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.


destructive competition

What is Destructive Competition?

Destructive competition is, unfortunately, all too common in negotiation. However, it’s also very easy to avoid if we take the right steps.

First offers are a common trigger of destructive competition in negotiation. As many negotiators are aware, even an extreme or arbitrary first offer tends to pull counteroffers in its direction. Fearful of being taken advantage of, offer recipients often devalue their counterpart’s first offer, make aggressive counteroffers that are likely to be rejected, or walk away from the bargaining table. As such, first offers often get a negotiation off to a competitive start and stall or block the process of value creation.

It’s not just first offers, though. Often, destructive competition is triggered by single-issue negotiations where we want a “fair” outcome. Fairness concerns, which are often paramount for negotiators, can overshadow objective outcomes in our minds. But fairness judgments tend to be heavily influenced by our preferred outcome. For example, when two partners are dividing up a business, the partner who invested more money will probably believe she deserves a larger share of the pie—and so will the partner who invested more time. Consciously or not, we determine our preferences and then justify them on the basis of fairness.

This egocentrism is a key contributor to destructive competition.

One very simple way to avoid this problem is through making multiple equivalent simultaneous offers, or MESOs. 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.

To learn more, you can download a complimentary copy of our special report, Business Negotiation Strategies: How to Negotiate Better Business Deals, right now!

We will send you a download link to your copy of the report and notify you by email when we post new business negotiation advice and information on how to improve your dealmaking skills to our website.

The following items are tagged destructive competition:

10 Notable Negotiations of 2020

Posted by Katie Shonk & filed under Daily.

If there’s one thing that negotiators have practiced this year, it’s thinking on their feet. As our 10 notable negotiations of 2020 illustrate, the coronavirus pandemic left individuals, businesses, nonprofits, and governments trying to replace outmoded plans with more workable alternatives.  10 Notable Negotiations of 2020 10. Struggling to play ball. This year, sports leagues scrambled to … Read More 

Managing the “Negotiator’s Dilemma” with Multiple Equivalent Simultaneous Offers

Posted by PON Staff & filed under Negotiation Skills.

Today we’ll talk about multiple equivalent simultaneous offers, or MESOs. Consider the following two perspectives on negotiation:

Following the finalization of a new trade agreement among Canada, Mexico, and the United States, Enrique Peña Nieto, then the president of Mexico, said on September 3, 2018, that the agreement “achieves what we proposed at the start: a … Read More 

Combatting COVID-19 with Common Interests

Posted by Katie Shonk & filed under Crisis Negotiations.

As nations rush to slow the COVID-19 pandemic, treat victims of the virus, and develop cures, they face strong motivations to cooperate with one another rather than compete. Scientists and technical experts can help spearhead this collaboration, said Professor Paul Berkman, director of Tufts University’s Science Diplomacy Center, during a March 26 online talk hosted … Read More