When we think of successful leaders, we typically envision a solitary person—a president, CEO, or entrepreneur—drawing on their vision, charisma, and drive to inspire and direct others. As our world grows increasingly more connected and complex, however, this top-down approach to leadership is becoming increasingly outdated. … Read What Is Collective Leadership?
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 Makes a Great Negotiator?
As much as we would like negotiation to be a science, every great negotiator recognizes that negotiation can equally be an art.
Many people believe that great negotiators are born. While we’re all born with varying abilities for almost any skill, our social environment and education have a tremendous impact on what we achieve. Negotiation professors understand that all students can gain confidence and competence in almost any subject. Unfortunately, the belief that one is either born a great negotiator or not, can stand in the way of learning.
In fact, a focus on great negotiators reveals the constant oscillation of varying negotiation dynamics and the way they require enormous creativity on the part of the negotiators. There is technique and there is art. Almost any great negotiator will share that every experience has an intended outcome perhaps as often as an unintended outcome; your success in one context would have been impossible in a very different context
In discussing the art and science of negotiation, great negotiator Tommy Koh described five “fundamentals” that Program on Negotiation faculty member James K. Sebenius says, “have value in almost any negotiation.”
These “often-neglected” fundamentals include:
- Master your brief.
- Build a talented, happy, and cohesive team.
- Build a common fact base.
- Think outside your own box.
- Think win-win.
Remember, a great negotiator tests intuition against objective data, consults independent advisers, and thinks through the negotiation before taking a place at the table.
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The following items are tagged great negotiator:
No one can provide perspective on conflict resolution like experts who have been involved in some of the world’s most complex negotiations. Since 2001, the Program on Negotiation (PON) has bestowed the Great Negotiator Award upon distinguished leaders whose lifelong accomplishments in the fields of negotiation and dispute resolution have had compelling and lasting results. The Great … Read More
Do you have regrets about the deals that got away? If so, you might be newly motivated by the deal-making process of famed Hollywood movie and television producer Albert S. Ruddy. For 50 years he pursued two pet film projects—each of which finally led to a negotiated agreement and is coming to fruition. … Read The Deal-Making Process: Playing the Long Game
Negotiation as an art and negotiation as a science: Two fundamentally different statements but one cohesive element binds them together – process. … Read More
The Program on Negotiation (PON) at Harvard Law School periodically presents the Great Negotiator Award to an individual whose lifetime achievements in the field of negotiation and dispute resolution have had a significant and lasting impact. In 2022, PON selected Christiana Figueres as the recipient of its Great Negotiator Award for her efforts to build … Read More
Is abrasiveness one of the qualities of a good mediator? That’s the question posed by to Francesca Gino, Tandon Family Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Here is the original question and Dr. Gino’s answer. … Read The Qualities of a Good Mediator: Abrasiveness?
In her book The Mind and Heart of the Negotiator, Leigh Thompson cites four widely held negotiation myths that bar negotiators from improving their skills. This analysis is worth the attention of anyone who wants to move beyond platitudes to a deeper understanding of negotiation. … Read Debunking Negotiation Myths
Imagine that after some negative experiences at the bargaining table or if you are frustrated in your efforts to improve your negotiation skills, you’ve started to worry that you simply don’t have the right personality to be a great negotiator let alone a value-creating, integrative negotiations expert. The other party always seems to get the … Read More
A Q&A with Michael Wheeler, author of The Art of Negotiation: How to Improvise Agreement in a Chaotic World. … Read More
After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, U.S. president George H. W. Bush and his secretary of state, James Baker, were eager to win international support for German reunification and German membership in NATO. But Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev faced strong opposition to these measures from members of his own Communist Party. Both … Read More
To avoid conveying weakness to the other side, rather than calling for a break at the first sign of trouble, some negotiation teams devise secret signals they can use to bring wayward members in line—for instance, someone might stretch out her arms to communicate to another member that he’s getting off track. … Read Team Building Using Negotiation Skills
Check out this freely available video of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and his Peace Advisory Team as they discuss lessons learned from the Colombian peace process negotiations with the FARC guerrillas. The civil war in Colombia lasted 52 years, taking the lives of at least 220,000 people and displacing up to seven million civilians. In … Read Advice for Peace: Ending Civil War in Colombia
Former UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres received the Program on Negotiation’s 2022 Great Negotiator Award. On April 14, 2022, the Program on Negotiation (PON) presented its Great Negotiator Award to Christiana Figueres, formerly the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and one of the architects of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. … Read More
