Win-Lose Negotiation


Win-win sits in contrast with win-lose. The two do not go together.

Who wins? I lose I win
He loses (failure) win-lose
He Wins win-lose win-win


Win-lose is essentially a set of techniques. Each is deployed depending on the local circumstances, and generally only 2 or 3 will come into play in any given negotiation.

Win-lose generally means the other party is out to win at your expense. For this reason, it isn't suitable for anything other than a one-shot transaction. That is, you should never expect to do business again.

Your Mission, if you choose to accept it...

That's the first clue. If you are in a serious discussion and the other side uses some win-lose technique, then you are being notified of the conditions that you will have to deal with in all future discussions. If the other guy is out to screw you, then your mission as a serious negotiator is to do the following.

  1. Detection. Detect the existence of the win-lose negotiator, and test his mettle in the game.

  2. Defence. Defend yourself against each of the techniques as they are employed.

  3. Strategic Withdrawal. Know when to make a strategic decision that you cannot do business under these conditions.

We don't teach how to employ win-lose here. You can pick that up in any book about real estate negotiation.

Instead, what we teach here is how to recognise, defend and cope with it. Especially, how to know when the techniques are so well employed, so forcefully used against you, that you cannot avoid their future consequences, and thus you are better served by leaving the stage.

When Win-Lose is Employed

Win-lose is generally employed when no other business is ever going to happen again. In this sense, there is no need to ever consider the welfare of the other person, because you will never see him again.

For this reason, win-lose is endemic in house sales, used car sales, and court cases. You won't see it in rental housing negotiations, but you will see it in the closing days of your rental. It is for this reason that in many markets, the rental deposit is never returned.

It doesn't make itself felt so much in new car sales, because the brand of the car means that the seller might have to suffer if you are too displeased. Still, that's a theoretical observation, not one based on actual facts and different markets treat the new car sales environment differently.

Unfortunately, it is far too prevalent in other areas. Especially, the boss often employs win-lose negotiation on the employees. This is entirely inappropriate, and is done because the boss doesn't know any better. It's still costly, and a boss should learn better.

You should never use these techniques in your home.


The first and foremost thing is to know the techniques. Firstly for recognition, and secondly for defence. There are about 20 or so major techniques, and hundreds of variations; I'll fill them in as I recall them.

As they are quite long and often detailed, they are stored in the Win Lose Techniques list.


Wikipedia's long list of logical fallacies.