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Negotiation in Action

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Negotiation is a means of resolving differences between people.  In the process of negotiation, not only are different opinions taken into account, but also individual needs, aims, interests and differences in background and culture.

This page looks at different ways we may negotiate including the 'Win-Lose' approach, also known as bargaining or haggling, and the 'Win-Win' approach to negotiation, which is preferable when you want to build a meaningful and strong interpersonal relationship.

The Win-Lose Approach to Negotiation

Negotiation is sometimes seen in terms of ‘ getting your own way ’, ‘ driving a hard bargain ’ or ‘ beating off the opposition ’.  While in the short term bargaining may well achieve the aims for one side, it is also a Win-Lose approach.

This means that while one side wins the other loses and this outcome may well damage future relationships between the parties. It also increases the likelihood of relationships breaking down, of people walking out or refusing to deal with the ‘ winners ’ again and the process ending in a bitter dispute.

Win-Lose bargaining is probably the most familiar form of negotiating that is undertaken.  Individuals decide what they want, then each side takes up an extreme position, such as asking the other side for much more than they expect to get.

Through haggling – the giving and making of concessions – a compromise is reached, and each side’s hope is that this compromise will be in their favour.

A typical example is haggling over the price of a car:

“What do you want for it?” “I couldn’t let it go for under £2,000.” “I’ll give you £1,000.” “You must be joking.” “Well, £1,100 and that’s my limit.” “ £1,900 ” … “£1,300” … “ £1,700 ” ... “£1,500” … “Done!”

Both parties need good assertiveness skills to be able to barter or haggle effectively.

While this form of bargaining may be acceptable in the used car market, and even expected in some cultures, for most situations it has drawbacks. These drawbacks can have serious consequences if applied to social situations.

For example, win-lose negotiation:

May serve to turn the negotiation into a conflict situation , and can serve to damage any possible long-term relationship.

Is essentially dishonest – both sides try to hide their real views and mislead the other.

Reaches a compromise solution which may not have be the best possible outcome – there may have been some other agreement that was not thought of at the time - an outcome that was both possible and would have better served both parties.

Agreement is less likely to be reached as each side has made a public commitment to a particular position and feels they must defend it, even though they know it to be an extreme position originally.

While there are times when bargaining is an appropriate means of reaching an agreement, such as when buying a used car, generally a more sensitive approach is preferable. 

Negotiation concerning other people’s lives is perhaps best dealt with by using an approach which takes into account the effect of the outcome on thoughts, emotions and subsequent relationships. You may find our page on emotional intelligence helpful.

The Win-Win Approach to Negotiation

Many professional negotiators prefer to aim towards what is known as a Win-Win solution. This involves looking for resolutions that allow both sides to gain.

In other words, negotiators aim to work together towards finding a solution to their differences that results in both sides being satisfied.

Key points when aiming for a Win-Win outcome include:

  • Focus on maintaining the relationship - ‘separate the people from the problem’.
  • Focus on interests not positions.
  • Generate a variety of options that offer gains to both parties before deciding what to do.
  • Aim for the result to be based on an objective standard.

Focus on Maintaining the Relationship

This means not allowing the disagreement to damage the interpersonal relationship, not blaming the others for the problem and aiming to confront the problem not the people. This can involve actively supporting the other individuals while confronting the problem.

Separate the people from the problem

Disagreements and negotiations are rarely ‘one-offs’.  At times of disagreement, it is important to remember that you may well have to communicate with the same people in the future.  For this reason, it is always worth considering whether ‘winning’ the particular issue is more important than maintaining a good relationship.

All too often disagreement is treated as a personal affront.  Rejecting what an individual says or does is seen as rejection of the person. Because of this, many attempts to resolve differences degenerate into personal battles or power struggles with those involved getting angry, hurt or upset.

Remember negotiation is about finding an agreeable solution to a problem, not an excuse to undermine others , therefore, to avoid negotiation breaking down into argument, it is helpful to consciously separate the issues under dispute from the people involved.  For example, it is quite possible to hold people in deep regard, to like them, to respect their worth, their feelings, values and beliefs, and yet to disagree with the particular point they are making. One valuable approach is to continue to express positive regard for an individual, even when disagreeing with what he/she is saying.

The following are examples of statements that might be used by a good negotiator:

“ You’ve expressed your points very clearly and I can now appreciate your position. However... ” “ It’s clear that you are very concerned about this issue, as I am myself. Yet from my viewpoint... ”

Another way of avoiding personal confrontation is to avoid blaming the other party for creating the problem. It is better to talk in terms of the impact the problem is having personally, or on the organisation or situation, rather than pointing out any errors.

