Take Your Negotiation Skills to the Master Level
What if you could negotiate at an even higher level? The Harvard Negotiation Master Class is designed for people like you: strong negotiators who want to become even better ones.
Strictly limited to 60 participants who have completed a prior course in negotiation, this program offers unprecedented access to experts from Harvard Law School, Harvard Business School, and Harvard Kennedy School—all of whom are committed to delivering a transformational learning experience.
Through dynamic exercises with two-way feedback and intensive simulations, you will gain proven frameworks for addressing your most complicated negotiation challenges—and emerge a highly skilled and confident dealmaker.
The Harvard Negotiation Master Class has run biannually to sold-out classes, and along the way has taught nearly 1,000 global negotiators to become “Master Negotiators.”
Top Nine Reasons to Attend the Harvard Negotiation Master Class
- Learn to set the tone and build momentum at the outset of a negotiation.
- Identify shared, opposing, and tradeable interests.
- Recognize the indicators that your negotiation counterpart is ready to close—with a particular focus on thresholds of satisfaction with the process, the substance, and the relationship.
- Gain a robust framework for improving the quality of feedback conversations.
- Assess the deal versus the attractiveness of no-agreement alternatives.
- Learn to identify blind spots—the places where you are missing opportunities and frustrating others.
- Establish the groundwork for identifying the other side’s victory speech by addressing their underlying interests and concerns.
- Learn how to ask probing, clarifying, and investigative questions in a nondefensive manner.
- Understand how to manage difficult deals and ugly conflicts.
Join the Ranks of Master Negotiators
Mastering the art of negotiation is a lifelong journey. The Harvard Negotiation Master Class offers the rare opportunity to step away from your day-to-day responsibilities to self-reflect and focus on developing a competency that will serve you for the rest of your professional life. After three intensive days, you will emerge a highly confident negotiator who truly understands the game—and loves to play it.
DAY 1 – Monday, May 8
THE FIRST 180 SECONDS: CREATING IMPACTFUL OPENINGS
8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ET
Led by Brian Mandell
Learn to set the tone and build momentum at the outset of a negotiation.
As a seasoned negotiator, you know how important it is to come prepared for the full arc of a negotiation. Research shows, however, that you should spend just as much time preparing for the first 180 seconds of a negotiation encounter as you do for the rest. That’s because the outcomes of the very first interactions—where negotiators act upon thin slices of information—disproportionately affect overall success. Moreover, when things go awry in these critical first few moments, it can be difficult to recover lost ground.
In this session, you’ll learn how to effectively set the tone and agenda, create rapport, and build momentum at the outset of a negotiation. You will additionally enhance your ability to:
- Prepare for negotiation by evaluating sources of power and assessing barriers to negotiated agreement.
- Identify shared, opposing, and tradeable interests.
- Set a firm, collaborative tone, shape expectations, and propose a well-sequenced agenda that aligns with your priorities.
- Generate momentum and a trust-building conversation by sharing information.
- Invoke fairness standards to avoid early missteps likely to trigger an impasse or motivate potential spoilers.
- Ask probing, clarifying, and investigative questions in a nondefensive manner.
- Make opening offers grounded in high aspirations that signal a robust BATNA.
- Leverage your professional reputation to encourage concessions.
- Maintain emotional control and defend against hard bargaining tactics by reframing unacceptable early moves or offers designed to destabilize negotiators.
- Establish the groundwork for writing the other side’s victory speech by focusing on addressing their underlying interests and concerns.
- Signal your attentiveness to geographic and organizational cross-cultural differences.
Difficult Deals and Ugly Conflicts
1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. ET
Led by Deepak Malhotra
As a seasoned negotiator, you know how to navigate deals and manage disputes. But sometimes, matters completely spiral out of control: conflict is escalating, people are behaving aggressively and/or unethically, the rules of engagement are unclear (or keep changing), and you have limited influence over the process or the parties involved.
While these situations can be daunting, even the most intractable conflicts can be resolved successfully—if you have the right tools.
In this session, we will identify frameworks, principles, and tactics to help you break impasses and navigate difficult deal and dispute environments more effectively. The afternoon will feature two case discussions—one involving a high-stakes business deal and the other involving a protracted and seemingly intractable armed conflict.
By participating in in-depth analysis and interactive group discussions, you will discover the importance of, and gain greater proficiency in a variety of valuable negotiation skills, including:
- Controlling the frame of the negotiation.
- Negotiating process (and not just the substance of the deal).
- Creating the conditions that make ultimate success more likely.
- Auditing and altering the scope of what is being negotiated, when necessary.
