Negotiation and Leadership: Dealing with Difficult People and Problems

THREE-DAY PROGRAM | December 2–4, 2024

Our program will feature:

  • Role plays and negotiation exercises—You’ll have the opportunity to test what you learn by taking part in realistic negotiations with your fellow participants.
  • One-on-one interaction with top faculty—You’ll have the opportunity to talk one-on-one with negotiation experts from Harvard, and other leading institutions.
  • Live collaboration—Collaborate, network, and build relationships with peers from across the nation and around the world.

Our faculty members have negotiated peace treaties, closed multimillion-dollar deals, and have created Negotiation and Leadership, a highly interactive program that features negotiation best practices and cutting-edge research.

BONUS DAY | December 5, 2024

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most

Three-day Program Agenda:
Negotiation and Leadership: Dealing with Difficult People and Problems
DAY 1: Monday, December 2, 2024

Registration, Continental Breakfast and Overview
8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. ET

Negotiation Fundamentals: Key Concepts and Core Vocabulary
9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ET

Negotiation is a high-transaction-cost activity, and the side that is better prepared nearly always has the upper hand. This session will examine core frameworks of negotiation, including the importance of principled bargaining and shared problem solving.

Alongside your fellow participants, you will be:

  • Preparing for your negotiation
  • Exploring the difference between interests and positions
  • Determining alternative options you are open to if you cannot reach an agreement with your counterpart
  • Learning to analyze a negotiation problem and find ways to unlock new value
  • Evaluating your standing with your counterpart and identify potential actions for developing a more positive relationship

Through negotiation exercises and interactive discussions, you will examine ways to structure the bargaining process to accommodate joint problem solving, brainstorming, and collaborative fact finding. These frameworks will help you create smarter negotiation conditions, make more strategic decisions, and leave the bargaining table with improved outcomes.


Managing the Tension Between Creating and Claiming Value
1:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. ET

In most negotiations, we pursue two goals: value claiming and value creating. Successful negotiators know how to create more value by negotiating trades across issues and then claim the lion’s share of that value through distributive negotiation strategies. In this session, you will be:

  • Learning to clarify your interests and priorities, and then estimating your counterpart’s interests, identifying which interests are shared and which are different
  • Identifying the range of alternatives you are willing to consider if your counterpart does not give consent
  • Brainstorming possible agreements or concessions that might creatively satisfy both parties’ interests
  • Establishing legitimacy for your side: exploring arguments that make an agreement or a term feel more fair and appropriate
  • Assessing your relationship with your counterpart and determining whether you can take steps to generate positive emotions and avoid negative reactions
  • Outlining your communication strategy and asking yourself: What do you want to learn from your counterpart? What are you willing to share? What is your agenda, and how will you handle disagreements or stalemates?
  • Identifying opportunities to capture and create value. Are you understanding the other party’s interests and goals, recognizing that cooperative behaviors facilitate value creation while competitive behaviors do not?

You will learn how to evaluate the best alternative to a negotiated agreement, create a zone of possible agreement, and implement the mutual gains approach to negotiation.

DAY 2: Tuesday, December 3, 2024

Managing Emotions and Relationships
8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ET

Negotiating better outcomes is contingent upon building successful relationships. To be effective, executives must learn to navigate personality differences, diverse agendas, and social pressures. Building on the frameworks learned the previous day, you will examine how positive working relationships are vital to creating and implementing lasting agreements. You will discover strategies for:

  • Identifying the core concerns that must be addressed to manage emotions in the workplace
  • Creating a relationship through engagement (Who are we?), framing (What are we doing?), and process (How will we do it?)
  • Projecting warmth and competence
  • Determining when to cooperate to create value and when to compete to claim your share
  • Recognizing the structure and social context of the game
  • Understanding your own negotiation style and the styles of others
  • Understanding your own biases and tendencies
  • Avoiding common pitfalls and errors
  • Achieving negotiation success
  • Strengthen interpersonal relationships in business

By taking part in negotiation simulations, you will gain a better understanding of different negotiation and decision-making strategies—enabling you to determine which approach is most appropriate in a given situation.