Instead of saying:

“You’re making me waste a lot of time by carrying on with this argument,”

the same point could be presented as,

“I’m not able to spend a lot of time on this problem, I wonder if there’s any way we could solve it quickly?”

By not allowing ‘disagreements over issues’ to become ‘disagreements between people’, a good relationship can be maintained, regardless of the outcome of the negotiation.

See our pages Mediation Skills , Conflict Resolution and Justice and Fairness for more information.

Focus on Interests Not Positions

Rather than focusing on the other side’s stated position, consider the underlying interests they might have. What are their needs, desires and fears?  These might not always be obvious from what they say. When negotiating, individuals often appear to be holding on to one or two points from which they will not move.

For example, in a work situation an employee might say “I am not getting enough support” while the employer believes that the person is getting as much support as they can offer and more than others in the same position. However, the employee's underlying interest might be that he or she would like more friends or someone to talk to more often. By focusing on the interests rather than the positions, a solution might be that the employer refers the employee to a befriending organisation so that his or her needs can be met.

Focusing on interests is helpful because:

  • It takes into account individual needs, wants, worries and emotions.
  • There are often a number of ways of satisfying interests, whereas positions tend to focus on only one solution.
  • While positions are often opposed, individuals may still have common interests on which they can build.

Most people have an underlying need to feel good about themselves and will strongly resist any attempt at negotiation that might damage their self-esteem.

Often their need to maintain feelings of self-worth is more important than the particular point of disagreement.  Therefore, in many cases, the aim will be to find some way of enabling both sides to feel good about themselves, while at the same time not losing sight of the goals.

If individuals fear their self-esteem is at risk, or that others will think less highly of them following negotiation, they are likely to become stubborn and refuse to move from their stated position, or become hostile and offended and leave the discussion.

See our page: Improving Self-Esteem for more background.

Understanding the emotional needs of others is an essential part of understanding their overall perspective and underlying interests.  In addition to understanding others’ emotional needs, understanding of your own emotional needs are equally important.  It can be helpful to discuss how everyone involved feels during negotiation. Learn more about Emotional Intelligence .

Another key point is that decisions should not be forced upon others. This is a negotiation. Both sides will feel much more committed to a decision if they feel it is something they have helped to create and that their ideas and suggestions have been taken into account. 

It is important to clearly express your own needs, desires, wants and fears so that others can also focus on your interests.

See our pages on Assertiveness for more information.

Generate a Variety of Options that Offer Gains to Both Sides

Rather than looking for one single way to resolve differences, it is worthwhile considering a number of options that could provide a resolution and then to work together to decide which is most suitable for both sides.

Techniques such as brainstorming could be used to generate different potential solutions. In many ways, negotiation can be seen as a problem solving exercise, although it is important to focus on all individuals’ underlying interests and not merely the basic difference in positions.

Good negotiators will spend time finding a number of ways of meeting the interests of both sides rather than meeting self-interest alone and then discussing the possible solutions.

Our pages: Decision Making and Problem Solving can help here.

Aim for the Result to be Based on an Objective Standard

Having identified and worked towards meeting shared interests, it is often inevitable that some differences will remain.

Rather than resorting to a confrontational bargaining approach, which may leave individuals feeling let-down or angry, it can be helpful to seek some fair, objective and independent means of resolving the differences. It is important that such a basis for deciding is:

  • Acceptable to both parties.
  • Independent to both parties.
  • Can be seen to be fair.

If no resolution can be reached, it may be possible to find some other, independent party whom both sides will trust to make a fair decision.

Other sources of help who might assist in situations which cannot be resolved include:

  • A mutual friend or colleague
  • A committee member
  • A trained mediator

Before turning for help from such sources however it is important to agree that this approach is acceptable to both sides.

Conflict Resolution and Mediation

Further Reading from Skills You Need

Conflict Resolution and Mediation

Learn more about how to effectively resolve conflict and mediate personal relationships at home, at work and socially.

Our eBooks are ideal for anyone who wants to learn about or develop their interpersonal skills and are full of easy-to-follow, practical information.

Continue to: Avoiding Misunderstanding in Negotiation Transactional Analysis

See also: Building Rapport Mediation Skills Assertiveness

Logo for Conflict Studies Books

The Win/Win Approach

Conflict Resolution Network


  • To consider types of behaviour we use to resolve conflict.
  • To understand the principles and the value of a win/win approach.

