Last Update: 6/6/04

Woodstock Institute for Negotiation

Woodstock, Vermont

World Wide Trainer of Negotiators, Collaborators, Managers, Leaders and Mediators
Mediation Services for complex, multi-party and important conflicts

"Everything can and should be negotiated, if not now, then later."

WIN's Philosophy

WIN’s Philosophy on Collaboration and Negotiation

WIN’s Collaboration and Negotiation Philosophy recognizes that most of us fail to think about how we go about dealing with conflict in our lives. We are "trained" by society and that training becomes part of our learned behavior, tucked away in our subconscious but alive and well as we face different conflicts in our lives.

We also forget that our most important negotiation is the daily continual negotiation we do with ourselves as we make decisions as to what we will do or not do, what is good, bad or indifferent, how we are with others, and how we will interact with others. These negotiations with ourselves take place in both the subconscious and the conscious level and affect all that we do and all we are in this world. How we go about this process is usually not carefully considered, if at all. The WIN training experience results in the participants knowing themselves better and becoming equipped with knowledge, skills and tools to go about that process in a manner which is best for them.

The WIN training starts with three basic premises:

  1. Conflict is inevitable and unavoidable. We are confronted daily with conflicts which need to be resolved, forcing us to negotiate with ourselves as we make decisions. Beyond ourselves, there is conflict with each person we come in contact with because we are each distinct and different from all others. Those differences guarantee there will always be conflicts between any two individuals.

  2. Conflict can be managed in a positive and effective manner to turn all of our inevitable conflicts into opportunities for growth and improvement. If conflict is not managed, it escalates and easily becomes a disaster all by itself.

  3. Our individual conflict behavior varies with each incident, the level of the conflict and the context of the conflict. In fact, however, we can choose one consistent conflict behavior style, collaboration, as we negotiate with ourselves, with other individuals, within groups or teams and one group against another and in all contexts. One can be consistently collaborative without being weak or non-assertive; can produce a high level of satisfaction for all concerned with the conflict, including ourselves, while improving our relationships with others.

Our society, on the other hand, has very effectively "trained" us to be competitive in order to always "win". While this may be appropriate in sports, between business competitors, and between persons running for political office, it is destructive of our relationships with others and usually leads to escalation of the conflict, sometimes to the point of the conflict taking on a life of its own as it spins into greater and greater loss of control.

WIN’s Collaborative WIN Process (See Diagram on bottom of  page) is the basis for all topics covered. It starts with a respect for others and their values, beliefs and interests as well as a firm understanding of one’s own underlying interests, the driving, motivating factors relating to the conflict which must be satisfied to an acceptable level in order to resolve the conflict, rather than merely settle it.

The relationship is paramount and needs to be worked on initially and throughout every negotiating process: building rapport, creating a true dialogue and exchange of information, gaining understanding of the other person, educating others about who we are, building the level of trust. Without trust, there is no relationship. Without a good relationship, you almost always have escalation of the conflict. Emphasis is placed upon understanding others, not necessarily agreeing with them, but accepting them for who they are.

What differentiates WIN’s Collaborative WIN Process is that the Collaborative person also gains an understanding of the interests and values of the other person, accepts them and is respectful of them, and attempts to satisfy them to an acceptable level for the other person while not losing sight of the importance of their own interests and achieving an acceptable level of satisfaction of their own interests.

The differentiation between interests and issues is difficult for most, but it is one of the key ingredients of WIN’s Collaboration and Negotiation training. Interests, like values, are a reflection of who people are and are not negotiable. While there are always conflicting interests between parties, there are also common interests which all can work for, simultaneously satisfying themselves and the other party, and divergent interests which can be integrated with each other. Issues are the real, tangible, measurable things we can and do negotiate. WIN’s Collaborative WIN Process recognizes that issues are merely means to satisfy differing interests and that the more issues on the table, the better one is able to come up with a package which is acceptable to all. Being able to differentiate between interests and issues allows one to know what is negotiable and what is not negotiable.

While it may appear that WIN’s Collaborative approach takes longer than the traditional method, in fact, the Collaborative approach takes less time when you consider the reality of how long a competitive approach takes to reach a settlement. When one negotiates collaboratively with others, the next negotiation we have with them, or the negotiation which may arise to resolve unforeseen problems of the agreement reached, builds upon the positive feelings of the previous collaborative approach to reach a quicker and more amicable resolution.

Empowerment of one’s self and others is a key part of WIN’s Collaborative WIN Process, giving a sense of ownership to each person in the negotiation. Power is important, but learning how to use power in a positive manner is more important than any power we have. This is the only way to build relationships, especially when the level of power is different.

Setting and maintaining a positive tone and frame in all we say can be one of the fastest ways to improve relationships and move toward agreement on a resolution. It also has a substantial influence on all associated with the conflict, leading people to work on reaching a fair and equitable resolution.

WIN’s Ideal Collaborative Model gives the participants a road map to follow in all negotiations. The Training recognizes that most people with whom we negotiate will want to use the traditional positional negotiation style, the "Dance", and that one needs to allow others to use this style to reach an agreement. The WIN training gives you an understanding of the mechanics of this process, teaches you how to plan for the "dance" and how to predict the outcome, and gives you with WIN’s Ideal Collaborative Model a road map to follow to make the process amicable and efficient. Participants learn that they can "dance" with them, teaching them some new steps to make the outcome better for themselves and for the other party.

The most important aspect of the WIN training is that it helps people to understand themselves and their values as they relate to how they address conflict in their lives. It gives a substantial knowledge base upon which the participants are able to build their own plan for their future which is based upon their values and attitude toward conflict. Most end up seeing each conflict they encounter as a positive opportunity for growth and opportunity. Each participant is empowered with the three different Planning Grids to help them to properly prepare for their negotiations and collaborations they will be facing.

Finally, the WIN Training expands the Collaborative WIN Process into Collaborative Communication skills to create a true dialog with others, Collaborative Teamwork to give ownership and a sense of equity into team decisions and efforts, Collaborative Teamwork to be able to reach true consensus, Collaborative Management and Leadership to produce motivated and loyal staffs, and Collaborative Ethical considerations to achieve openness, honesty and trust. It is all encompassing, leading some to say it is a way of life.


Woodstock Institute for Negotiation
Pomfret Stage Road - Drawer 29
Woodstock, Vermont  05091-0029
United States of America
Toll Free in USA & Canada:  800-457-3211
Telephone:  802-457-3211
Fax:  802-457-1501
e-mail address:  BobODonnell@woodstockinstitute.com

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