How to Negotiate Win-Win Agreements

It's not about winning or losing but about getting the best deal for both sides

Rod Solar

Posted: Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

You’ve dressed appropriately for the 30°C weather outside, but your colleague keeps switching the office air-con to arctic blast. You want to offer a generous annual leave, but your employees always seem to want to book their holidays during your busiest months. You want to spend time with your patients and ensure they have the best quality care, but your receptionist is always buzzing you to speed things up. However trivial these situations may seem, they are in fact negotiations, and they take place every single day whether you are aware of them or not.

“Negotiation is a basic means of getting what you want from others. It is back-and-forth communication designed to reach an agreement when you and the other side have some interests that are shared and others that are opposed.” – Getting to Yes, Second edition by Fisher, Ury and Patton.

Some negotiations can be forgotten about in a matter of seconds, while others can have repercussions that linger for years to come. Think back to a time where you may have negotiated. Have any of those decisions had a long-lasting impact? Perhaps you agreed to sell your share of a practice for much less than you put into it for or your ex won custody of the dog. Maybe you settled on a remuneration package that was much lower than you think you deserve. Do you think the outcome could have been different if you were better equipped with the art of negotiation?

Ironically, as is the case with most careers, medical training is long-standing and focuses primarily on the acquisition of specialist knowledge and specialist practical skills. However, career success is based on several capabilities that are barely taught or addressed in medical school and during residency. Negotiation is one of them.

Professor Dr. med. Daniel Kook, Fellow of the European Board of Ophthalmology (FEBO), and Sheraz Daya, Medical Director at the Centre for Sight, recognise this issue and its impact on career and private practice success, particularly during the early stages. They hope to fill this gap in the curriculum at the 37th Congress of the ESCRS, with a session devoted to “How to Negotiate” during the Practice Management and Development Programme.

Kook and Daya’s session will cover a wide range of topics including identifying the best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA), with applications that impact negotiating pay increases, vacation time, promotions, buying or leasing equipment and seeking external marketing support to expand the business.

The main takeaway from the session is anchored around principled negotiation rather than positional negotiation. It’s not about winning or losing but about getting the best deal for both sides.

To illustrate this process, I’ll moderate a mock negotiation between Kook and Daya on stage using a topic that will be of great importance for many in the room – the issue of negotiating remuneration of associate surgeons.

By applying the advice set out in Fisher, Ury and Patton’s book Getting to Yes, the audience will witness the pair attempt to arrive at a win-win result where both parties walk away while meeting their interests.

By the end of this session, you will have some exposure to necessary skills that, if used, will improve the outcomes of your negotiations in the context of your practice, your career, as well as your private relationships by engendering leverage at the negotiation table.

It’s not to be missed!