In MESO negotiation, where multiple offers are presented simultaneously at the negotiation table, effective negotiators seek opportunities to create value. By making tradeoffs across issues, parties can obtain greater value on the issues that are most important to them.
But how can you be sure you’re making the right offer during negotiations?
In a past issue of Negotiation Briefings, Victoria Husted Medvec and Adam D. Galinsky of Northwestern University argued that, in negotiations involving many issues, you can create a great deal of value by making multiple equivalent simultaneous offers, or MESOs.
MESO negotiation strategy entails identifying several proposals that you value equally and presenting them to the other side.
MESO: Negotiation Strategies for Creating Value
In a past issue of Negotiation Briefings, Victoria Husted Medvec and Adam D. Galinsky of Northwestern University argued that, in negotiations involving many issues, you can create a great deal of value by making multiple equivalent simultaneous offers, or MESOs. This negotiation strategy entails identifying several proposals that you value equally and presenting them to the other side.
A Negotiation Example Involving Salary Negotiations
For example, you might realize that you are equally willing to accept any of these employment packages: $80,000 per year with two weeks’ vacation and 30% travel, $75,000 per year with three weeks’ vacation and 25% travel, or $65,000 per year with four weeks’ vacation and 5% travel. By making multiple equivalent simultaneous offers, the theory goes, you appear to be a lot more flexible, collect information about the other side’s preferences based on which offer she likes best, and increase the odds of reaching a mutually beneficial negotiated agreement.
Until recently, the value of MESO negotiation was based on logic rather than on empirical results. Medvec and Galinsky teamed with Geoffrey Leonardelli of the University of Toronto and Aletha Claussen-Schulz to show that making MESOs during negotiations creates several benefits. Across four studies, they proved that this strategy does, in fact, help create value for negotiators. In addition, making MESOs helps the offering party claim more value by more efficiently meeting the needs of the other side. Finally, while the offering party succeeds at both claiming and creating value, the other side perceives him as more flexible and accommodating. The only cost of the strategy is that it requires thorough preparation prior to entering into a negotiation.
The evidence is in: making multiple offers simultaneously is an effective negotiation strategy but it is one that is used far too infrequently.
Have you found value in making MESOs in negotiation before? Share your experience with our readers in the comments section below.
Related Dealmaking Article: How to Negotiate When You’re Literally Far Apart – Don’t let distance be a barrier to your negotiated agreement. In this article based on negotiation research about bargaining at a distance, whether over email or on the phone, we offer negotiation tips for overcoming barriers to an agreement when your counterpart is at a distance.
Adapted from “Why You Should Make More Than One Offer,” first published in the Negotiation newsletter.
Originally posted in 2010.
I am wondering about dealing with the cherry-picker counteroffer of the lowest salary and select commitments. Of course, it would be wise to consider this when creating the alternatives, and perhaps imbedding an acceptable successive offer(s) among the choices.