Session Times:

2 hours:  Sections A–E

1 hour:  Sections Abbreviated A–D

A. Stimulus Activity 1.2

B. How We Behave in Conflict 1.2

C. A Model for Understanding Behaviour in Conflict 1.3

D. The Principles of a Win/Win Approach 1.7

E. When Win/Win Seems Impossible 1.11

F. Concluding Comments 1.12


The Handshake Exercise A.1.1

The Arm Wrestling Exercise A.1.3

Section C: Behaviours in Conflict H.1.1

Fight, Flight, Flow: Some Behaviours H.1.2

Section E: When Win/Win Seems Impossible H.1.3

Key Features of the Win/Win Approach H.1.4

Wanting What’s Fair for Everyone

A. stimulus activity.

(10 minutes)

Choose one of the two activities below to highlight ways we frequently approach conflict.

The Handshake Exercise: participants aim to win as many points as they can by placing two hands on one person’s hip. (See The Win/Win Approach Activities.) (5 minutes)

The Arm Wrestling Exercise: participants make three wishes, one of which they are to regard as granted, each time the arms are down. (See The Win/Win Approach Activities.) (5 minutes)

B. How We Behave in Conflict

Question: When faced with a conflict, what are some of the specific ways we behave?

Discussion: Encourage participants to give examples.

Question: Are some of these behaviours more effective in dealing with conflict than others? In what ways?

Discussion: Draw out participants’ responses. In addition, you might consider:

  • some deal with the problem/others avoid it
  • some enhance relationships/others harm relationships
  • some solve the conflict/others increase it.

Question: Why do we behave in certain ways in conflict?

  • learnt patterns
  • variations with mood, seeing, relationship, significance of the conflict
  • belief system – for me to win, someone else must lose.

There are many behaviours that are appropriate for dealing with conflict. However, when we react from habit, it may mean we don’t make full use of this range of behaviours, nor do we always behave in the most appropriate way.

Throughout the course, we’re going to explore behaviours and tools that are very helpful in dealing with conflict, and consider ways to make choices about appropriate behaviours so that we can respond to conflict, rather than just react in a knee-jerk manner.

C. A Model for Understanding Behaviour in Conflict

(40 minutes)

Question: Who is familiar with the concept of ”Fight” and ”Flight” behaviours?

Question: What are some examples of ”Fight” behaviours?

Discussion: Draw out participants’ responses. You may give some examples:

  • physical violence
  • refusing to listen
  • manipulation

Question: What do you think are the main messages and intentions of ”Fight” behaviours?

  • ”I’m right/you’re wrong”
  • to blame and punish
  • to threaten
  • “I’m OK/You’re not”.

From participants’ responses, write on the board:

FIGHT I Win/You lose

Often, these are labelled as aggressive behaviours.

Add the word:

FIGHT I Win/ Aggressive

Question: What are some examples of ”Flight” behaviours?

  • pretending it hasn’t happened

Question: What do you think are the main messages and intentions of ”Flight” behaviours?

  • ”I’m wrong/You’re right”
  • To avoid conflict
  • To maintain peace
  • To let the other person win
  • ”I’m not OK/You are”.

FLIGHT I lose/

Often these are labelled as passive behaviours. The ”You” person may win or sometimes lose, but the “I” person always loses.

F L IGHT I lose / Passive

Let’s now consider a different set of behaviours, neither “Fight” nor “Flight”. Let’s call them “Flow” behaviours.

Question: What might be some examples of “Flow” behaviours?

  • discussing the issue
  • listening to others
  • taking time-out
  • explaining own perspective and needs
  • compromising.*

* If participants raise ”compromising” or any other behaviour which doesn’t seem to be fully a ”flow” behaviour, comment that this is a behaviour which you’d like to consider more closely later after they’ve completed the handout: ”Behaviours in Conflict” .

Question: What do you think are the main messages and intentions of ”Flow” behaviours?

Discussion: Draw out participants’ responses. In addition, you might explore:

  • “There must be a way to solve this”
  • to sort out the problem
  • to respect others
  • to make sure everyone is satisfied with the solution
  • “I’m OK/you’re OK”.

FLOW I win/

Often these are labelled as “assertive” behaviours.

FLOW I win/ Assertive

Group Activity: Behaviours in Conflict: working in small groups participants identify behaviours which fit into ”fight”, “flight” and “flow” categories (see below for details.) (15 minutes)

Give out the handout: ”Behaviours in Conflict ”. Divide into small groups of three or four participants.

