Leading the way to Sustainable Negotiation

Guest post by Dr. Eliane Karsaklian
A sustainable negotiator is a
leader. S/He is fueled with challenges and novelty because they are curious and restless. Real
leaders believe that change should be disruptive rather than incremental.
Sustainable negotiation disrupts from all old negotiating techniques that have
been ruling negotiation teaching and practice since the 1980s.
What researchers call a paradigm is
the way we view the world. There are some guidelines and everyone sticks to
them. A paradigm shift is creating another view of the world, which will
replace the old one. It is very difficult to engage people in a paradigm shift
because of resistance to change. It requires switching to a new mentality and
admitting that what we have been practicing and preaching so far is no longer
appropriate. Sustainable negotiation invites to a paradigm shift.
To get to a paradigm shift, you
need to ask yourself the right questions or great questions as some researchers
like to say. People don’t do that often because they are scared at the
potential answers to their questions. And what if they show that I’ve been
wrong all this time? And what if they
show me another path to follow and I don’t feel able to take that path, and so
Social pressure and the status quo
created around what is obvious and shallow rule out forward-thinking people who
see far beyond than the average. Is it because they are more intelligent? Not
necessarily, but it is certainly because they are curious and dare contesting
the well-settled mediocre standards to look out for better options. These
people are discriminated and excluded from the mainstream system. This happened
to Galileo, to Copernicus and to many other people thanks to whom we are less
ignorant today. But in their time, they were persecuted although what they
discovered was accurate. Unlike Copernicus in 1543, Galileo, by using a
scientific method, showed evidence through empirical observation and
mathematical demonstration which was harder to contest. And yet, it was
contested. Copernicus and Galileo were leaders.
Sustainable negotiation invites to disrupt from
old paradigms because it opposes to the win/lose negotiation techniques. Winning
and losing views of negotiation rest on transactional relationships while
sustainable negotiation rests on transformational relationships. When you aim
at winning a negotiation you don’t think about the future. You make your
transaction, get your money and off you are once your transaction has been
completed. But when you are in a sustainable negotiation mode, you don’t think
about winning. You think about the future you are building. As you share a
vision of future with the people you negotiate with, you progressively and
constantly transform your relationship with them in order to suit the needs of
all parties and aim at a future together.
We are not talking about long term relationships
here. Long term has a term. We are talking about sustainability. In negotiating
terms, this means that you don’t envisage an end to your relationship which
will last until you and your partners decide that you no longer need to work
together and not because your contract has reached its term.
As a leader, you don’t want your leadership to
be ephemeral; you want it to last. You transform your relationship with your
followers in order to keep them willingly following you. People will willingly
follow you if they trust you and if they feel like you know where you are going
to and where you are taking them to. They recognize specific skills in you
which complete their own skills and this is why they follow you.
Same applies to negotiation. Sustainable
negotiators are leaders because they have a vision of future that termed
negotiators can’t have. They lead the way to better and more sustainable
outcomes to all those involved in the negotiation. That is how they become
persuasive and why other negotiating parties follow their lead.
Negotiators with a leader mindset also perform
better in international settings because they are driven by the challenge of
being out of their comfort zone.  These are the negotiators who path the
way to contemporary negotiation.  
If you want to be a leader in sustainable negotiation:
– Make sure that you share a common vision of future with the people you
are negotiating with. Ideas can change and they do change, but your deep and
shared vision of future should remain the same. 
This is the real bond with your partners.
– Understand that conflicting ideas and situations lead to tough decision
making, and sustainable negotiation is effective because it goes far beyond
ideas’ compatibility. It focuses on deep and shared goals for the future.
– Remember that the key concept of sustainable negotiation is that
negotiation is a process and as such it is a constant and never ending process.
Sustainable negotiation integrates all phases of the process including the
enforcement of the deal which, in fact, is the most delicate phase of the whole
– Keep in mind that parties collaborate while negotiating the deal they
want to sign, but they should cooperate once the deal will be enforced and when
all partners will need to get down to work together.
– Forget about winning. This is not a competition.
– Be curious, open-minded, and creative. There is a lot you still don’t
– Think that sustainable negotiation makes companies more profitable by
focusing on growth along with their partners. They face challenges and take
opportunities together. This means sharing risks and resources and securing a
sustainable position in their target markets. 

Eliane Karsaklian, Ph.D., is an unusual combination of big picture
thinker, academic and practical businessperson. She has lived and worked in a
number of countries during her career and mastered five languages, giving her
extensive knowledge and experience in negotiation techniques and intercultural
relationships. As an internationally known speaker and award-winning
researcher, Dr. Karsaklian is the Director of the trilingual Master Program in
International Negotiation at Sorbonne and is invited as speaker at a number of
universities around the world. She is currently visiting professor at the
University of Illinois at Chicago. Her more recent book – Sustainable
Negotiation. What Physics Can Teach Us About International Negotiation –
introduces a completely new perspective on international negotiation, providing
practical, field-tested examples, experiments and guidance to enable readers to
implement sustainable negotiation in the real world. The book borrows from the
field of physics to make the case that negotiators need to know what is not
visible so they can explain what is visible. For more, visit www.LinkedIn.com/in/ElianeKarsaklian
and www.ubi-orbi.com.