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What Is Sustainable Negotiation?

sustainable negotiation

What is meant by the “completion” of a negotiation? Is it when the deal is signed? And how do you maintain the relationship once your negotiation is complete? Eliane Karsaklian has developed the concept of building sustainable relationships, which she calls “sustainable negotiation.”

What is a sustainable negotiation?

Eliane based sustainable negotiation on the laws of physics. She’s learned that most decisions that are made in negotiations are short-term. Short-term thinking is becoming problematic. Companies make short-term decisions that they think will last—and that just doesn’t happen. You can’t expect more when you are giving less.

No one takes time to prepare their negotiations and understand what’s expected of them and their future partners. Sustainable negotiation is about analyzing the markets and your potential partners and identifying those with whom you can have long-term relationships.

How to think strategically about the future

Eliane likes to say that the future isn’t the destination but simply the consequence of what you do today. It’s the result of the present. She recommends picking partners with a shared vision of where they want to be in the future. They must also define what the future means in terms of years and accomplishments. It’s about the mission and vision of the company.

Create short-term milestones that feed the vision

Chinese are long-term thinkers; North Americans are not. Chinese think about what results their actions will have in 20–30 years. Yet here, we focus on quarterly results. Eliane points out that the sustainability of your company is your strategic vision. You simply create milestones to get there, which are your short-term objectives. The Chinese know how to employ this strategy.

For your company to survive, you need to be profitable. You can’t just focus on closing a deal and “see how it goes” afterward. If you do that, you’ll start over repeatedly. You’ll waste a lot of money, time, and effort. But if you cultivate long-term partnerships with a shared vision, your short-term accomplishments and results will be an outcome of your long-term strategy.

What happens after you close the deal?

Every theory of negotiation takes you to the deal. It’s believed that the negotiation is over once you sign the deal. But Eliane believes you need to collaborate during your negotiation—because a deal is just a piece of paper.

Real life starts when you enforce your contract. You have to operate together once the deal is signed. And it’s never easy working together when you’re from different cultures with different business practices.

When you look at mergers and acquisitions, most dissolve after six months. Why? When they need to work and operate together, they realize their contract wasn’t well-prepared to be successful.

How to develop a long-term relationship

So how do you develop a long-term relationship, starting with sustainable negotiation?

You have to understand that negotiation is a process. If you want to make it easier, do the legwork. Prepare for your negotiation by analyzing the market and the culture. Identify the partners you want a long-term relationship with. Then you negotiate with them.

Once you have a deal, you must nurture the relationship. Make sure that while you’re negotiating, you’re envisioning what happens next. What will your life together look like? If you can daydream about life after marriage, you can dream about what life will look like with companies.

Eliane shares more about intercultural negotiations and the impact of building long-term relationships in episode #325 of Negotiations Ninja. Don’t miss it!