In the business world, some negotiators always seem to get what they want, while others more often tend to come up short. What might make some people better negotiators than others? The answer may be in part that people bring different negotiation styles and strategies to the bargaining table, based on their different personalities, experiences, … Read
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 Harvard Kennedy School—all of whom are committed to delivering a transformational learning experience.
Over the years thousands of professionals have participated in negotiation programs at the Program on Negotiation (PON) at Harvard Law School. And after a few months or years of putting their negotiation skills and techniques to work, participants inevitably ask us, what’s next?
At the time, it seemed to be an example of coolheaded dealmaking in the midst of disaster. In 2009, hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis and changes in consumer preferences, U.S. automaker Chrysler was on the brink of collapse, and the Treasury Department stepped in to do a deal. In exchange for about $12 … Read
Join Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino as she shares her research findings into what causes us to become sidetracked in negotiations—and provides a proven framework for effective decision-making.
It’s often said that great leaders are great negotiators. But how does one become an effective negotiator? On-the-job experience certainly plays a role, but for most executives, taking their negotiation skills to the next level requires outside training.
For women negotiating salary, a stubborn statistic has persisted for decades: They earn significantly less than men. In 2017, the average woman took home only about 82 cents for every dollar earned by a man, according to the Pew Research Center. Women are also much less likely than men to be found in top leadership … Read
Bonus day for May Negotiation and Leadership program.
In this one-day program, based on his acclaimed book, Negotiating the Impossible: How to Break Deadlocks and Resolve Ugly Conflicts (Without Money or Muscle), Malhotra identifies principles for breaking impasses and resolving conflicts when things seem impossible, and provides scores of actionable lessons from behind-the-scenes stories of fascinating … Read
It’s often said that great leaders are great negotiators. But how does one become an effective negotiator? On-the-job experience certainly plays a role, but for most executives, taking their negotiation skills to the next level requires outside training.
It’s important to educate yourself about your counterpart’s culture so that you don’t risk offending her or seeming unprepared. At the same time, it would be a mistake to focus too narrowly when preparing for cross-cultural communication in business. Research on international negotiation can help us think more broadly when it comes to managing cultural … Read
Real-life conflict scenarios can keep groups from being effective. But at a press conference on March 6, Trump suggested that any conflict within the White House has been beneficial: “I like conflict. I like having two people with different points of view, and I certainly have that, and I make a decision. But I like … Read
There are many business negotiation examples involving auctions. Suppose you’ve weighed the pros and cons of selling an asset via auction or negotiation and decided an auction is the best choice. What kind of auction should it be?
Though we’re often advised against mixing friends and business, it’s not only inevitable at times; it can also be beneficial to everyone involved. The key is to negotiate in a way that ensures a win win relationship between parties, and in bigger business deals, that may include seeking outside help.
We connected with Guhan Subramanian, Joseph … Read
When we think about our own ethics in negotiation, we tend to focus on the ethical and legal lines we may be at risk of crossing through our actions. We often fail to consider how we could end up enabling the unethical and even illegal behavior of our negotiation counterparts and partners.
More broadly, we have … Read
While many of our articles discuss negotiation theory and the latest research, sometimes it helps to discuss negotiation examples in real life when offering negotiation tips and advice. The following negotiation example is based on bargaining in real estate, a negotiation scenario many of us may face in our lifetime.
When an important negotiation is looming, “winging it” is never the answer. The best negotiators engage in thorough negotiation preparation. That means taking plenty of time to analyze what you want, your bargaining position, and the other side’s likely wants and alternatives.
When we negotiate for others, managing expectations is often part of our job, especially if they aren’t familiar with the sometimes complex nature of negotiations. Similarly, we may find it necessary to deal with the expectations of our counterparts. However, it’s easy to overlook the fact that we have expectations of our own that we … Read
Question: Lately I have been hearing a lot—both in the news and on the job—about companies using contingencies in contracts. Given that I sometimes negotiate deals that entail a lot of risk regarding how future events will play out, I am interested to know how contingencies work and how I might use them.
