When Negotiating, Use Pronouns Like ‘We’—and 12 Other Win-Win Tactics

UPDATED: June 26, 2023
PUBLISHED: December 9, 2014

The next time you find yourself locked in a battle for your way, here are 13 important strategies that you can use in the challenging art of negotiation. 

Related: Follow These 9 Steps to Ask for What You Want (and Actually Get It)

1. Think of the long-term mutual gain instead of the short-time personal gain.

A win-win negotiation means a shared benefit. Forget about your own personal gain and concentrate on what will make both sides happy.

2. Set a trusting, cooperative tone for the meeting right from the beginning.

Win-win negotiations are built on a foundation of trust and shared respect. The ways to achieve this are to…

… state your desire to achieve mutual benefit.
… state your desire for a long-term relationship.
… insert the phrase win-win into your vocabulary.
… show proof of your honesty and willingness to serve.

3. Do your homework.

Know the answers to any question before it is asked. Don’t enter a negotiation and know nothing about what the other party desires or expects.

4. Discuss the issues using first person plural pronouns.

First person plural pronouns (we, our, us) highlight mutual benefit and suggest teamwork.

5. Focus on interests, not positions.

Positions are what you want; interests are how you get them. When you move from the what to the why, you move from a potentially negative discussion of demands to a positive discussion of common needs.

6. Increase the numbers of issues you negotiate.

You increase the chance for win-win outcomes by increasing the amount of matters you can resolve. Make it so both of you gain something of value.

7. Avoid ultimatums. 

A take-it-or-leave-it attitude creates pressure and limits options. Don’t paint yourself or the other person into a corner. That would make it a win-lose scenario.

8. Give to get.

Show your willingness to give and take as long as the other party is willing to do the same.

9. Don’t get caught up in the emotion of the negotiation.

Maintain your composure and objectivity. If you become angry, you lose.

10. Engage in creative problem solving.

The problem you and the other party are trying to solve can be stated very simply: How can we arrive at a deal that maximizes our individual benefits, minimizes our individual losses and is fair for both? Brainstorm all possible alternatives that achieve all three criteria. Choose the alternative both can live with.

11. Keep searching for ways to add value.

Leave out no possibility to find ways to increase the value of what the other person wants… while keeping what you want.

12. Make concessions gradually and in increments.

Small incremental moves are better than one sudden, large and drastic move during the course of the negotiations. Smaller compromises are less threatening and easier to obtain.

13. Document all agreements.

Avoid any possibility of a misunderstanding that would blow the whole deal. That would create a lose-lose scenario, and you will have wasted each other’s time.

Related: John Addison: 8 Tips to Master the Beginning, Middle and End of a Conversation

Rhett Power is the author of The Entrepreneur’s Book of Actions: Essential Daily Exercises and Habits for Becoming Wealthier, Smarter, and More Successful and co-founder of Wild Creations, an award-winning start-up toy company. Learn more at rhettpower.com.