In your small groups, consider three or four behaviours which fit into each of these categories, and then complete the columns across the page. You may include behaviours we’ve already identified or consider others which have personal significance for you.

Allow 10 minutes and move amongst the groups to assist them when necessary.

Draw participants together into the large group.

Question: Did any behaviours appear in more than one category? In what ways are they different in each category?

Discussion: From the responses, comment:

A particular behaviour might appear in more than one category. To decide whether that behaviour is aggressive, passive or assertive, we need to understand the context, the relationship of the participants, the culture, what’s gone before, and what comes after.

For example, withdrawal:

  • We could withdraw with the intention of punishing the other person or to ignore his/her needs and concerns. In this case, it is probably a ”fight” behaviour.
  • We could withdraw to avoid the conflict and just keep the peace. If we did that, and felt unhappy or taken advantage of, it is probably a ”flight” behaviour.
  • We could withdraw because we want time to consider an appropriate action. We may later return to deal directly with the issue, or we may decide to attend instead to the broader issues, to the more fundamental needs, and to the relationship. In this case, it’s probably a “flow” behaviour.

Question: Did you notice any patterns for each of the categories on how people are treated in the conflict and how the issue is dealt with (i.e. the two columns on the right hand side of the handout)?

Discussion: From participants’ responses, suggest that:

During “fight” behaviour the intention which may be unconscious, is to come down hard on the issue, with little concern for the person.

To the chart you developed earlier,

Add the words:

FIGH T I win/ Aggressive Hard on the people/

You lose Hard on the issue

In ”flight” behaviour the intention, which may be unconscious, is to protect ourselves rather than deal with the problem. By not confronting, the immediate result is relatively soft on the person.

F L IGH T I lose / Pass ive Soft/hard on the people

You win Hard on the issue

During “flow” behaviour, the intention is to solve the issue whilst respecting everyone in the conflict.

F LOW I win / Asserti ve Soft on the people

Although, “flow” behaviours seem to have the best outcomes, we often resort to ”fight” and ”flight” behaviours. And, indeed, they are unlikely to be dismissed completely from our repertoire. However, all the conflict resolution skills covered in this course can be used as part of a ”flow” or win/win approach.

Give out the handouts: “Fight , Flight, Flow: Some B ehaviours “ .

D. The Principles of a Win/Win Approach

(30 minutes)

Let’s explore what a win/win approach is about, by listening to a story.

There are two sisters in a kitchen and only one orange. Both of them want the orange. What could they do?

When someone says compromise or ”cut it in half”, continue the story.

That’s what they did. One sister went to the juicer and started to squeeze herself a drink which turned out too small to satisfy.

She then threw out the rind. The other sister, with some difficulty, began to grate the rind of her half of the orange to flavour a cake. She then threw out the juicy pulp.

They both had only half an orange when, in effect, they could have had the whole orange.

Question: What could they have done in order for both of them to have the whole orange?

  • found out what each other wanted/needed.

The key to a win/win approach is to explore needs before settling on a solution.

Write on the board:

Win/Win Approach

Needs First

Solutions Later

In the orange story, the sisters compromised.

Question: Compromise is sometimes considered the same as a Win/Win approach. What is compromise about? Why do we so frequently compromise? What are its advantages?

  • It may seem the simplest, easiest and fairest thing to do.
  • It means that when we can’t make a bigger pie, at least, everyone is sharing in what is available.
  • It results in both parties having some of their needs met.

Question: What are some of the disadvantages of compromise?

  • It often requires one party to give more and then they will be less committed to the solution.
  • It may mean that the potential of all options hasn’t been explored.
  • It may breed resentment within the relationship.
  • It has been described as an acceptable form of lose/lose. (Both people lose an equal amount.)

Although compromise has disadvantages, it is sometimes a valuable approach. However, if we settle too quickly for compromise, we can sell ourselves short. It may be that we decide on a poorer quality solution than we would have if we had adopted a win/win approach.

Extension: (Optional) Present the graph overleaf (p1.10) to expand on this. Draw it piece by piece, explaining it as you go. (See the explanation below the graph for details.)

Chart with 2 dimensions - own needs, others needs

The horizontal axis represents how much of others’ needs are being met.

If we’re entirely concerned with our own needs and ignore or avoid others’ needs then we’ve adopted an “I Win/You Lose” approach. (Make a mark at the top of the vertical axis and write the words: Fight: “Win/Lose”.)

