Learn how to negotiate like a diplomat, think on your feet like an improv performer, and master job offer negotiation like a professional athlete when you download a copy of our FREE special report, Negotiation Skills: Negotiation Strategies and Negotiation Techniques to Help You Become a Better Negotiator, from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.


bargaining strategies

What are Bargaining Strategies?

While you might choose from several bargaining strategies for conducting a negotiation, a mutual-gains approach will help you find ways to create value and expand the pie of resources.

Some negotiators seem to believe that hard-bargaining strategies are the key to success. They resort to threats, extreme demands, and even unethical behavior to try to get the upper hand in a negotiation.

In fact, negotiators who fall back on these bargaining strategies in negotiation are typically betraying a lack of understanding about the gains that can be achieved in most business negotiations.

The most effective distributive bargaining strategies do not require you to sacrifice your integrity or resort to dirty tricks. Rather, distributive bargaining strategies can help ensure that you claim as much value as possible in your next important negotiation—but you have to be willing to prepare.

Business negotiators can negotiate by brainstorming creative solutions, identifying differences in preferences that can be ripe for tradeoffs, and building trust.

When you know the areas of agreement where you and your counterpart are in alignment (and those areas on which you diverge), a skilled negotiator can craft an agreement that most closely approximates her own and her counterpart’s needs while building a bargaining relationship with her counterpart. Rather than antagonistic, the negotiation process becomes a value-creating, integrative situation in which each side gets a “fair share” of the pool of resources.

Wise negotiators recognize the value of both collaborating and competing at the bargaining table. They look for ways to increase the pie of value for all parties. By identifying differences across issues and making tradeoffs, both parties can walk away with a winning deal.

Discover how to boost your power at the bargaining table in this free special report, BATNA Basics: Boost Your Power at the Bargaining Table, from Harvard Law School.

The following items are tagged bargaining strategies:

Star Wars Stories: George Lucas and a Strong BATNA, Passed Over

Posted by & filed under BATNA.

In negotiation, your best source of power is typically your best alternative to a negotiated agreement, or BATNA. When you are aware that you have an appealing alternative deal to the one you’re working on, you will be less tempted to accept an agreement that doesn’t meet your minimum requirements. A strong BATNA gives you … Read More 

Make the Most of Online Negotiations

Posted by & filed under Free Report.

We said goodbye to breakfast meetings, client lunches, and after-work happy hours. Goodbye to handshakes, fist bumps, and pats on the back. Goodbye to the boots-on-the-ground sales game as we knew it, and hello to Zoom calls and text messaging. To make matters even more difficult, the economy started to trend downwards—and so did the … Read More 

Negotiating with Millennials – How to Overcome Cultural Differences in Communication

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations.

Negotiation training often focuses on bridging gaps between negotiators with different styles, backgrounds, or objectives, but what about overcoming generational barriers in negotiation? Generational differences need not stymie efforts at the bargaining table. In this segment from “Dear Negotiation Coach,” we explore how to overcome cultural differences in communication with members of the Millennial generation. … Read More 

Getting the Deal Done

Posted by & filed under Free Report.

Dear Business Professional, Simon’s story says a lot how to get deals done. Here’s how he tells it: For nearly a decade, I’ve been an acquisitions editor at one of the largest book publishers in the Northeast. It’s my job to skim through reams of manuscripts to identify those that might be commercially viable—and … Read More 

How to Use MESOs in Business Negotiations

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations.

It’s not uncommon in business negotiations to find yourself on the brink of impasse. You and your counterpart have exchanged a series of offers and counteroffers, and you’ve met somewhere close to the middle—but not close enough. With each side firmly rooted in its position, there may seem to be no way forward. … Read More 

How Mood Affects Negotiators

Posted by & filed under Conflict Resolution.

