Business Negotiations: Cooperate to Claim Value

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What happens in negotiations between two individuals who care little about each other’s outcomes?

Suppose an engineer and an industrial designer are arguing over the design of a car bumper. The designer only cares about whether the bumper matches the style of the vehicle; the engineer is concerned only about how the bumper connects to the front. After describing the trouble he’s having with the existing design, the engineer presents a solution that the designer deems “ugly.” The designer threatens to involve her boss if the engineer doesn’t revert back to the prior design.

You’re the engineer – what do you do?

First, balance your value-claiming strategies by working to create value. Ask the designer to explain where she thinks the new design went wrong, and identify possible solutions and low-priority issues on which you can offer tradeoffs. Second, remind her that there’s hope for a solution if you both let down your guard and work together. Third, listen openly to  the designer’s proposals and try to build on them. Above all, ensure that your cooperative moves are reciprocated, or you’ll be vulnerable to exploitation.


Discover step-by-step techniques for avoiding common business negotiation pitfalls when you download a copy of the FREE special report, Business Negotiation Strategies: How to Negotiate Better Business Deals, from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.


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