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Integrative Negotiations: It's Never a Zero-Sum Game

When I created a service offering for Integrative Negotiations, I wanted to offer a way to support clients in their endeavors to maximum outcomes in their business dealings. Particularly, I wanted to guide clients through contracting processes that would not only mitigate risks in the event that things didn’t go as contemplated but also provide enough definitiveness that it left very little room for interpretation. In gist, I wanted to have an offering where parties could clearly capture the intent of their objectives in doing business. That means aligning on scope with as much specificity as possible, defining roles and responsibilities, creating a reliance on assumptions and dependencies, clearly laying out terms and conditions for payment (and penalties, where applicable), and determining how to structure termination to be in the best interest of both parties (an undesired but necessary aspect to consider on the front end). These are just some of the key things to consider when you’re ready to memorialize your negotiations in a contract. However, before you even think about sitting down at the negotiations table, it’s important to understand the interests of all the parties. Otherwise, negotiations will likely stall because the parties will be more wedded to their going in positions rather than focused on the value they’re seeking from the outcomes of the deal.

Yesterday, I concluded a 2-month long, grueling negotiations consultation whereby risks and rewards were high for all parties; in addition, significant levels of trust and dedicated investments were critical to the success of the deal. Before I got involved, this negotiation had already been underway for 4 months. I was unsettled about how much had not been made clear on the front end after one-third of a year had been spent trying to close the deal. Relatively simple things were absent like getting to a meeting of the minds on the guiding principles for the type of pricing construct that had been structured. It was highly complex and as I said above, the deal came with very high risks that were balanced by very high rewards if successfully executed. Trust among the parties was a critical success factor.

Long story short - when I came in, I did a crash course on guiding principles. It was out of turn because multiple iterations of the draft contract had already been floated. However, there was a huge disconnect on the parties’ interests. So, all those drafts were in a vicious loop of redlining terms and putting the same terms back in the document again. I also gave the client some straight talk and made it clear that the parties were setting themselves up for a disaster – and yes, I used that exact word, “disaster”. I explained that trust was not evident and without it, this deal did not need to happen. When the parties met up the next day, they huddled among themselves, sans me, and came back late that evening to say they were ready to move forward. We went through 2 more iterations and 3 calls to confirm everyone’s understanding of where we’d landed in the terms and conditions of the agreement, particularly around payments. And voila, the parties agreed that they were ready to execute and get started on the work immediately. Everybody’s interests were satisfied. That’s what success looks like in Integrative Negotiations.

Contact TULIP Advisory Professionals LLC if you need support with getting your deals over the finish line. We’ve got an experienced negotiator ready to help you. Email us at for more information. Go for the win-win with an Integrative Negotiations strategy because anything else would be uncivilized.

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