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Negotiation – there is more than getting what you want

I am sure you will often hear news pieces like these:

  • “The Prime Minister of Kingdom A and the President of Republic of B are negotiating the possibility of a free trade agreement to stipulate economies in both countries”; and
  • “ABC Corporation and XYZ Company have entered into an M&A negotiation to bring synergy to their business, and more broadly, to their industry sector.”

“Negotiation” is a common term here – but what is a “negotiation”?

In these two examples, “negotiation” looks like a very long and bumpy way to go.

Then here is my question – is it really? Is negotiation really something very difficult?

Let’s look at some other situations:

(1)     You see a poster on campus which invites students to study abroad for a semester…and you are very keen to it. You bring the idea to your parents, but they are not necessarily agreeing with you somehow. So you persuade them to allow you to join this program.

(2)     You and your best friend decide to go to a trip…to somewhere. You want to go to an island resort because you want to enjoy water sports; but your friend insists on going to Switzerland and both do not give away.

What are some things in common between the two difficult situations at the beginning and the two daily-life situations right above?

There should be various answers, but I would like to point out one here: everybody involved in these 4 situations are trying to achieve something. In other words, they are all trying to get something of their own benefit from the situation.

In this regard, those two everyday-life examples can be also labelled as “negotiations,” can’t they?

As a next step, let’s think about how you can get what you want.

…But wait a minute. Didn’t we just say that “everybody” involved in a negotiation want something out of it? Then, don’t you think it would be much more efficient and also desirable to know what your counterpart is looking for and to achieve it at the same time?


In above situation (1), your parents may be disagreeing because they are worried about your safety in a different country. Once you become aware of this concern, can’t you propose to choose a country with lower crime rates or to live in a dorm provided by your host school?

In situation (2), your best friend may want to visit Switzerland because he/she wants to enjoy hiking. Given this, maybe you can bring in a new choice to go to Colorado, USA where there are many lakes to enjoy water sports and beautiful Rockies to hike.

This relationship between the two parties are called “win-win,” because both parties are getting something; it is not a situation where one party gets everything they want and the other gets nothing.

Negotiation can be found anywhere in your daily life.

It is not some a fancy/difficult way to do something special.

It is just a process to achieve something – if you think this way, negotiation does not look so bumpy, does it?

P.S. If you are interested and would like to know more about negotiation, this is one of the books I would recommend: “Getting to Yes: Negotiation Agreement Without Giving In” by Roger Fisher, William L. Ury and Bruce Patton.

Yui Ota

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