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Winning at all costs – beware of Pyrrhic victories

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Negotiation touches every part of our lives. Relationships in business and in our personal lives are negotiated. And the skills to do it effectively can often mean the difference between getting what you want or losing out. You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate!

In the first section of the book, How to be a Great Negotiator, written by property economist, investor and developer Neville Berkowitz, the characteristic traits of a great negotiator are explored in short, bite-sized nuggets of advice.

Over the next 132 days, we will bring you the traits needed to succeed at the art of negotiating.

(Courtesy of PersonalEmpowerment.co)

23 Competitiveness

Compassion, while important, is a poor substitute for healthy competitiveness. To be a great negotiator, you must think like a winner, and have a genuine, old-fashioned competitive streak. You must recognise negotiation as a “game” with real stakes to be played fully, fairly, even creatively, and enjoyed like any other.

You create a competitive advantage for yourself by fully preparing, doing your homework in advance, and showing up primed and ready. You can display your competitive advantage during the negotiations at the right moment, but without an arrogant, abusive, or bullying manner that may backfire.

As a competitive negotiator, you are fully committed to achieving your primary objectives, and you do your best to negotiate the best deal you can get for yourself. But, as a mature negotiator, you also recognise the legitimacy of the other party’s needs. And you understand and accept that a win-win outcome that serves your long-term best interest usually precludes you initially getting everything you want at the other party’s expense.

Competitiveness doesn’t mean winning is everything, or the only thing. While you can and must win consistently to be a great negotiator and a successful business person, you don’t have to annihilate the other party, make them lose all around, deprive them of any benefit, and leave a bitter taste in their mouths. A “win-at-any-cost” attitude is the father of all “Pyrrhic victories” and makes you a loser in the long run.

Negotiation, by definition, is not war. It is a means of seeking a resolution that reasonably satisfies the apparently conflicting needs and wishes of all parties. To approach negotiation as war undermines the very intent of negotiation. It diminishes you as a negotiator and a human being, and turns potential associates and allies into enemies.

You can be a competitive negotiator and win without antagonising, demolishing, and alienating the other party, and creating needless ill will. You can keep a competitive eye on the immediate prize, and a wise eye on those ethics and principles of fairness and basic human decency that create win-win outcomes, support your long-term success as a negotiator, and promote long-term business relationships.


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