Many U.S. law schools are in crisis, to hear some tell it. During the recent recession, many law firms instituted mass layoffs and pay cuts, and few have fully recovered. As a result, college graduates are thinking twice about becoming lawyers, and many law schools have fewer high-quality applicants to choose from. In the past … Read
If your current negotiation reaches an impasse, what’s your best outside option? Most seasoned negotiators understand the value of evaluating their BATNA, or best alternative to a negotiated agreement, a concept that Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton introduced in their seminal book, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In (Penguin, 1991, second … Read
Negotiators are often so intent on preparing for the substance of a negotiation—researching the other party, analyzing their alternatives, and so on—that they neglect to devote adequate time to critical negotiation logistics, such as where to negotiate, how formal or informal talks should be, and even the shape of the negotiating table.
Before the official start … Read
In a hot real estate market, sellers may find themselves determining the best way to engage in an early offer negotiation. We asked Leslie John, the Marvin Bower Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, to answer a question regarding this topic.
Q: I’m selling my house in a seller’s market. As is the … Read
In most negotiations, we face two goals: claiming value and creating value. Value can be defined as anything you would like to get out a negotiation, whether it be more dollars, a consulting contract, a new rug, an end to conflict, and so on.
If you negotiate regularly on the job, you probably have engaged in multiple business negotiations with counterparts from other cultures. Negotiating across cultural barriers can significantly expand your organization’s reach and bring great rewards. Yet negotiating cross-culturally also can pose challenges, such as these.
How can you use your leadership skills in negotiation to divide the pie of resources with those that helped you grow it in the first place? In this negotiation case study, Kevin Mohan, Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School examines how executives can expand the pie while helping those who contribute claim equitable value.
Most negotiations call for very different, even opposing, skills: collaboration and competition. To get a great deal, we typically must work with others to find new sources of value while also competing with them to claim as much of that value for ourselves. Before mastering the intricacies of value creation in negotiation, it helps to … Read
As we’ve discussed in previous articles about negotiation examples in business, a negotiator’s beliefs concerning negotiation ethics are affected by cognitive biases. You probably can recall times when a negotiating opponent made what appeared to be a blatant misstatement. If you’re like most people, you assumed the person was lying to gain an advantage.
Vividness bias is the tendency to overweight the vivid and prestigious attributes of a decision, such as salary or an employer’s status, and underweight less impressive issues, such as location or rapport with colleagues. Let’s talk about a clear vividness bias example from 2015 in Major League Baseball.
For the New York Mets, it was hard … Read
What are the best negotiation examples from real life? Imagine that you’ve been negotiating the sale of a property that is owned by your company. The buyer has made an attractive offer that you’ve tentatively accepted. Your boss is pleased with the terms as they stand, but suggests that you go back to the buyer … Read
While hammering out an agreement during negotiation, a mid-level manager offered a customer a significant price discount. When the discount failed to materialize, the customer sued. In response, company representatives argued that the manager did not have the authority to offer the discount. Who is right?
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
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.
Negotiators often fail to recognize when it’s time to walk away from a negotiation dispute – a trap that can squander time, money, and reputations. Receive tens of millions of dollars in a mediated settlement, and you might rightly think you scored a victory.
MESO negotiation, a negotiation strategy for creating value with a counterpart who may be reluctant to negotiate, allows negotiators to propose multiple offers without signaling commitment or preference for any one option. Business negotiators that practice integrative negotiation strategies often complain that although they try to focus on creating value, they run into far too many difficult … Read
Some of our most heated negotiations and disputes involve value conflict over our core values, such as our personal moral standards, our religious and political beliefs, and our family’s welfare.
Consider these value conflict examples:
Business partners clash over the ethical standards they expect each other to uphold.
A negotiator refuses to do business with a potential counterpart … Read
A medical facility might not be the first place you think of for effective leadership in a negotiation. But that’s precisely what took place between a doctor and his patients. At Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York City, a leading cancer research and treatment institution, doctors often will advise men who are … Read
After recently losing an important deal in India, a business negotiator learned that her counterpart felt as if she had been rushing through the talks. The business negotiator thought she was being efficient with their time. In this useful cross-cultural conflict negotiation example, how should this negotiator improve her negotiation skills?