- Ensuring that your strategy has accounted for the interests, constraints, alternatives, and perspectives of all parties that can influence the negotiation (not just the people in the room).
DAY 2 – Tuesday, May 9
Advanced Difficult Conversations—
Building (and Re-Building) Trust
8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ET
Led by Sheila Heen
Overcome the relational friction and frustration that can make joint-problem-solving impossible.
You can’t avoid difficult conversations. But you can learn to make them less painful—and more productive. In this session, we will take a look at three suites of skills that advanced negotiators can use to diagnose challenges and adjust their approach when things get tough. We will also draw on the Difficult Conversations framework for engaging tough issues in difficult circumstances, and under time pressure.
The centerpiece of this session will be preparing for and conducting a 10-minute negotiation, in which frustration, mistrust, time pressure, grave consequences, and the need for complex problem-solving come together to create a perfect storm.
Alongside your peers, you will have the opportunity to:
- Face a counterpart who is impatient, distracted, in a position of authority, and with whom you have some relationship history.
- Work with a teammate in order to learn from another’s negotiation approach and think about how to best prepare together as a team.
- Integrate sometimes conflicting information from multiple sources.
- Clarify your own purposes and priorities.
- Plan how to open and to frame the problem.
- Respond to unexpected surprises or resistance.
- Draw on your diagnostic skills to make good choices in the moment as that negotiation unfolds.
- Practice advanced skills that will enable you to repair trust, build a stronger working relationship, and solve problems together.
- Receive coaching from peers.
Managing “Trigger Point” Moments
1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. ET
Led by Rob Wilkinson
Identify—and capitalize on—game-changing inflection points.
Maybe this scene is familiar to you: You are engaged in some sort of interaction—a quick chat with a colleague in the hallway, a spirited political debate with an aunt at the dinner table, a friendly exchange with the stranger behind you in line at the bank. You and your counterpart are pleasant and cordial.
And then things change. Your counterpart says something and the words you hear are an affront—to your values, your beliefs, and even your identity—and in that moment, you are frozen. You wrestle with the impulse to defend against personal attack, or the need to correct this person’s misguided views on such an important topic.
What should you do? Call them out and risk escalating the situation, or walk away and risk validating their righteousness? Hear them out and risk amplifying their nonsense, or educate them and risk compelling them to dig in further?
You need to manage those tensions, control your emotions, and make decisions: on what you’re trying to accomplish, on whether to engage, on how to engage, on how to preserve the relationship, on how to end this conversation.
And it all has to happen in about two seconds.
This session will examine these moments—when we impulsively react or are clueless how to—through the lens of choice, and how we can manage our individual abilities to identify, analyze, and select one in a split second, thus charting the course for the rest of the interaction. Participants will walk away with a set of concrete ideas, tools, and skills for how to avoid reacting instinctively, and instead diagnose what is going on in a heat-of-the-moment situation, and respond thoughtfully and strategically.
DAY 3 – Wednesday, May 10
Multiparty Negotiations—Managing the Challenges and Opportunities of Group Decision Making
8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ET
Facilitated by Master Class Coach Team, led by Alonzo Emery
Put your negotiation skills to the test.
Most decisions are made with input from a variety of stakeholders. As the number of parties at the decision-making table grows, negotiation challenges and the opportunities they present multiply as well. Additional parties create more opinions about the “right” process to follow and more views about which issues should remain central. Attempting to satisfy all of these various interests and perspectives can reduce the zone of possible agreement. This session explores how advanced negotiators manage the myriad challenges of multiparty negotiations, while also leveraging opportunities to improve relationships and create greater value.
Through a fast-paced multiparty negotiation simulation, you will put the many skills you have honed throughout the workshop to the test. Led by Master Class coaches, the simulation debrief will help you to draw unique insights from your own experience—lessons that you can rely on during the many group processes you will lead in the future. Specifically, you will learn to:
- Diagnose the peaked challenges inherent in multiparty negotiations.
- Identify key stakeholders and decide which to include at the table.
- Focus on value creation in the face of multiple, conflicting interests.
- Maintain relationships while managing diverse personalities and perspectives.
- Design a robust process that will keep your group moving forward and on task.
- Consider and choose the right forum for your group discussions.
- Establish group norms to help guide you through your deliberations.
- Set realistic deadlines that will keep your group centered on its purpose.
- Divide responsibilities appropriately so that each group member fills a meaningful and useful role.
Participants will be supported by a group of coaches. Past coaches have included Clinical Instructors with the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program; Harvard Law School Negotiation Workshop; Harvard Kennedy School Negotiation Project; MIT-Harvard Public Disputes Program; and practitioners and consultants.
