How do you judge the effectiveness of a negotiation method?
By Vincent Reille & Michel Ghazal
Answering three essential questions in negotiation will help to answer them.
Firstly: Does it enable an agreement to be reached that costs less than the disagreement?
Every transaction has a cost. Before even starting to negotiate, the "reasoned negotiator" is encouraged to reflect and prepare a solution in case the negotiation fails. This is what we call Best Spare Parts Solution to a negotiated agreement: the MESORE. An agreement is acceptable if it costs less than the MESORE. Otherwise, if the cost of the agreement on the table is higher than the MESORE, it is in the negotiator's interest to make the negotiation fail. That's when we can say that the negotiation was a success. So, thanks to the MESORE tool of the "Mutual Gains Strategy" deployed for over 35 years at the European Negotiation Centre, negotiation, whether or not it leads to an agreement, will never again be a failure. Indeed, successful negotiation sometimes means failure.
The answer to this first question is: yes.
Secondly: Does it produce applicable agreements?
Here too, the answer is yes.
When it comes to an ongoing relationship, this method constantly encourages the parties to aim for the mutual satisfaction of interests rather than to win a victory. This considerably reduces the risk of an agreement being called into question once it has been signed. Indeed, one of the reasons why a particular party does not fully or partially respect the decisions and commitments made is when it leaves the negotiation with an unsatisfied interest.
Similarly, the method requires a very clear definition of Who does What, When and How. It is often this lack of clarity that leads to failure.
In the "Mutual Gains Strategy", the principle is to involve our counterpart early on in the development of the solution. The agreement is the result of co-production, even if only one party controls the process: the reasoned negotiator. Adherence to the agreement is thus strengthened because the other party will find it difficult to oppose a result that it has helped to create.
One of the principles of the "Mutual Gains Strategy" is to seek to overcome the problem and not the person. As a result, the result obtained is experienced as legitimate by all parties. This is because it has been generated not by forcing the other party to give in to our power, but by basing it on objective criteria beyond our control.
Third: Does it prepare the ground for future negotiations?
The "Reasoned Negotiator" ensures that no-one leaves the table feeling cheated. It is essential that the agreement is perceived, including by the negotiating environment, as fair and equitable. If the reasoned negotiator perceives any dissatisfaction, it is up to him not to rush into signing and to explore the causes. By ensuring that no resentment remains on the part of the other party, not only does he increase the likelihood that the agreement will be successfully implemented, but he also consolidates the relationship and makes it more capable of handling other transactions in the future. Remember, 90 % of our negotiations take place within the framework of an ongoing relationship.
So the answer to that question is yes, too.
If we answer yes to these three questions, the "Mutual Gains Strategy" is undeniably an effective and powerful approach to success. If, at the same time, we help our partners to satisfy their own interests, its effectiveness is enhanced.
What you have here is a grid for analysing the results of the negotiations that abound in the news. Apply it to a recent situation and you'll be surprised.