Fisher, Ury and Patton (1981), recommend the invention or generation of options for mutual gain. By searching for and generating options you avoid the mindset of having to negotiate over a fixed pie. Instead you promote an abundance mindset as you seek to expand the pie and create value. This may involve trading across differences as much as identifying shared interests. The process of identifying and dovetailing interests that we value differently provides a good opportunity to generate options for mutual gain and value creation. Remember, when you are negotiating, you may be in the position to offer something that is of very little value to you, but may be highly valued by the other party – search for these differences and much as commonalities to create value during your negotiations.
When preparing for negotiation it is recommended that you invent or consider a range of options that may best serve your interests and that of the other party. By understanding and clarification interests, both yours and theirs, you are then be in a position to develop a range of options that may best serve everyone’s interest.
During the negotiation process, the objective should be for you to work together with the other party to generate as many options for mutual gain as possible for consideration without having to commit – this creates a climate for joint problem solving (Fisher, Ury and Patton: 1981).
Fisher, Ury and Patton recommend that separate the invention or generation of options from deciding upon options. This process allows us to generate a number of ideas or options without committing, thus postponing the premature judgement/evaluation or criticism that often stifles creativity and ideas – it also promotes joint problem solving or searching for solutions that promotes collaboration and mutual gains bargaining.
The generation of options or alternatives falls within the value creation phase of negotiation (Lewicki, Saunders and Minton: 1997), forcing us to look beyond a single answer or solution when we are seeking to solve a problem. Search for options that align with shared interests or commonalities, as well as options that trade across or integrate complementary differences (interests, values etc) to create value. The generation of options promotes integrative bargaining and the objective of achieving ‘win/win’ outcomes that create value for each party involved.
In this post we have briefly touched on the element of generating options for mutual gain – your questions or comments on this topic are most welcome.