Whether a conflict erupts at work or at home, we frequently fall back on the tendency to try to correct the other person or group’s perceptions, lecturing them about why we’re right—and they’re wrong. Deep down, we know that this conflict management approach usually fails to resolve the conflict and often only makes it worse.
To guard against acting irrationally or in ways that can harm you, authors of Beyond Reason: Using Emotions As You Negotiate Roger Fisher and Daniel Shapiro advise you to take your emotional temperature during a negotiation. Specifically, try to gauge whether your emotions are manageable, starting to heat up, or threatening to boil over.
It had seemed like the beginning of a fruitful relationship. In April 2012, six wealthy businessmen teamed up to buy the Philadelphia Inquirer and several affiliated businesses for $61.1 million, promising to work together to reverse the newspaper’s flagging fortunes. Their infusions of cash and appointment of a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter, William K. Marimow, as … Read
An excerpt from PON faculty member Francesca Gino’s book Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed, and How We Can Stick to the Plan discusses the importance of staying on target in negotiations whether personal or business in nature.
In business negotiation, a win-win agreement may be the ultimate goal, but it can sometimes prove elusive. Here, we offer four strategies from experts at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School on how to create win-win situations in even the trickiest negotiations.
In our negotiations, we all regularly cope with counterparts who try too hard—such as salespeople who pester us with phone calls or show up at our office or home unannounced. Their desperation to reach a deal comes through loud and clear, making them seem not only annoying but also potentially ripe for exploitation. At the … Read
Sometimes our negotiation mistakes are glaring: We accidentally reveal our bottom line, criticize the other party when patience was warranted, or get our numbers mixed up. More often, though, our negotiation mistakes are invisible: We get a perfectly good deal, but are unaware that we could have gotten a better one if we hadn’t succumbed … Read
When making concessions in negotiation, we tend to assume that a concession must really cost us, financially or otherwise, for the other side to take notice and give us what we want. But in fact, we can often make real headway toward our negotiation goals by giving a token concession—a concession that costs us little, … Read
Black men and women continue to be vastly underrepresented in leadership roles in corporate America due to unconscious biases in the workplace, amongst other reasons that may be more conscious. Those who advance in majority-white organizations encounter both covert and overt bias, and often struggle to feel authentic and connected, write contributors to the book … Read
The best bargaining tips taught by the experts should offer ways to enhance your bargaining power in negotiation. To do this, you must cultivate a strong BATNA, or best alternative to a negotiated agreement. The more appealing your best alternative is, the more comfortable you will feel asking for more in your current negotiation—secure in … Read
Jack Welch. Lee Iacocca. Ronald Reagan. Steve Jobs. Sam Walton.
These prominent leaders from the 1980s embodied a leadership style held up at the time as highly desirable and effective: charismatic leadership.
Leadership trends wax and wane, and charismatic leadership has more recently taken a back seat to less hierarchical and paternalistic leadership styles, such as participative … Read
Collective bargaining negotiations help level the playing field between individual employees and management by enabling employees to organize and find strength in numbers. But when collective bargaining negotiations fall apart, the result can be a devastating strike.
Imagine that you and your business partner agree to sell your company. You end up getting an offer that pleases you both, so now you face the enviable task of splitting up the rewards. How do you ensure that there is fairness in negotiation?
Even when not based in reality, the expectation that someone is “tough” or “cooperative” becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy at the bargaining table. When you approach an allegedly tough competitor with suspicion and guardedness, he is likely to absord these expectations and become more competitive.
Whether you are facing negotiations with Congress, colleagues, customers, or family members, the following negotiation books, published in recent years by experts from the Program on Negotiation, offer new perspectives on common negotiating dilemmas.