Dealing with Difficult Situations
1:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. ET

In this session, you will be introduced to a set of breakthrough strategies for dealing with manipulative tactics, stonewalling, and obstructive behavior. Designed to enhance your skill in mutual gains negotiation and increase your proficiency in overcoming hard bargainers and hard bargaining situations, this session will help you with:

  • Equipping yourself for difficult negotiations
  • Preparing to negotiate when you do not have much time
  • Understanding the importance of active listening
  • Improving your ability to analyze a situation and choose the appropriate strategy and response
  • Neutralizing threats, lies, and insults
  • Dealing with someone who is more powerful than you
  • Handling power more constructively
  • Regaining control of the negotiation
  • Identifying and control your own tendencies in the face of conflict
  • Separating intention from impact
  • Proactively changing the game by how you play

You will learn to recognize the most common manipulative tactics used by difficult people, along with strategies for neutralizing their effects. Discover how to succeed, not by defeating the other side but by advocating persuasively for your own.

DAY 3: Wednesday, December 4, 2024

Complex Negotiations and Organizational Challenges
8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ET

In managing internal and external negotiations, what can you do to maximize the deal for both sides—even in the face of obstacles and barriers? What tools work best for managers who need to shape agreements and informal understandings within a complex web of relationships? In this session, you will discover strategies for anticipating and responding to an array of complicating factors. You will acquire sophisticated techniques for:

  • Working in complex situations and planning ahead for future negotiations
  • Understanding the tension between principals and agents
  • Begin dealing with multiparty negotiations, including building coalitions, mapping out stakeholders, and blocking coalitions
  • Examining value differences and determining when they can be reconciled (and when they cannot)
  • Coping with values-based disputes
  • Responding to obstacles
  • Adopting preparation guides and procedures
  • Committing to value-creating moves
  • Considering contingent agreements that take into account different assumptions about the future
  • Identifying internal obstacles that can hinder your negotiations
  • Overcoming anxiety about committing to cooperative efforts that can create value

Leading Through Negotiation
1:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. ET

People become skillful negotiators and leaders through practice and analysis. In this culminating session, you will have the opportunity to practice many of the key concepts, frameworks, and tools you have acquired throughout the program, while learning about the challenges of team decision making. Using a final relevant case study, faculty will bring to life challenges of negotiation and leadership that you will face when you return to your roles and responsibilities. You will practice with the tools you have added to your tool kit, building negotiation agility and resilience so that you can lead more effectively within and beyond your organization.

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most

Thursday, December 5, 2024, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. ET

Gain the strategies, tools, and frameworks you need to manage difficult conversations effectively in this program led by negotiation experts Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone.

Learn More About This Bonus Day

Our Faculty

Our faculty is comprised of world-renowned faculty from all across Harvard including Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School, and Harvard Kennedy School.

Guhan Subramanian
Guhan Subramanian

Faculty Chair, Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School; Joseph H. Flom Professor of Law and Business, Harvard Law School; H. Douglas Weaver Professor of Business Law, Harvard Business School; Faculty Chair, JD/MBA Program, Harvard University

The first person in the history of Harvard University to hold tenured appointments at both Harvard Law School (HLS) and Harvard Business School (HBS), Guhan Subramanian is a consummate educator, dealmaker, and leader. As the chair of the Program on Negotiation, he spearheads negotiation and mediation training programs for the more than 3,000 professionals who attend every year. At HLS, Subramanian teaches courses on negotiation and corporate law. At HBS, he teaches in several executive education programs, including Strategic Negotiations, Changing the Game, Making Corporate Boards More Effective, and Mergers and Acquisitions, of which he is faculty chair.

Subramanian’s research focuses on corporate governance, corporate law, and negotiation. His books include Dealmaking: The New Strategy of Negotiauctions. Eleven of his articles have been selected as being among the “top 10” articles published in corporate and securities law. The two-volume treatise Law and Economics of Mergers and Acquisitions, which includes 33 seminal articles from the field over the past 45 years, contains four of his articles—more than from any other scholar.

Subramanian advises individuals, boards of directors, and management teams on issues of dealmaking and corporate governance. He has been involved in major public-company deals, such as Oracle’s $10 billion hostile takeover bid for PeopleSoft, Cox Enterprises’ $9 billion freeze-out of the minority shareholders in Cox Communications, Exelon’s $8 billion hostile takeover bid for NRG, and the $26 billion management buyout of Dell Inc. Over the past 10 years, he has been an advisor or expert witness in deals or situations worth more than $150 billion in total value. He is also the director of LKQ Corporation (NASDAQ: LKQ), a Fortune 500 company in the automotive sector.