What are social psychologists learning about the connections among emotions, negotiation, and decision making? Negotiation contributor Jennifer S. Lerner of Harvard Kennedy School and her colleagues have identified two critical themes. First, they have studied the carryover of emotion from one episode, such as a car accident, to an unrelated situation, such as a workplace … Read More 

Salary Negotiation: How to Ask for a Higher Salary

Posted by & filed under Salary Negotiations.

For a new employee, salary negotiation skills can be the most important and the most intimidating, but the most important, of difficult conversations to have at the beginning of your career. A new employee, successfully negotiating a salary offer up by $5,000 could make a huge difference over the course of her career. … Read More 

Understanding Different Negotiation Styles

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

In the business world, some negotiators always seem to get what they want, while others more often tend to come up short. What might make some people better negotiators than others? The answer may be in part that people bring different negotiation styles and strategies to the bargaining table, based on their different personalities, experiences, … Read More 

Union Strikes and Dispute Resolution Strategies

Posted by & filed under Dispute Resolution.

When a conflict looms, it can be tempting for each side to try to make unilateral decisions on key issues because of the belief that negotiations with the other side will be a dead end. This dispute resolution strategy may pay off in the short term, but it’s important to factor in the long-term costs … Read More 

Distributive Bargaining Strategies

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

Wise negotiators recognize the value of both collaborating and competing at the bargaining table. They look for ways to increase the pie of value for all parties, often by identifying differences across issues and making tradeoffs. And they also rely on distributive bargaining strategies to try to claim as much of that larger pie for … Read More 

Fairness in Negotiation

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

Imagine that you and your business partner agree to sell your company. You end up getting an offer that pleases you both, so now you face the enviable task of splitting up the rewards. How do you ensure that there is fairness in negotiation? … Read More 

How to Handle Difficult Customers

Posted by & filed under Dealing with Difficult People.

Every salesperson has his or her war stories: tales of difficult customers who made extreme demands and threats, tried to take advantage, or were extremely rude. Dealing with difficult customers is inevitable in the sales world, and the question of how to handle difficult customers looms large. The following three guidelines can help you stay … Read More 

10 Popular Business Negotiation Articles

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations.

Here are ten popular business negotiation articles on the Program on Negotiation website. Drawn from a variety of negotiation case studies as well as negotiation research, the following articles offer strategies for engaging in integrative negotiations aimed at creating win-win scenarios for each party at the negotiation table. 1. What is the Right of First Refusal? Rights … Read More 

Top International Negotiation Case Studies in Business: The Microsoft-Nokia Deal

Posted by & filed under International Negotiation.

International negotiation brings on more challenges than most. On September 3, 2013, Microsoft announced a deal to acquire Finnish mobile phone company Nokia’s handset and services business for $7.2 billion, the New York Times reported. The agreement marked a belated but bold move by Microsoft to upgrade its presence in handheld devices and signals an … Read More 

Adaptability at the Bargaining Table: How Improvisation and Jazz Music Inform Negotiation Strategy

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

Aggressive tactics and hard-bargaining strategies may, at face value, provide a roadmap to success at the bargaining table but, as the Washington Post’s Kelly Johnson discovered in her interview with Program on Negotiation faculty member Michael Wheeler, adaptability to ever-changing circumstances is essential for the “dynamic” negotiations one encounters in everyday life. … Read More 

Negotiation Skills for Resolving International Conflicts

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

What are the essential skills a negotiator needs to resolve conflicts abroad? How do international conflicts differ from domestic conflicts? What issues specific to bargaining across borders emerges in intercultural negotiations? In this article we explore ways in which negotiators can develop bargaining skills to overcome any barriers to communication they may encounter in negotiations … Read More 

To Improve Your Negotiation Skills, Learn from a Pro

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On February 16, in the midst of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) All-Star weekend, members of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) unanimously voted to oust Billy Hunter as the union’s executive director. “This is our union and we have taken it back,” National Basketball Players Association president Derek Fisher said, as reported by ESPN.com. Fisher … Read More