In business negotiations, we know we’re supposed to focus on substance: which issues matter to both sides, what each party can afford, what each side’s outside alternatives are, how to build a strong relationship, and so forth. Yet we’re often swayed by more superficial, often irrelevant aspects of negotiation, such as the shape of the table, whether … Read
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
Imagine that you’re buying a used car from its original owner. Of course, you want to get the best deal you can for your money, while your counterpart wants to maximize the value of his asset. After haggling with one another, each side finally arrives at a price point acceptable to both parties. But how … Read
How can you negotiate the best possible price for a new car? This is a common negotiation question, and naturally so. A car is one of the most significant purchases you’ll ever make—and the price is almost always negotiable. Here are a few tips to improve your performance:
When it seems we are on the cusp of closing a deal, we sometimes overlook the fact that there are still a number of important issues to address. Before rushing to a conclusion that your counterpart might not be ready for, consider one of the best closing negotiation techniques: taking a step back. We spoke … Read
Consider this anchoring bias example from Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School faculty member Guhan Subramanian. While running a negotiation simulation in one of his classes, Subramanian noticed that one student spent a considerable amount of time explaining why $10.69 per hour would be an impossible wage rate to offer the student’s counterpart. The … Read
“ABC: Always Be Closing.” That’s the sales strategy that actor Alec Baldwin’s character Blake shared in the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross as he tried to motivate a group of real estate salesmen. In his verbally abusive, profanity-laced speech, Blake presented a ruthless model of closing a business deal that ignores customers’ needs and cuts … Read
“I like conflict,” U.S. President Donald Trump said at a March 6, 2018 press conference, referring to his style as a businessman and as president. With many key leaders departing his administration, Trump denied the White House was in chaos and suggested any internal conflict had been beneficial. “I like having two people with different … Read
In her book, Rebel Talent: Why It Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life (Dey Street Books, 2018), Francesca Gino, the Tandon Family Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, argues that a healthy dose of rebellion can deepen our engagement and help us meet our most important goals. We asked … Read
Business negotiators tend to want the best of both worlds. When reaching an agreement, they want to pin down parties’ respective rights and responsibilities, but they also want to retain the flexibility they need to deal with ever-changing business conditions. One solution to this apparent dilemma is to craft an umbrella agreement.
On July 6, 2017, the state of Illinois finally resolved a 793-day budget impasse, the longest such impasse in U.S. history. The economically devastating stalemate between Republican then-governor Bruce Rauner and the Democratic-controlled state legislature, triggered by hardball negotiation tactics, offers lessons to negotiators managing difficult negotiations.
An Agenda and a Condition
As Illinois politicians approached negotiations … Read
Like it or not, we sometimes have to deliver bad news in negotiation. We spoke with Leslie John, Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, to find out how to accomplish this without ruining a relationship. It began with this question.
Q: I am a real-estate agent working in a relatively active market. Unfortunately, market conditions mean … Read
When disputes arise, negotiators face the difficult question of whether to try to reach a settlement on their own or hand decision-making power over to a judge, a jury, or an arbitrator. Parties often benefit from settling their disputes before going to court, write Robert H. Mnookin, Scott R. Peppet, and Andrew S. Tulumello in … Read
When thinking about how to negotiate with your boss, you likely focus on negotiations over your salary, responsibilities, and workload. But negotiating with your boss can also set you up for success in negotiations outside your organization.
Many of us have been frustrated by a superior’s involvement in a negotiation, whether because they micromanaged talks, contradicted … Read
We had the chance to speak with Alison Wood Brooks, O’Brien Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, regarding a question about expressing thank for concessions in negotiations. Here’s the original question:
Q: This may sound like a trivial question, but it’s been bothering me. When my negotiation counterparts make a favorable concession or … Read
In February 2022, Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) star Brittney Griner was arrested in Russia, where she plays for a professional basketball team during the WNBA offseason, after being accused of bringing vape cartridges with cannabis oil into the country. She faces 10 years imprisonment in a Russian penal colony. Given the extreme tensions between … Read
It’s not as uncommon as it once was to have an employment gap on a resume. Even so, the stigma that once came with those gaps is still a concern for many job seekers. We received a question about this issue recently and shared it with Leslie John, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business … Read
When a team negotiates on behalf of an organization, it can often achieve more than an individual would, thanks to team members’ cumulative knowledge and experience. Yet team negotiation can create new problems. Groupthink—the tendency to go along with the dominant point of view rather than challenging it—can promote overly simplistic decision making in teams … Read
In salary negotiations, job candidates are often at a disadvantage relative to the hiring organization. Due to the well-documented anchoring effect, the first figure introduced into the discussion tends to strongly influence the salary expectations. Unfortunately for candidates, the first figure mentioned in a negotiation often is not in their favor.
