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.


business negotiation skills

What are Business Negotiation Skills?

It’s often said that great leaders are great negotiators. That’s one reason that improving your business negotiation skills is so important. 

Our business negotiation skills can help us reach a win-win negotiation where both sides are satisfied with their agreement, and the odds of a long-lasting and successful business partnership are much higher. Those skills may include anything from how you prepare for a negotiation to how you frame the deal to more subtle skills, such as how well negotiators’ personalities complement one another. 

Some more “concrete” business negotiation skills that we can learn or improve upon include construction of a strong BATNA, or best alternative to a negotiated agreement, understanding the power of MESOs, or multiple equivalent simultaneous offers, and thorough preparation, not to mention familiarity with laws, ethics, and structuring a solid agreement. 

One of the business negotiation skills that is often overlooked is an understanding of fairness when negotiating. Psychologist David Messick has found that people commonly choose among fairness norms based on their self-serving desire for more. That is, our greed determines how we define fairness in a given situation. 

Of all the business negotiation skills, however, one of the most important is looking for a win-win outcome. Consider that people tend to view negotiation as a competition between parties fighting over the biggest piece of a “fixed pie.” Even when negotiators prefer the same outcome, they tend to believe that the other side’s interests are opposed to their own. 

But in a win-win negotiation, when both sides are satisfied with their agreement, the odds of a long-lasting success are much higher. Finding your way to a win-win negotiation often involves reaching mutual gains by trading off your differing preferences to create value.

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.

The following items are tagged business negotiation skills:

Using Business Negotiation Skills To Move a Deal in your Favor

Posted by PON Staff & filed under Salary Negotiations.

Performers have increasingly learned business negotiation skills and played an outsized role in shaping plays and musicals vying for a Broadway stage. In 2016, the original off-Broadway cast of Hamilton negotiated with the show’s producers to acknowledge their contributions to the hit musical by guaranteeing them a small share of the show’s profits. With other actors … Read More 

NEW FREE REPORT! Salary Negotiations

Posted by PON Staff & filed under Free Report.

Discover how to refine your negotiation skills with this free special report, Negotiation Training: How Harvard Negotiation Exercises, Negotiation Cases and Good Negotiation Coaching Can Make You a Better Negotiator, from Harvard Law School. … Read More 

Framing in Negotiation

Posted by Katie Shonk & filed under Business Negotiations.

So, you’ve offered what you think is a great deal, but your counterpart doesn’t seem to agree. What’s the problem? The offer may be excellent—it’s how you’ve approached framing in negotiation that’s holding you back. … Read More 

Writing the Negotiated Agreement

Posted by Guhan Subramanian & filed under Dealmaking.

Some negotiations end with a negotiated agreement that is a plan of action rather than a signed contract – for example, a plumber agrees to fix the tile damage caused by his work. Other negotiations wouldn’t be appropriate to commemorate in writing, such as how you and your spouse decide to discipline your young … Read More 

Contract Negotiations and Business Communication: How to Write an Iron-Clad Contract

Posted by PON Staff & filed under Business Negotiations.

In contract negotiations, writing a contract that both encapsulates the negotiated agreement but also incorporates future elements such as the business relationship and the sustainability of the agreement can be a daunting task for even the most experienced negotiators. Executives often leave the legal issues surrounding their deals to their attorneys. While this division of … Read More 

Dear Negotiation Coach: What Are Business Negotiation Skills for Entrepreneurs?

Posted by PON Staff & filed under Teaching Negotiation.

To get an idea or innovation off the ground takes strong business negotiation skills as an entrepreneur. Yet, in their book Entrepreneurial Negotiation: Understanding and Managing the Relationships that Determine Your Entrepreneurial Success (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2018), Program on Negotiation instructor Samuel Dinnar and MIT professor Lawrence Susskind write that many entrepreneurs are falling short. Here, Susskind explains … Read More 

For Price Negotiators, Preparation is the Key to Success

Posted by Katie Shonk & filed under Dealmaking.

Some cultures have a long tradition of haggling—bargaining back and forth about the price of an item—in markets and bazaars. By contrast, in the United States and many other countries, haggling between buyers and sellers is an under-practiced skill. You might routinely pass up opportunities to haggle in situations where financial negotiations are not the … Read More 

5 Win-Win Negotiation Strategies

Posted by Katie Shonk & filed under Win-Win Negotiations.

Business negotiators understand the importance of reaching a win-win negotiation: when both sides are satisfied with their agreement, the odds of a long-lasting and successful business partnership are much higher. But concrete strategies for generating a win-win contract often seem elusive. The following five, from experts at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, … Read More 

In Business Negotiations, Capitalize on a Right of First Refusal

Posted by Katie Shonk & filed under Business Negotiations.

As dealmakers look for more sophisticated ways to reduce risks and increase returns, a right of first refusal—a contractual guarantee that one side can match any offer that the other side later receives—has become a common and useful tool to add to your business negotiation skills.

Claim your FREE copy: Negotiation Skills

Build powerful negotiation skills and become a better dealmaker and leader. Download 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.

When the mergers-and-acquisitions (M&A) boom began in 1993, many deals … Read More