On April 14, the Program on Negotiation presented its 2022 Great Negotiator Award to Costa Rican diplomat Christiana Figueres for her success in spearheading the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. In a daylong series of events, including a public interview led by Harvard Kennedy School professor Hannah Riley Bowles and Harvard Business School professor … Read More
At a Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC) faculty pedagogy seminar, members of the PON faculty and negotiation community gathered to hear Gordon Kaufman (MIT Morris A. Adelman Professor of Management, Emeritus) speak about how he uses quantifiable data to plot student-learning trajectories. The conversation focused on the ongoing debate within the negotiation pedagogy community regarding the way … Read More
Have you planned your curriculum and purchased your teaching material for next semester? We’re here to help you to find the best negotiation exercises and teaching aids for your negotiation classes. … Read More
For 19 years, the Program on Negotiation (PON) at Harvard Law School has grown and thrived under the leadership of Managing Director Susan Hackley. As PON’s chief administrative and financial officer, Hackley has overseen all activities, including academic events, executive education, interdisciplinary programs, and publications, including Negotiation Briefings. Hackley, who has taught negotiation seminars around … Read More
Imagine leading negotiations involving representatives from most of the world’s nations on a contentious topic such as sustainable development. Where would you start? How would you proceed when conflict emerged? How would you know when it was time to wrap things up? … Read More
Following Joe Biden’s election as the next U.S. president, we revisit a 2014 Negotiation Briefings article, “When You’re Negotiating for Someone Else, Stay in the Deal,” about the significant role Biden negotiated for himself as vice president. As vice president to President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017, Joe Biden worked hard to be, in his … Read More
There are good negotiators and there are great ones. Once a year, the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School selects an outstanding individual who embodies what it means to be a truly great negotiator. To earn the Great Negotiator Award, the honoree must be a distinguished leader whose lifelong accomplishments in the field of dispute … Read Negotiation Case Studies: Teach By Example
What’s one of the best ways to teach the art and science of conflict resolution? With negotiation case studies that spark lively discussion or facilitate self-reflection. Based on real-world examples, these teaching resources are designed to help students envision how to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom and beyond. … Read More
Have you been energized by the unique “aha” moment students experience when negotiation videos are used in their class? Us too! … Read Teaching Negotiation Videos – All Downloadable!
During a crisis negotiation, all that may seem to matter is reaching a deal as quickly as possible. The desire to head off a disaster may lead crisis negotiators to forego the usual comforts of life, such as sleep, in their single-minded pursuit of their goal. … Read More
No one can provide perspective on conflict resolution like experts who have been involved in some of the world’s most complex negotiations. Since 2001, the Program on Negotiation (PON) has bestowed the Great Negotiator Award upon distinguished leaders whose lifelong accomplishments in the fields of negotiation and dispute resolution have had compelling and lasting results. The Great … Read Learn from the Best with the Great Negotiator
On May 13, Lakhdar Brahimi, U.N. special envoy to Syria, announced that he was quitting his position as lead mediator of the Syrian conflict due to frustration with a lack of progress. The same day, a French diplomat said the Syrian government had used chemical weapons more than 12 times after signing a treaty banning … Read More
On September 20th, Harvard Law School awarded the prestigious annual Great Negotiator award to Nobel Prize Winner, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, on behalf of the Program on Negotiation. This award recognizes those whose lifetime achievements in the field of negotiation and dispute resolution have had a significant and lasting impact. Santos is also a … Read More
Jim Sebenius, the Gordon Donaldson Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and Director of the Harvard Negotiation Project, addressed these questions in his presentation at the NP@PON Faculty Dinner Seminar on October 7, 2010. His article, “Developing Negotiation Case Studies,” began as a memo to a novice case writer about how to write … Read More
During his years as George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of State, one of James A. Baker, III’s, goals was to encourage the free-market reforms that Communist Party of the Soviet Union General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev had launched in the late 1980s. One day during his tenure, a high-level Bush administration official commented in the press that … Read More
Teaching negotiation using case studies focused on the efforts of great negotiators can help achieve several pedagogical goals at the same time. Developed by Professor James Sebenius of Harvard Business School, the Program on Negotiation’s Great Negotiator case study series, available from the PON Clearinghouse, highlights the lessons learned by each recipient of PON’s Great … Read More
Francesca Gino, Program on Negotiation faculty member and author of the bestselling book, Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed and How We Can Stick to the Plan, tackles this question from a Negotiation Briefings reader concerning how to deal with a mediator that is abrasive, dismissive, or even rude. … Read How to Deal with a Difficult Mediator