For example, when opening salary … Read
Whether or not you consider George W. Bush a skilled negotiator, no one can argue the savviness of his body language in negotiation situations, as film and television producer Brian Grazer discovered. When Grazer was invited to the White House in 2005 for a screening of one of his movies, he started chatting with President … Read
Negotiation experts typically advise us to meet with our counterparts in person whenever possible rather than relying on the telephone or Internet. As convenient as electronic media may be, they lack the visual cues that help convey valuable information and forge connections in face-to-face talks. Without access to gestures and facial expressions, those who negotiate … Read
In negotiation, all the goodwill, trust, and cooperation you create can seem useless if you and your negotiating counterpart disagree about how future events may play out. In such cases, a contingent contract can be a highly useful, though widely overlooked, tool for creating value in negotiation.
Imagine that a professor shows a jar full of coins to his class and announces he’s auctioning it off. Students are told they can write down a bid and that the highest bidder will win the contents in exchange for the money he or she bid. After everyone has written down their bids, the professor … Read
We recently spoke with Guhan Subramanian, the Joseph H. Flom Professor of Law and Business at Harvard Law School and the H. Douglas Weaver Professor of Business Law at Harvard Business School, regarding trends in merger and acquisition strategies and how that’s impacting negotiations.
Negotiation Briefings: In your research, you’ve found that the way in which … Read
It’s not unusual to find ourselves in difficult ethical situations, whether in negotiations or in our daily lives. While there’s rarely an easy answer, shifting our mindset can help open up the possible solutions and give us more insight into the issue. We received a question about just such a dilemma.
In 2017, Amazon announced it was taking bids from cities interested in being the site of its second headquarters, known as HQ2. The online behemoth said it would be investing $5 billion in a campus and creating 50,000 well-paying jobs. Cities and regions across North America snapped to attention, and Amazon received 238 proposals.
Amazon asked applicants … Read
There are numerous advantages to hearing from external advisers and experts in a high-stakes negotiation. However, when talks are at an impasse, limiting the negotiation to a small number of participants may be a more beneficial problem solving approach than including outside opinions.
This was at the heart of a recent question answered by Guhan Subramanian, … Read
What is the role of leadership in an organization? Contrary to the traditional image of a sole individual steering the ship, leaders have an obligation to empower everyone in their organization to make sound and ethical decisions in negotiations and other contexts, write University of California, Berkeley, professor Don A. Moore and Harvard Business School … Read
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
At the time, it seemed to be an example of coolheaded dealmaking in the midst of disaster. In 2009, hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis and changes in consumer preferences, U.S. automaker Chrysler was on the brink of collapse. The U.S. Treasury Department stepped in to run a crisis negotiation. In exchange for about … Read
How should you prepare to negotiate effectively with an exceptionally tough negotiator? That’s the question the United States and its allies have faced since Russian president Vladimir Putin sent his troops to wage war on Ukraine on February 24. The experiences and insights of five former U.S. secretaries of state who negotiated directly with Putin … Read
I am trying to buy a smaller company in my industry, but the negotiations have stalled over price.
It probably won’t surprise you to hear the seller thinks his company is worth a lot more than I think it is. So far we have been talking about doing a straight cash deal, but now I’m contemplating … Read
Over the years, what many believe to be Jesus’s tomb in Jerusalem’s Old City has been the site of tensions that have at times escalated into violence. Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, and Roman Catholic communities guard the shrine surrounding the tomb, which they consider the holiest site in … Read
If you’ve ever made a decision tree, engaged in risk analysis, or created a scoring system when preparing for a negotiation, you benefited from the work of economist Howard Raiffa, whether you realized it or not. And the decisions you’ve made in your negotiations likely have been far smarter as a result. After all, decision-making … Read
In the past, and even today in some settings, a handshake agreement was as good as gold. While many agreements are now concluded with signatures and legal agreements, there are still benefits of nonverbal behavior in negotiation. Shaking hands seems like such a natural way to begin a negotiation, but does it signal too much … Read