Negotiation Tip #3: The Art of No Deal and Learning to Compromise

Fatimah Gilliam Founder, and CEO The Azara Group

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By nature, negotiations involve compromise. It is rare that you will make it through a negotiation without having to forgo something that you want and yielding along the way. The sooner you get comfortable with the reality that there needs to be some give and take, the sooner you can reach a sustainable solution.

There has been much talk about negotiation styles and what leads to success; but being skillfully persuasive lies in understanding that negotiations require finesse, patience, and possibly relinquishing something that stings a little. Winner-take-all strategies often result in outcomes that burn relationships and kill deals in the final hour. In essence, ask yourself if you want to be the "Master of the Art of No Deal" by being obstinate.

Negotiation Styles Begin with Compromise and Collaboration - and Avoid Competition!

Here are some standard negotiation styles:

  • Win-Lose Style: This is where you pursue reaching your goals at the expense of other parties. It is more competitive in its approach and outlook, and the goal is a "victory."

  • Avoiding Style: This is when you avoid conflict altogether and shy away from having to engage in difficult discussions and negotiations.

  • Accommodating Style: This is where you may give in to the wishes of the other party by accommodating their wishes and demands.

  • Compromising Style: This often involves reaching an acceptable middle ground through give and take. Being more compromising is where each party gains and loses something.

  • Collaborating Style (Win-Win): This approach is based on a willingness to accept the other party's needs while also asserting your own.


  • There are various negotiation styles you can use during critical conversations, and you may even pivot and shift by using different approaches during the same negotiation, especially if discussions take place over a period of time. However, we recommend starting with being collaborative and open to compromise. More value can end up on the table if you throw some cookies toward the other side.

    If you begin conversations by being more competitive, then you foster an environment that feeds into competitive and Machiavellian responses to your moves and countermoves. You may end up in a competition in the end, but we advise against it as your starting point.

    You Can't Always Get What You Want: Manage Your Expectations & Negotiation Strategy

    We all like getting what we want, and everyone is selfish and narcissistic to some degree. However, when it comes to negotiating, we have to manage our expectations and accept compromise. Prepare for disappointment so you limit feelings of resentment and anger.

    By accepting that not getting everything you want is the nature of the game, you can shift your strategy toward thinking about what you are willing to give up. Before you start negotiating, know what compromises you can make and what your non-starters are.

    Ask yourself:

  • What concessions can you make?

  • What is less important to you but may matter to the other side?

  • What may hurt to give up, will appease the other side, but is not a deal-breaker for you?

  • There is a lot of truth to the old Chinese proverb that says "Make sure you leave some fat for the other side." When you include a compromise in your negotiation process and strategy, you can move closer to reaching sustainable deals that do not fall apart two days after you ink them.

    Stop Being Stubborn

    We often get in our own way. We let ego and emotions rule us. Why? Maybe we do it because we feel the need to stick it to the other side or just have some misplaced need to "win." Either way, if there is room to reach a deal and the other side is willing to negotiate in good faith, then do not allow any tendencies toward stubbornness to derail you.

    Get out of your own way. Stop being the blocker of your own success. While you may want to puff up your feathers like a peacock and exude power and strength, you may just be remaining firm for firm's sake. Remember this: foolishness is right next door to strength.

    Blowing Up the Deal = Being the Master of the Art of No Deal

    It is one thing to walk away from a deal because the terms are untenable and imprudent. If the proposal on the table will not work for your finances or derails your business, then that is a different matter. We are not advocating that you compromise to your detriment and financial peril. However, if the reason why you cannot close the deal is that of your own personal shortcomings and negotiation style, then you should accept that you are blowing up your own deal. Making the conscious or unconscious decision to remain closed to compromise is reckless. Why cut off your nose to spite your face? Accept that to grow the pie and expand the options of possibilities, you may need to welcome compromise into your negotiation strategy and style.

    If you cannot accept that making concessions is at the core of any negotiation, then do not be naïve about what you are doing. You are becoming the "Master of the Art of No Deal." Naïveté might be charming in children, but with adults it is just stupidity.

    This is the third article in a three-part series providing negotiation tips and advice - encouraging your professional and business success. The guidance in this series promotes your ability to skillfully get what you want, negotiate and influence, and navigate difficult conversations. Click here to read our first article on the importance of focusing on key priorities and here to read our second article on becoming hostile and using aggressive tactics in negotiations (i.e., "going nuclear").

    For priority-setting advice, check out the first article in this series.

    For advice on what to consider before opting for hostile negotiation tactics, check out the second article in this series.

    The Azara Group (TAG) is a consulting firm that promotes the development of leaders in an increasingly competitive and diverse marketplace - providing strategy consulting services and leadership training services to advance professional and life success. TAG leverages expertise in career strategy, diversity, negotiation skills, and business acumen to provide strategic advice and consulting services to help people and organizations get what they want, achieve their goals, and advance their business and career objectives. TAG also helps companies better attract, retain, and promote diverse talent, and develop robust diversity platforms and strategies to create a more inclusive workplace.

    The Azara Group welcomes your direct comments and feedback. We do not post comments to our site at this time, but we value hearing from our readers. We invite you to share your thoughts with us. You can contact us directly at info@theazaragroup.com.

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