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.


hard bargaining tactics

What are Hard Bargaining Tactics?

Many professional negotiators recommend hard-bargaining tactics. But truly great negotiators recognize that approach may leave significant money on the table.

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 can be achieved in most business negotiations. 

Negotiators often come to the table with the assumption that the pie of resources is fixed. The mythical-fixed-pie mindset leads us to view most competitive situations as purely win-lose. 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.

To prevent your negotiation from disintegrating into hard-bargaining tactics, you first need to make a commitment not to engage in these tactics yourself. Remember that there are typically better ways of meeting your goals, such as building trust, asking lots of questions, and exploring differences.

Extreme demands followed up by small, slow concessions is perhaps the most common of all hard-bargaining tactics. This protects dealmakers from making concessions too quickly. However, it can keep parties from making a deal and unnecessarily drag out business negotiations. To head off this tactic, have a clear sense of your own goals, best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA), and bottom line – and don’t be rattled by an aggressive opponent.

To learn more and discover how to boost your power at the bargaining table, download this free special report, BATNA Basics: Boost Your Power at the Bargaining Table, from Harvard Law School.

The following items are tagged hard bargaining tactics:

Harvard Negotiation Master Class: Advanced Strategies for Experienced Negotiators – November 16-18, 2021

Posted by & filed under Harvard Negotiation Master Class.

Strictly limited to 60 participants who have completed a prior course in negotiation, this first-of-its-kind program offers unprecedented access to experts from Harvard Law School, Harvard Business School, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—all of whom are committed to delivering a transformational learning experience. By working closely with them, you will: … Read More 

Dear Negotiation Coach: Managing Perceptions

Posted by & filed under BATNA.

Sometimes a negotiation is all about managing perceptions. As this story below shows, focusing a counterpart on his own BATNA can persuade him to reduce the intensity of his hard-bargaining tactics. Q: A customer is pressuring me to make a deal fast. I don’t want to be forced into a one-sided agreement and prefer to reach … Read More 

Negotiation Workshop: Improving Your Negotiating Effectiveness

Posted by & filed under Harvard Negotiation Institute, Harvard Negotiation Institute (Five-Day Programs).

Course Dates: This course is closed Too many negotiators leave value on the table. They painfully divide a small pie after a costly battle while failing to capture offsetting opportunities for joint gain, or win the battle, but at the cost to relationships and reputation that limit long-term value. Reliably negotiating optimal outcomes requires a keen … Read More 

Why Great Negotiators Earn More Money

Posted by & filed under Salary Negotiations.

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 

Negotiation Workshop: Strategies, Tools, and Skills for Success

Posted by & filed under Harvard Negotiation Institute, Harvard Negotiation Institute (Five-Day Programs).

Course Dates: This course is closed Turn disputes into deals. Transform deals into better deals. Resolve intractable problems. Negotiating effectively requires the ability to change the game – moving away from conflict and toward collaboration. In this intensive, interactive program, you acquire a proven framework for maximizing the value of your negotiation. … Read More 

Bargaining in Bad Faith: Dealing with “False Negotiators”

Posted by & filed under Dealing with Difficult People.

We tend to forget—at our peril—that not everyone at the bargaining table wants to close a deal and may be bargaining in bad faith. Consider the following negotiations:

A competitor approaches you about a potential partnership. After a series of meetings that seemed promising, however, your counterpart stops returning your calls. You are left with the nagging … Read More 

Six Guidelines for “Getting to Yes”

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

In their revolutionary book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In (Penguin, 3rd edition, 2011), Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton introduced the world to the possibilities of mutual-gains negotiation, or integrative negotiation. The authors of Getting to Yes explained that negotiators don’t have to choose between either waging a strictly competitive, win-lose … Read More 

Negotiation Skills for Win-Win Negotiations

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

A few characteristics of negotiation styles include hard bargaining tactics focused on claiming as much value as possible and integrative negotiation strategies such as value creation or win-win negotiation scenarios. What negotiation styles leads to optimal negotiated agreements and are suitable to win-win negotiations? One skill to cultivate that will have a positive impact on … Read More 

Hardball Tactics in Negotiation Increase with Rivalry

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

Coke vs. Pepsi. Clinton vs. Trump. Apple vs. Samsung. The New York Yankees vs. the Boston Red Sox. Whether we work in business, politics, sports, or another arena, our competitors sometimes turn into fierce rivals. In addition, many sales, legal, and financial firms structure jobs, incentives, and promotion systems in ways that pit employees against one … Read More 

Negotiation Strategies for Dealing with Spoilers

Posted by & filed under BATNA.

Amazon’s announcement on February 14 that it was backing out of a recent deal to build a major new campus in New York City was as bitter as a Valentine’s Day breakup could be. But the budding relationship between Amazon and New York didn’t have to end in acrimony and broken dreams, Harvard Business School … Read More 

Dealing with Difficult People – In and Outside of Congress

Posted by & filed under Dealing with Difficult People.

In business negotiations, we sometimes face the task of dealing with difficult people—those who seem to pick fights, hold offensive views, or rely on hard-bargaining tactics. Some of us naturally turn away from such difficult negotiations. Others choose to try to overlook or overcome the flaws they see in potential negotiating partners. … Read More 

Entrepreneurs: Prepare to overcome key negotiation challenges

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Briefings Articles, Negotiation Skills.

Start-ups and individual entrepreneurs often encounter roadblocks when negotiating with potential partners and investors. When you are trying to sell others on your big idea or venture, you face the daunting challenge of convincing them that it’s worth their time, money, and effort. And even as you’re drawing on all your powers of persuasion to … Read More 

Working on multiple deals? Look for ways to connect the dots

Posted by & filed under Dealmaking.

In negotiation, lightbulb moments—the kind that seem to magically dissolve disputes and create stellar contracts—can be few and far between. We might be lucky to have one such flash of insight over the course of a complicated dealmaking process. Recently, Major League Baseball’s (MLB’s) New York Yankees were fortunate to experience a breakthrough that neatly … Read More 

Conflict Management: Becoming a Team Player

Posted by & filed under Conflict Resolution.

Show me the money!” That refrain from the 1996 movie Jerry Maguire, shouted by a football player to his agent, continues to echo through U.S. professional sports negotiations today. A public arena, enormous piles of cash, and even bigger egos combine to make sports negotiations a unique context. Yet anyone who has negotiated through agents, … Read More