THE LAST 180 SECONDS: CLOSING THE DEAL WITH CONFIDENCE
1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. ET
Led by Brian Mandell
Openings and closings are the critical bookend of any negotiation: the close.
You’ve made it to the end of a negotiation—are you ready for what comes next? The goal of this session is to prepare you to effectively manage those final minutes in a negotiation when an important, high-consequence deal hangs in the balance and any missteps could quickly undermine parties’ trust and confidence, resulting in the deal unraveling. Navigating this “last mile challenge” compels negotiators to multi-task—to maintain discipline, focus, and resilience, while simultaneously addressing the substantive and relationship dimensions of the negotiation needed for crafting a sustainable value-creating deal.
In this session you will learn to:
- Assess willingness and readiness to close the deal.
- Overcome psychological and bureaucratic decision-making barriers to commitment-making and closing the deal.
- Confront hard bargaining “take it or leave it” and yes-but tactics.
- Write your counterpart’s victory speech to reduce hesitancy and resistance to closing the deal now.
- Use the negotiator’s pause to better control the rate and scope of making any final concessions.
- Deal with impasse stemming from the last-minute introduction of new pre-conditions prior to signing the deal.
- Distinguish between hard and soft closings and when to use them to maximize your leverage.
- Manage intra-team conflict with your own back-table to better communicate strong and consistent signals across the table.
- Limit gratuitous bargaining and conflict escalation.
- Leverage deadlines and time urgency.
- Build commitment to deal implementation.
- Frame and re-frame offers to scope and refine the deal components.
- Use dispute resolution mechanisms to safeguard against a counterpart’s non-compliance with commitments to deal implementation.
Meet the Faculty
Sheila Heen is the Thaddeus R. Beal Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School, and serves as a Deputy Director of the Harvard Negotiation Project, where she has been developing negotiation theory and practice since 1995. She specializes in particularly difficult negotiations – where emotions run high, and relationships are strained. She is a co-author of two New York Times bestsellers, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most and Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (Even When It’s Off-Base, Unfair, Poorly Delivered, and Frankly, You’re Not in the Mood).
Brian Mandell is the Mohammad Kamal Senior Lecturer in Negotiation and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, a faculty associate at the Center for Public Leadership, and Director of the Harvard Kennedy School Negotiation Project. He is a preeminent teacher and curriculum designer at the Harvard Kennedy School, where he leads an innovative, intensive annual workshop course on advanced multiparty negotiation and conflict resolution.
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.
Deepak Malhotra is the Eli Goldston Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He is the author of Negotiating the Impossible and The Peacemaker’s Code, and co-author (with Max Bazerman) of Negotiation Genius. Deepak’s teaching, research, and advisory work is focused on negotiation, deal-making, diplomacy, and conflict resolution. Outside HBS, Deepak is a trainer, consultant, and advisor to firms and CEOs across the globe, and an advisor to governments that are trying to negotiate an end to protracted and intractable armed conflicts.
Alonzo Emery is a lawyer, mediator, facilitator, and educator who specializes in navigating challenging conversations and complex negotiations. He works with leaders across industries to develop effective conflict management strategies and engage in meaningful cross-cultural dialogue. In this capacity, he has led projects and workshops for Salesforce, Hewlett Packard, HSBC, the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service, the National Institutes of Health, the Asian Development Bank, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and JSW Law School in the Kingdom of Bhutan, among many others.
About the Program on Negotiation
Leaders in Negotiation Executive Education
- PON’s executive education training programs are designed to help participants become successful negotiators who can deal with difficult people and hard bargainers, structure deals, and manage conflict productively.
- To ensure a highly personalized experience, each session of the Harvard Negotiation Master Class is strictly limited to 60 participants.
- World-renowned faculty members from Harvard Law School, Harvard Business School, and Harvard Kennedy School constitute the teaching team.
Who Should Attend
The Harvard Negotiation Master Class attracts a diverse group of participants—all of whom are proficient negotiators who wish to take their skills to the next level.
To be eligible for the Harvard Negotiation Master Class, applicants must demonstrate at least 10 to 20 years of negotiation experience, as well as a prior course with PON or a comparable program centered on mutual gains bargaining. In addition, we require a minimum of 6 months between any foundational training and attendance at the Master Class to allow for practical experience and implementation between learning.
…And Many More!
Fees and Dates
Harvard Negotiation Master Class sessions:
Monday to Wednesday, May 8-10, 2023
Location: In-person programs are held at the Marlow Hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Upon completion of the course and a program evaluation, participants receive a certificate of completion.
“This course is designed to truly change the way one thinks about negotiating on many levels.”
“This is the best program of negotiation in the world.”
“This is definitely a very good investment of time, effort, and money.”