If we give in to other people and ignore our own needs, then we’re adopting an “I lose/You win” approach . (Make a mark at the end of the horizontal axis and write the words: Flight: Lose/Win.) Sometimes Flight also results in both parties losing. (Make a mark at the junction of the vertical and horizontal axes and write the words Flight: Lose/Lose.)

Compromise is like a half-way point between the two. lt takes account of some needs of both parties. Each party gets something of a win, and also a significant loss. (Make the “compromise” in the centre and join with dotted lines to the medical and horizontal axes – see graph. In another colour draw over the pads of the vertical and horizontal axes which go as far as these dotted lines. See Figure A. here.)

Grids Illustrating Compromise

Win/win takes account of many more needs. It’s much more expansive. ( Make the Win/Win on the top right hand corner of the page, and join with dotted lines to the vertical and horizontal axes – see graph. In a different colour draw over the whole of the vertical and horizontal axes, right out to these new dotted lines. See Figure B. above. )

A win/win approach starts by looking for solutions that meet all needs (point to the market Win/Win) and moves backwards, gradually and only as far as necessary, towards compromise, to come up with a solution that meets as many needs as possible. ( Draw attention to how much more of the axes are now covered by the win/win. Draw in the diagonal arrow to show the gradual movement ‘backwards”. ) lt’s far more likely to be a good quality solution than that chosen from a quick compromise.

A Win/Win Outcome:

  • would occur somewhere along, or near, the diagonal arrow, preferably close to the top.
  • will not always happen. Sometimes, an outcome will be chosen which meets few needs or favours one person more than another, particularly if some participants are unwilling to negotiate.

A win/win approach is always an option.

Question: What do you think are the basic principles of a win/win approach?

  • considering not only what I want but also what the other person wants
  • raising the degree of concern for my own and others’ needs
  • being concerned with what’s fair
  • respecting relationships
  • requiring us to believe that for me to win it is not necessary for someone else to lose
  • moving towards a solution that includes as many needs as possible
  • consulting with others to explore needs and to consider all possible options. This increases the likelihood of reaching a solution which addresses more of everyone’s needs and to which everyone will be more committed. Giving and taking, when we know we have been heard and considered, feels very different to compromising immediately.

Question: Why use a win/win approach? What are the benefits?

  • increases productivity
  • encourages creativity in people
  • results in good quality solutions
  • elicits commitment from people
  • focuses people’s energy and attention on solving problems rather than fighting with each other.

E. When Win/Win Seems Impossible

It can be valuable, although not essential, to leave time (e.g. a day or a week) between doing section D and Section E. This gives participants a chance to absorb the material from Section D. As well it is possible to ask them to think about situations for which win/win seems impossible, to be discussed at the next session.

Question: Think of a conflict for which a win/win approach doesn’t seem to be possible. What is it?

List participants’ responses on the board. (Have a few sample situations that you can add to the list.) e.g.

  • two applicants for one job
  • a student who has worked hard but has not done sufficiently well to be awarded a pass
  • two family functions on at the same time: one in the city, one in the country.

Group Activity: When Win/Win Seems Impossible: participants work in pairs or small groups of three , to consider two difficult conflicts. (See below for details) (20 minutes)

Question: Does win/win still seem impossible? What do you think can be done with these difficult situations?

Discussion: Encourage participants to share strategies they’ve considered so far.

Give out the handout: ”Key Features of The Win/Win Approach” . Highlight points that may be particularly appropriate for participants’ difficult situations.

Ask participants to consider again the situations they’ve identified on the handout.

Are some of these points (i.e. those on the handout: ”Key Features of The Win/Win Approach” ) relevant for developing a win/win in your situation?

Allow 10 minutes.

Discussion: Ask participants to share any points which they found particularly helpful.

F. Concluding Comments

Different types of behaviour are appropriate in different situations. Mostly, we will be very practised in using two or three behaviours, and may feel less comfortable with the others. The more flexible we can become, the more choices we have about how we relate to others, and the more opportunities we have to resolve conflict.

For the win/win approach to become our first choice, we need to develop new skills. We need to learn to step back from solutions, to considerate need or concern driving each person to particular outcomes.

A win/win approach is not the same as a win/win outcome. It is the approach that’s the key. Ask yourself:

  • How has the solution been generated?
  • Have all needs been considered, all options been explored and the solution been chosen which meets more major needs than any other?
  • Have the relevant parties participated in the process?

