April 2023

Shifting your perspective to achieve more collaborative negotiations

by Rodrigo Malandre

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Shifting your perspective to achieve more collaborative negotiations

April 2023 by Rodrigo Malandre

Back to Insights


Have you ever thought you were more collaborative than the other party during a negotiation? It turns out, we tend to overestimate our collaboration skills and misinterpret the competitiveness of the other party. In this article, we discuss the biases that lead to this illusion, the importance of understanding interests over positions, and provides suggestions for increasing collaboration in negotiations.

Recently, I conducted a survey on LinkedIn consisting of a single question, "In the negotiations you have, who usually has a more collaborative attitude?" The response options were: "me" or "the other party." Can you guess what the majority answered?

I have made similar versions of the same question in sales or purchasing conventions and corporate events where I have been invited to speak, and the distribution of the answers is always very similar (around 80% for oneself as more collaborative). In this case, 90% responded that they were more collaborative than the other party.

If 80% or more always think the other party has a more competitive attitude, something is not right, since a normal distribution of the answers among negotiating people should be 50/50. Either I am only invited by companies with collaborative negotiation cultures, or people tend to overestimate how collaborative they are and perceive their counterparts as more competitive than they really are. I bet on the latter. In fact, I am sure the explanation goes in that direction.

So, here's the first reality check: your interpretation of how collaborative you are and how competitive your counterpart is, is likely an illusion (at least in most cases).

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Rodrigo Malandre