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:

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 Make the Most of Online Negotiations

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

Getting the Deal Done

Posted by & filed under Free Report.

Negotiation is one of the most complex yet important skills to learn. Even individuals who are “born negotiators” need to practice and acquire new strategies to get some deals done. In Getting the Deal Done, you’ll discover bargaining strategies that have been used by many of the world’s most successful leaders. … Read Getting the Deal Done

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

Posted by & filed under International Negotiation.

Let’s look at the international negotiation case study of Microsoft’s decision to purchase Finnish mobile phone company Nokia’s mobile device business for $9.5 billion. The deal, which closed in 2014, quickly proved disastrous: Microsoft wrote off nearly all of the deal’s value and laid off thousands of workers in July 2015. Although there were many … Read More

10 Hard-Bargaining Tactics to Watch Out for in a Negotiation

Posted by & filed under BATNA.

Some negotiators seem to believe that hard-bargaining tactics 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 hard-bargaining strategies in negotiation are typically betraying a lack of understanding about the gains that … Read More

Dealing with Difficult People: Coping with an Insulting Offer in Contract Negotiations

Posted by & filed under Dealing with Difficult People.

The following “Ask the Negotiation Coach” question was posed to Dwight Golann, Suffolk University Law School professor and negotiation expert: “I deal with legal disputes and would like to find reasonable solutions without wasting years in court. But my opponents seem to feel compelled to make extreme—actually, insulting—opening offers. How should I respond to these … 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 Understanding Different Negotiation Styles

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 How to Handle Difficult Customers

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

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

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 How Mood Affects Negotiators

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

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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

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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