What do a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, the CEO of an international financial advisory firm, and the former United States ambassador to the United Nations have in common? They’ve all received the Great Negotiator Award. Every year, the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School bestows this prestigious honor on distinguished leaders whose lifelong accomplishments in … Read More
The PON Film Series is pleased to present: James Baker: The Man Who Made Washington Work
Join us for a screening and discussion with writer and director Eric Stange, moderated by Professor James Sebenius, Harvard Business School Wednesday, March 11, 2015 7:00 PM Langdell Hall South, Harvard Law School Free admission; public welcome. Refreshments will be served. About the film: Narrated by Tom Brokaw, James … Read James Baker: The Man Who Made Washington Work
This program is designed for anyone who teaches negotiation, dispute resolution, or conflict analysis across any field (e.g., law, business, international relations, social work, peace studies, public policy, urban planning, environmental studies, and engineering). Negotiation trainers who provide on-site or online training to business or community clients should also attend so they can evaluate potential new … Read More
As Joe Biden tells it, he never wanted to be vice president. When Barack Obama asked him to consider being vetted as his running mate, Biden declined. Traditionally, the vice presidency was a largely ceremonial position removed from the center of power. Though recent VPs, most notably Dick Cheney, had changed that, Biden, as a longtime … Read Stay “in the deal”
Program on Negotiation and Harvard Kennedy School’s Future of Diplomacy Project Great Negotiator award winner for 2014, Singaporean diplomat Tommy Koh, wrote an article about his experience winning the Great Negotiator award from Harvard University and the insights into negotiation he offered while honored here in Cambridge, Massachusetts. … Read More
Join us for a conversation with Ambassador Tommy Koh of Singapore, the recipient of the 2014 Great Negotiator Award. This public program will feature panel discussions with Ambassador Koh and faculty from the Program on Negotiation and the Future of Diplomacy Project. The award recognizes Ambassador Koh for his work as chief negotiator for the … Read More
The Program on Negotiation, an inter-university consortium of Harvard, MIT, and Tufts, and Harvard’s Future of Diplomacy Project have named Ambassador Tommy Koh of Singapore the recipient of the 2014 Great Negotiator Award. In public events at Harvard planned for the afternoon of Thursday, April 10, 2014 (details to be announced), participants will honor Koh’s … Read More
Founded in 1983, the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School is a pioneer in the fields of negotiation, mediation, and alternative dispute resolution. In commemoration of the program’s 30th anniversary this year, the Program on Negotiation is proud to present a video describing many of PON’s various educational and research activities. According to Chair Robert Mnookin, … Read More
Great Negotiator Award winner and former United States trade representative (1997-2001) to Japan and China, Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky visited Harvard Law School to speak with students in HLS Clinical Professor Robert Bordone’s Advanced Negotiations Workshop course on October 3. … Read More
The Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, in conjunction with the Future of Diplomacy Project at Harvard Kennedy School, honored distinguished statesman and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III as the recipient of their Great Negotiator Award for 2012. Secretary Baker served under President George H.W. Bush from 1989 to 1992. A … Read Great Negotiator Award 2012
In her book, The Mind and Heart of the Negotiator, Leigh Thompson cites four widely held myths that bar negotiators from improving their skills. This analysis is worth the attention of anyone who wants to move beyond platitudes to a deeper understanding of negotiation. Myth 1: Great negotiators are born. While we’re all born with varying abilities … Read Negotiation Myths, Exposed
The Program on Negotiation (PON) at Harvard Law School and the Future of Diplomacy Project at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) will jointly honor former U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker, III with the 2012 Great Negotiator Award on Thursday, March 29, 2012, at the Ames Courtroom, Austin Hall, Harvard Law School. The Great Negotiator Award … Read More
2012 Great Negotiator Event honoring
James A. Baker, III Thursday, March 29, 2012, 1:30 – 4:30 p.m. Ames Courtroom, Austin Hall, Harvard Law School This event is free and open to the public. Join former Secretary of State James A. Baker, III as he discusses with faculty his most challenging negotiations, including the efforts that resulted in the Madrid Conference, the … Read More
Former Ambassador Richard Holbrooke was awarded the Program on Negotiation’s Great Negotiator Award in 2004. In remarks given during the award ceremony, he shared his recollections of an “incredibly intense” Christmas Eve negotiation in 1999. The United States owed the United Nations almost 1.5 billion dollars. The UN was about to take away the right … Read More
The Middle East Negotiation Initiative at PON invites you to a panel discussion on The Gilad Shalit-Palestinian prisoners exchange: the process, deal and implications November 7, 2011 • 12:15 – 2 p.m. Pound 100 • Harvard Law School Please bring your lunch. Drinks and cookies will be served. PANELISTS Robert H. Mnookin is the Samuel Williston Professor of Law at Harvard … Read More
On September 27, 2010, the Program on Negotiation presented former President of Finland the Great Negotiator Award. This video shows a portion of the event, including part of a discussion with President Ahtisaari regarding the final status for Kosovo.