James Sebenius
James Sebenius

Gordon Donaldson Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School; Vice Chair for Practice-Focused Research, Program on Negotiation Executive Committee; Chair, Great Negotiator Award Committee; Director, Harvard Negotiation Project; Co-Director, American Secretaries of State Program

An authority on complex negotiations, James Sebenius has advanced the field in the academic realm, in the public and diplomatic sectors, and the business world; outside Harvard, he has worked full-time in the U.S. Commerce and State Departments as well as at the Blackstone Group.

At the Harvard Business School, Sebenius spearheaded the effort to make negotiation a required course in the M.B.A. program, and he created the negotiation department, which he led for several years. As a co-founder of Lax Sebenius LLC, he provides negotiation advisory services to corporations and governments worldwide.

Daniel L. Shapiro
Daniel L. Shapiro

Founder and Director, Harvard International Negotiation Program; Associate Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital; Affiliate faculty, Program on Negotiation

The founder and director of the Harvard International Negotiation Program, Daniel Shapiro teaches a highly evaluated course on negotiation at Harvard College; instructs psychology interns at Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital; and leads executive education sessions at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, Harvard Kennedy School, and Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital. He also has served on the faculty at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, and at the Sloan School of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Named one of the top 15 professors at Harvard University, Shapiro specializes in practice-based research—building theory and testing it in real-world contexts. He has launched successful conflict resolution initiatives in the Middle East, Europe, and East Asia, and for three years chaired the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Conflict Resolution. Focusing extensively on the emotional and identity-based dimensions of negotiation and conflict resolution, Shapiro led the initiative to create the world’s first Global Curriculum on Conflict Management for senior policymakers as well as a conflict management curriculum that now reaches one million youth across more than 20 countries. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the American Psychological Association’s Early Career Award and the Cloke-Millen Peacemaker of the Year Award. In May of 2019, Shapiro was named Harvard’s Joseph R. Levenson Memorial Teaching Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the oldest of the teaching awards given out by the Undergraduate Council.

Debbie Goldstein
Debbie Goldstein

Lecturer on Law, Harvard Law School; Lecturer on Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Managing Partner, Triad Consulting

Debbie Goldstein has extensive experience in both the private and academic sectors. She is a lecturer at both Harvard Law School and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and she has been an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center and a lecturer at Tufts University School of Medicine. Goldstein also shares her expertise with executives through the Harvard Negotiation Institute.

She is also the principal and managing director of Triad Consulting, a consulting firm specializing in the field of conflict resolution. Her clients range from private equity firms to teaching hospitals and from large banks to public and independent schools. Her work often takes her internationally: to Dubai, where she worked with government leaders; to Ethiopia, where she worked with newly elected members of Parliament; and to Cyprus, where she taught public policy students from across the globe. In the public sector, she helped found and run LINC (Legal Initiative for Children), a free legal aid clinic to improve health care for low-income families.

Robert Wilkinson
Robert Wilkinson

Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School

A negotiation and leadership specialist, Wilkinson is on the faculty at Harvard Kennedy School, where he teaches graduate courses on leadership in complex environments and negotiation theory and practice. Wilkinson has won several Dean’s Teaching Awards at Harvard, and also served as a special advisor on negotiation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Previously, he was on the faculty at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy for eight years.

As management consultant, Wilkinson has nearly 25 years of experience in more than 45 countries, within the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. From General Mills and IBM to the Gates Foundation and World Wildlife Fund, he has helped numerous Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, international organizations, and charities increase their effectiveness. Wilkinson has worked overseas on a variety of international negotiation projects, including spending three years in Rwanda working with Hutu and Tutsi communities and two years working with the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Angola.

Bonus Day Faculty

Sheila Heen
Sheila Heen

Heen is a lecturer at Harvard Law School and has spent the last 20 years with the Harvard Negotiation Project, developing negotiation theory and practice. She specializes in particularly difficult negotiations—where emotions run high and relationships become strained. Sheila is coauthor of Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most with Douglas Stone and Bruce Patton and of Thanks for the Feedback with Douglas Stone.

Douglas Stone
Douglas Stone

Stone is a lecturer at Harvard Law School and has taught the art of negotiation around the world. Stone is co-author, along with Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen, of the New York Times business best seller Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, and with Heen of the acclaimed Thanks for the Feedback.