a successful win-win negotiation was the compromise settlement of a fractured, carved-up Berlin after the Second World War. This is why Negotiation Academy - Australia expanded the definition to what is now known as a Win More Negotiation. So how does Win More negotiation improve upon win-win negotiation?

Win More Negotiation is a principle led methodology, informed by the worlds most advanced substantive, relational and creative processes. Win More negotiation focuses firmly on future solutions, without spending undue time dissecting past problems (Albert Einstein put it well when he said: "The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.") Win More negotiation is not satisfied with reaching compromises - it seeks value-add for both parties so that no gold is left on the table. A successful Win More agreement is one where the solution achieved is the very best for all parties concerned (within time constraints) - rather than seizing the first mutually acceptable compromise.

Our clients realities are such that win-win negotiations often fail to create sufficient value to keep each side from lapsing back into antagonistic positional tactics. When products and services have become commoditised, and competition is rife, it becomes essential rather than preferable to use a highly evolved toolset that delivers truly creative results for all parties concerned.

So we hope you understand what we mean when we urge you not to "negotiate to win", but rather to "negotiate to win more!"

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0 of 1 people found the following comment useful:

Double manipulation - 2009 Mar 3
Commentator: Pauline (Australia - Queensland)

"I didnt know what the meaning of manipulation was, until I met my husbands ex-wife & daughter. They have perfected the art so perfectly and always to there advantage, I deeply thank you for all this information, I now know what I never wanted to, Ever!"

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