Back on July 11, 2000, U.S. president Bill Clinton welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat to a summit at Camp David aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once and for all. The summit covered various contentious issues, including territory, settlements, security, and the status of refugees. After about two weeks, … Read More
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.
What is a Fixed Pie in Negotiations?
In many negotiations, the mythical “fixed pie” mindset leads us to interpret the competitive situations as purely win-lose.
One of the most destructive assumptions we bring to negotiations is the assumption that there is a fixed pie of resources. For those negotiators who recognize opportunities to grow the pie of value through mutually beneficial tradeoffs among issues, the complexity of such integrative negotiations is an asset. Tradeoffs allow you and your negotiating partner to achieve more than you would if you merely compromised on each issue.
Once negotiators have broken the assumption of a mythical fixed pie, the search for value can begin. To create value, you need to learn about the other party’s interests and preferences.
Begin with a thorough preparation for negotiation, including reaching an accurate understanding of the zone of possible agreement, or ZOPA, in business.
Your ZOPA analysis should begin with a consideration of your best alternative to a negotiated agreement, or BATNA. BATNA analysis helps you determine each party’s reservation point, or walk away point, in your negotiation. If there is a set of resolutions that both parties would prefer over the impasse, then a ZOPA exists, and it would be optimal for you to reach a settlement.
When we move beyond the fixed pie mindset, we avoid the need to make costly compromises by capitalizing on what each party values most. Great negotiators understand that the more issues they add to the negotiation, the more money they are likely to make. In the vast majority of negotiations, it’s simply not true that “what’s good for them is bad for me,” and vice versa. When we see the flaws in this win-lose attitude, we open up new possibilities to create and claim value.
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.
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In this Special Report, we offer advice from the world of sports, taken from the Negotiation newsletter, to help you navigate your most important negotiations. You will learn to get your head in the game, manage team dynamics, and get a competitive edge. … Read More
What’s the best way to claim more money in a negotiation? Many professional negotiators would recommend hard-bargaining tactics, such as asking the other party to disclose their bottom line, standing firm on price, and threatening to walk away. But truly great negotiators recognize that using haggling strategies alone may leave significant money on the table. … Read More
In business negotiation, two polar-opposite errors are common: reaching agreement when it wouldn’t be wise to do so, and walking away from a mutually beneficial outcome. How can you avoid these pitfalls? Through careful preparation that includes an analysis of the zone of possible agreement, or ZOPA in business negotiations. … Read More
“Winging it” is a fine approach to life’s minor decisions, but when you negotiate, it can be disastrous. Follow these three preparation steps and improve your agreements. … Read More
At the negotiation table, what’s the best way to uncover your negotiation counterpart’s hidden interests? Build a relationship in negotiation by asking questions, then listening carefully. Even if you have decided to make the first offer and are ready with a number of alternatives, you should always open by asking and listening to assess your … Read More
A reservation point negotiation is a bargaining scenario in which each side is trying to reconcile the other’s highest offer and the other’s lowest price. This negotiation example can apply to many other bargaining situations and demonstrates the value of open communication with your counterpart at the negotiation table. … Read More
Creating value is the name of the game in integrative negotiations but these principles can also apply to the highly competitive realm of business negotiations. In the business world, why is competition so often the norm, while cooperation seems like an impossible goal? … Read More
When it comes to great business negotiation strategies, there’s no better example than the cast of Friends in their heyday. David Schwimmer, the actor who played Ross on the hit NBC sitcom Friends, famously convinced the show’s five other leads in the early years of its run to negotiate their contracts with NBC as a team. … Read More
Typically, when parties are negotiating over a resource they both desire – whether fees, budgets, salaries, schedules, or staff – the process results in an uninspired compromise somewhere between their positions. Is it possible to avoid a compromise when negotiating tough distributive issues. … Read More
Negotiators seeking to break through the mythical fixed-pie mindset can try the following three proven strategies, suggested by Max Bazerman for finding mutually beneficial tradeoffs. … Read More
Consider negotiation questions you might overhear in a typical business negotiation: ■ “ You want how much for that order?” ■ “Can you see what an excellent offer this is?” ■ “Are you ready to take this deal, yes or no?” It’s not difficult to see the limitations of these negotiation questions. The first one is likely to promote … Read More
In these difficult times, many of us are thinking about how to help make the world better, including in our negotiations. The good news is that we can do so without huge sacrifices, writes Max H. Bazerman, the Jesse Isidor Straus Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, in his new book, Better, Not … Read More
Even those who effectively engage in an integrative negotiations or mutual-gains approach to negotiation, a bargaining scenario in which parties work together to meet interests and maximize value creation during the negotiation process, can be stymied by the task of dividing up a seemingly fixed pie of resources, such as budgets, revenue, and time. … Read More
So, you’re thinking about taking a negotiation course but are not sure if it will be worthwhile. Or maybe you attended one recently (or not so recently) and are wondering whether you are effectively applying what you’ve learned to the negotiations in your business and personal life. Unfortunately, even after the best negotiation training courses, many … Read More
How do you teach your students to identify and create value in real estate negotiations? Real estate negotiation can be difficult for both the buyer and the seller. Teaching real estate negotiation can involve value creation, distributive bargaining, as well as issue linkages. It is important for both buyers, sellers, and agents to identify ways to … Read More
If you needed a lawyer to help you settle a business dispute, would you prefer (a) one who was completely partisan toward your point of view or (b) one who saw both sides of the conflict? You might assume that the partisan lawyer would work harder for you than someone who sees things from both sides’ … Read More
In the past we have encouraged you to ‘debias’ your own behavior by identifying the assumptions that may be clouding your judgment. We have introduced you to a number of judgment biases – common, systematic errors in thinking that are likely to affect your decisions and harm your outcomes in negotiation. Learn how to identify … Read More
We tend to view job negotiations as battles over a fixed pie of resources: A higher salary for the employee means lower profits for the employer. More vacation time equals lowered productivity, and so on. … Read More
Program on Negotiation faculty members Jeswald Salacuse, Deborah Kolb, and William Ury were named by Time magazine as the authors of three of the five best negotiation books of 2015. Jeswald Salacuse’s latest work, The Global Negotiator: Making, Managing and Mending Deals Around the World in the Twenty-First Century, describes the negotiation skills people need to succeed … Read More
Feeling ambivalent in negotiation? No worries Business negotiators often find themselves feeling positive and negative emotions simultaneously, such as concern that an offer won’t be received well and excitement over the offer’s potential. We often try to squelch our emotions for fear of appearing unstable or vulnerable. Indeed, past research has suggested that expressions of emotional ambivalence—the signs … Read More
Roger Fisher, co-founder of the Program on Negotiation and the Harvard Negotiation Project, died on August 25 at age 90. A true pioneer and leader, he helped launch a new way of thinking about negotiation, and he worked tirelessly to help people deal productively with conflict. “Through his writing and teaching, Roger Fisher’s seminal contributions literally … Read More
Adapted from “When Tough Talk Is Beside the Point,” by Hal Movius (instructor, The Program on Technology Negotiation, Program on Negotiation, Harvard Law School), first published in the Negotiation newsletter. Most of us intuitively believe that personality traits such as toughness matter a great deal in negotiation. Yet studies by Bruce Barry and Raymond Friedman of … Read More