To learn more about the Great Negotiator Award, click here. To see more PON negotiation videos, click here. … Read Video: 2010 Great Negotiator Martti Ahtisaari
PON Chair Robert Mnookin suggests 2010 Great Negotiator Martti Ahtisaari as a possible international mediator who may be able to help solve the ongoing conflict in Belgium. Professor Mnookin notes that bringing in an outside mediator can help avoid “reactive devaluation,” or the devaluing of a possible solution simply because it was suggested by an … Read More
In 2004, the Program on Negotiation selected Ambassador Richard Holbrooke as the recipient of its Great Negotiator Award. “He was an outstanding and entrepreneurial diplomat, and we are so sorry to learn of his sudden death,” said Professor Robert H. Mnookin, Chair of the Program on Negotiation. “During the day Richard Holbrooke spent with us, … Read More
The Program on Negotiation’s 2010 Great Negotiator Award was given to former Finnish President, Martti Ahtisaari, for his many significant achievements in the fields of negotiation and diplomacy. He was central to the Namibian independence negotiations in the late 1980s. He also served as chief United Nations negotiator to Kosovo from 2005-2006, and was instrumental … Read More
President Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland and Nobel Peace Prize Recipient, was presented the Great Negotiator Award by the Program on Negotiation and the Future of Diplomacy Project yesterday. To read more about the event in the Harvard Crimson, click here. … Read More
The Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School Will Honor Former President of Finland Martti Ahtisaari with the 2010 Great Negotiator Award Co-sponsored with the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Harvard Kennedy School, the Great Negotiator Event Offers Real-World Negotiation Discussion to All Students For Immediate Release CAMBRIDGE, MA (September 21, 2010) The Program on Negotiation … Read More
Drafts of the case studies of President Martti Ahtisaari’s work in Aceh and Kosovo are available for review in order to prepare for this year’s Great Negotiator discussion. A Nobel Peace Prize recipient (2008) and former President of Finland (1994-2000), Martti Ahtisaari will be honored with the 2010 Great Negotiator Award by the Program on Negotiation … Read Great Negotiator Schedule Announced
On September 27, 2010, Nobel Peace Prize recipient (2008) and former President of Finland (1994-2000) Martti Ahtisaari will be honored with the 2010 Great Negotiator Award by the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School and the Future of Diplomacy Project. Martti Ahtisaari will participate in a faculty led discussion in Spangler Auditorium at Harvard … Read The 2010 Great Negotiator
“The Program on Negotiation is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jeanne-Claude, half of the dynamic and brilliant artistic partnership of Christo and Jeanne-Claude,” commented Robert H. Mnookin, Chair of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. “In September 2008, we honored Christo and Jeanne-Claude as the Program on Negotiation’s “Great Negotiators”. … Read More
The Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School was saddened to learn of the death of Bruce Wasserstein, PON’s 2007 Great Negotiator. The Great Negotiator Award is given to recognize an individual whose lifetime achievements in the field of negotiation and dispute resolution have had a significant and lasting impact. Wasserstein, Chairman and CEO of … Read More
Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi (middle) with James Sebenius (left) and Jeswald Salacuse at Harvard Business School on October 2, 2002
The Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School is pleased to announce that the recipient of the 2002 Great Negotiator Award is Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy to Afghanistan. Ambassador Brahimi is a … Read Brahimi Receives 2002 Great Negotiator Award
Charlene Barshefsky, US Trade Representative in the second Clinton administration, will receive this year’s Great Negotiator Award next month. The award is presented annually by the Program on Negotiation to an individual whose lifetime achievements advance negotiation and dispute resolution. Professor Frank Sander of the PON Steering Committee said on behalf PON that “We are … Read Barshefsky Awarded 2001 Great Negotiator
On April 7, 2000, the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School honored former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell with the first Great Negotiator Award. Mitchell was recognized for his role as a master coalition builder at home and abroad. Under his leadership the governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom and the political parties of … Read More