Thursday 28 May 2015

Think "Win-Win" my foot!

As both a snake-oil salesman and purchaser, I've been at the table of negotiations more times than the average person sitting in the Comfort Delgro bus has assembled an IKEA furniture!

Don't you believe a single word when you hear "Win-Win".

We will only reach across the table with our hand and utter "Win-Win" when we are confident:

1) We have the lion share of the benefits from this deal.

2) We are negotiating from a position of strength.

3) We are stealing our counter-party's lunch.

Pause and think for a while. Who first came up with this concept of "Win-Win"?

Cannot be from a loser right?

OK, most of us are not in sales or purchasing. So how do we verify?

Remember we have one important negotiation every year? Salary talks anyone?

When was the last time you offered your boss a "Win-Win" proposal?

It's mostly the other way round right?

If you had "Win-Win" said to your face during the salary talk, do you walk out of the meeting room with hands pumping to the sky and wishing to hug everyone in sight? 

Or do you walk out hating yourself a little bit for not being more forthright in how you really feel during the salary talk?

What? There's no negotiation? You were just told what you would get. No discussion; no nothing.

Well, at least you know how your boss sees you. Especially if he/she does not even feel the need to make you feel you have "won"....

This post is not about being cynical. 

It's about those catchy one-liners or phrases that many of us throw around. Very often they sound meaningful and quite logical. 

But when you think about it from another angle, the "truth" is another matter altogether.


  1. Give me $10,000 for an investment for 10% yield. I give you back $1K in three time month time. Win-win!

    1. CW,

      And that's how these "fishermen" reel their catch in....

      Not only that, these "fishermen" are always known to be very "generous" - and nothing is more "generous" than helping others get rich!

  2. Hi SMOL,

    I have negotiations with parents all the time. Because of the regularity of my business, it's not always wise to take the lion's share all the time. If you value relationships and want people to refer to you in the future, then it's silly to forgo future's money and take what you can today. Leave some on the table for others. And more importantly, let them know that you had left some for them too.

    To me, it's not always about winning this battle. It's about winning the war. So it's perfectly alright to lose this small battle to secure a longer term win in the war. Unless you want to have nothing to do with the person anymore, and want to terminate the relationship, then go all out.

    I learnt quite a few tricks from this book called Thick Face, Black heart ( ;)

    I understand how I would naturally react in any negotiations. I tend to think for the others. I would reverse the situation and see if I can accept the terms offered by myself. If I couldn't I wouldn't want others to do it too. But I also realised not everyone think like that. So the book for me is more about how to have a slightly 'blacker' heart. It's used to cover my shortfall haha

    1. LP,

      That's next level stuffs - letting your counter-party "thinks" he got a better deal.

      You know the art of fishing well - 放长线,钓大鱼。

      I remember I cringed when I first read Chin-Ning Chu's book. Shit! This lady has revealed what we snake-oil have been practicing all along...

      Hey! For someone not working in Corporate, you sure read a lot about how to get ahead in the Corporate world!


    2. Hi SMOL,

      Corporate pple are all around me, so it pays to know more about them than free lancers like me :) Anyway, I am always interested in the art of persuasion/motivation. It'll bring my craft to the next level. After you acquired knowledge of what to teach, it's all about the 'how' of teaching now. And a big part of the ans can be found in motivation and persuasion techniques, including negotiation :)

      Everyone should read that! :)

    3. LP,

      "Everyone should read that!" this is low level sales tactic...

      If you've said, "Don't read this book, it will lead you astray..." Now that's next level stuffs!

      The moment parents realise you don't accept anyone and everyone as student, the higher the fees you can charge ;)

      The more times we say "yes" in our corporate job, the less pay and promotional opportunities will come to us. Those who know when to say "no" are the ones others marvel, "Why he so lucky again!?"

      I better stop least someone suggest schools "should" teach students how to more corporate savvy...


    4. SMOL,

      Agree. Saying no can be very very attractive to pple. Wise lessons to be learn here :)

  3. everyone wants to be a winner
    so by saying win-win, you are making everyone happy
    thats all about it

    1. Jimmy,

      In a nutshell, yes.

      Keep wife happy.

      Keep mom happy.

      Keep customers happy.

      Keep boss happy.

      Keep the electorate happy.

      You happy, I happy. Everyone happy!!!


  4. There was this quote from a Korean drama where a girl told her ex bf that if you want to make everybody happy, you are being an asshole ;)

    1. Joyce,

      And that's why the wise man does not believe in: "You happy, I happy. Everyone happy" ALL at the SAME TIME ;)

      The smart husband will keep the wife happy today, and tomorrow hope to make mum happy!

      Ha ha!

    2. Everyone have their own agenda. Even when there is a consensus for a win-win, mostly it is due to "that's already the most, l am willing to give way".

      Most will cringe if someone whom you know is writing a biography and you are in it. The writer and those in the project team getting all the proceeds; whilst you are mentioned in the biography, will have all most intimate and darkest life secret being known to the whole wide world. When it is a bad one, it will be a total embarrassment to you and those in your life - sponsors start backing out, to a certain extent your marriage life will be affected, etc etc How is it a win-win?

      To salvage a win-win some go to the extent, "wayang" all the way! You will be found out soon and all start crashing down; leading to a lose-lose. Giving some ways will be very much needed to salvage a certain level of success; this is no longer an equal win-win.

      A win-win requires everyone to be on board. Say, when all these whiles you are thinking being on the same footing as all other members in a club but later realizing you are not being considered as one from the beginning, it's really a total feeling of dejection ---- a really half baked win-win.

    3. Money Honey,

      Your last paragraph can be most devastating to those who have tried to "fit-in" their whole lives only to realise they have been taken for fools all along...

      It's only "Win-Win" when we continue to provide wool and milk....

  5. Hi SMOL

    If there are no losers , then where comes the winner ?
    If there are no bad guys , then why need the good guys ?

    1. Small Time Investor,

      When people say "Win-Win' or "It's for your own good", my internal alarm bells will be ringing overtime!

      害人之心不可有, 防人之心不可无。

      Your comment sounds like you are conscious of the zero-sum concept.

      That's super important to a trader! To an investor?

      That's a post for another day ;)

  6. Hi SMOL,

    Speaking from a salesperson point of view... it's always 'I win- you think you win'. I give in because I have already expected to give in and my huge profits are already accounted for. Oops... am I revealing too much? =P

    For salary negotiation, to get a real win, you will need a real job offer. It's the only way to get what you want. No wonder the job hopping culture, right?

    1. Jes,

      Just reveal a bit of cleavage can oredi!

      We must leave some to the imaginations of those who come after us ;)

      I average a new position every 3 years during my corporate days.

      We have a stronger hand when others approach us to join their teams ;)


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