I am often reminded that people see negotiation in a very different light – probably based on some bad experiences. When faced with a negotiation, people often expect that dreadful “c word” – Compromise!

I was reminded of this just yesterday when reading an article about an academic negotiation over exam content, the school board expressed concern that the governing body didn’t see that “for the negotiation to work they need to compromise”.

So is negotiation just a compromise?

There is definitely a need for flexibility, but that doesn’t always mean compromise. Negotiators think in ranges, so there should be flexibility in your positions, but moving from one point to another shouldn’t be a compromise – it should be done as a result of getting something back from somewhere else.

That is the great benefit of thinking in terms of If…Then conditionality. Nothing is a compromise if you are getting something back every time you give something to the other side.

Good preparation is the best way to make sure you trade effectively. By spending time figuring out where you have the most (and least) flexibility before you begin can give you the confidence and ability to get what you want from the negotiation.

So yes, if you don’t know how to negotiate, you can end up compromising your position, but if you follow our approach, you never need to compromise again.