The Win/Win Approach Activities

The Handshake Exercise

Instructions: Give no background concepts before playing the game.

We’re going to do an exercise to get us started.

Ask each participant to choose a partner roughly the same size as him or herself. Then ask for a volunteer to demonstrate with the trainer.

The trainer and the volunteer stand facing each other and take a handshake hold.

The aim of this exercise is to win as many points as you can.

You score a point every time you get the other person’s hand to your hip.

The trainer and a volunteer demonstrate what “getting the other person’s hand to your hip” means but do not engage in a struggle in front of the group. The exercise is set up in as neutral a way as possible, so that people will project onto the instructions their natural inclination.

Hand to Hip Illustration

Be sure to keep count of your points.

Ready? Begin.

(If participants ask questions, simply repeat the instructions and encourage them to keep count of their points.)

Allow between 30 seconds and 1 minute.

Discussion: What we’re going to do is to explore the differences in the number of points people achieved, and how they did it.

  • Who scored more than 50? Less than 10? How did you do it?
  • How did you interpret ”you” in the instructions – as an individual, a pair, a group?
  • Did the idea of “winning” imply ”losing” as well? For someone to win, did another have to lose?
  • Who discussed it with their partner? What was discussed? Who changed strategy during the exercise? Why?

When we’re in conflict with someone else, do we frequently approach it thinking that one person will win and the other will lose? (e.g. I told him; I put her in her place; I showed him who was boss; I didn’t let her get the better of me; I got my way; I always lose out in these sorts of problems.)

In conflict, are there times when we use the same approach as we did in the exercise? Are there other occasions when we use a different approach?

Important Points to Cover:

ln an exercise such as this, it is possible to interpret ”win” in a variety of ways, and to behave accordingly.

Problems arise when we transfer a concept of ”winning over” – to situations where ”winning with” – would be more beneficial. ”Winning over” is about one person winning while the other loses. ”Winning with” is about co-operating so that both people obtain what they want or need.

As well, we frequently behave in certain ways out of habit, rather than from choice. This means that we lose flexibility in our approach to conflict.

The Arm Wrestling Exercise

Have the group choose partners, and sit opposite each other with about an inch between the knees, or across a small table, if available.

Ask participants to think of three things that they really want e.g. a job promotion, an overseas holiday, a new car. They don’t have to share this information with their partners.

The object of the exercise is to have all your wishes granted.

When Partner A gets Partner B’s hand down to the level of B’s knee (or table, if used) Partner A has one wish granted and vice versa.

The trainer demonstrates how to do this by assuming an arm wrestle position. The exercise is set up in as neutral a way as possible, so that people will project onto the instructions their natural inclination. Therefore, do not describe verbally the arm wrestle position or label it as such, or enter into a mock struggle while demonstrating.

Position of Arms

Ask participants to take hold of their partners’ hands, as demonstrated.

Ready? …Begin.

(If participants ask questions, simply repeat the instruction, and encourage them to start.)

Allow 30 seconds–1 minute.

Discussion: Who had all their wishes granted?

  • How many of you, upon hearing the instructions ”have all your wishes granted” thought there had to be a winner and a loser, that it was a competition?
  • Who discussed it with their partner? What was discussed?
  • Who changed strategy during the exercise? Why?

When we’re in a conflict with someone else, do we frequently approach it thinking one person will win and the other will lose? (e.g. I told him; I put her in her place; I showed him who was boss; I didn’t let her get the better of me; I got my way; I always lose out in these sorts of problems.)

In an exercise such as this it is possible to interpret ”win” in a variety of ways, and to behave accordingly.

Problems arise when we transfer a concept of ”winning over” to situations where ”winning with” would be more beneficial. As well, we frequently behave in certain ways from habit rather than from choice. This means that we lose flexibility in our approach to conflict.

Behaviours in Conflict

Fight, flight, flow: some behaviours, when win/win seems impossible.

Sometimes a win/win outcome seems impossible. However, applying a win/win approach explores the possibilities in the situation. It may result in unexpected outcomes.

Key Features of the Win/Win Approach



Conflict Resolution Trainers' Manual - 12 Skills by Conflict Resolution Network is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.


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  1. Negotiation in Action: Win-Win and Win …

    (10 minutes) Choose one of the two activities below to highlight ways we frequently approach conflict. The Handshake Exercise: participants aim to win as many points as they can by placing two hands on one person’s hip. (See The Win/Win Approach Activities.)(5 minutes) The Arm Wrestling Exercise: participants …