The wave of excitement surrounding Barbie has reached unparalleled heights. Across generations, the doll has found a place in many children’s rooms, and her enduring success remains undiminished to this day. As an international icon, she stands for beauty and elegance. Yet, below the shimmering surface lies a history of determination and persistence in tough situations – an essential mindset for successful negotiations.

Introduced in 1959, Barbie became one of the most recognizable toys of the 20th century. Not only did she reshape the whole industry, but she also revolutionized the way children engage with dolls. Over the decades, Barbie evolved into a cultural phenomenon, constantly adapting to the diversity of cultural and societal demands.

Behind the scenes, Ruth Handler and her unwavering vision were critical to Barbie’s success. When dealing with business partners, she encountered skepticism and resistance. Yet, the visionary founder’s path was marked by determination, strategic thinking, and a clear focus. Her commitment to bringing Barbie to life required a confident mindset: the “play-to-win” mindset. This perspective meant meeting challenges positively, accepting risks, and remaining determined to achieve goals. With this view, each of her challenges became a stepping stone to realizing her vision.

Just as Ruth Handler’s journey brought Barbie to life, this mindset is crucial for successfully leading negotiations. While they can evoke stress and fear for some people, others perceive them as an exciting challenge. Drawing from our experience at the Schranner Negotiation Institute, we observe that these contrasting perspectives greatly influence the outcomes individuals achieve in negotiations.

We understand that a goal-oriented but positive attitude is essential for success. Consequently, the “play-to-win” mindset is a crucial component of the Schranner Concept®, underscoring the importance of maintaining a positive mental state when approaching negotiations. More specifically, negotiating is seen as a playful process where the opportunity presents itself to strengthen one’s knowledge and negotiation skills and grow from the interaction with the counterpart. Science also confirms the connection of a positive mental state on negotiation performance. It has been demonstrated to positively influence the creative thinking process 1, negotiation outcomes and the ability to achieve goals2-4.

Rather than viewing negotiations as obligatory procedures, they need to be embraced as a playful endeavor that provides the opportunity to enhance one’s own abilities. However, it is crucial to note that the “play-to-win” approach does not endorse the use of unfair or unethical tactics. The essence of the “play-to-win” conviction lies in achieving the utmost favorable results in negotiations, consistently characterized by respectful and professional behavior.


1 Isen, A. M., Daubman, K. A., & Nowicki, G. P. 1987. Positive affect facilitates creative problem solving. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52(6): 1122–1131.

2 Baron, R. A. 1990. Environmentally induced positive affect: Its impact on self-efficacy, task performance, negotiation, and conflict. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 20(5): 368–384.

3 Barry, B., & Oliver, R. L. 1996. Affect in dyadic negotiation: A model and propositions. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 67(2):127–143.

4 Kumar, R. 1997. The role of affect in negotiations: An integrative overview. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 33(1): 84-100.




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