Some negotiation experts would have you believe that a mutually beneficial agreement is one in which each side grabs as much as it can from a finite pot of resources and calls it a day.
This is far from the truth. Negotiators often fail to reach a mutually beneficial agreement when they bring this kind of win-lose mindset to the negotiation table. Rather than working together to increase the size of the overall pie, negotiators end up haggling over a small pie, reducing the chance of achieving win-win negotiation.
This assumption of a fixed pie triggers competitive behavior that bypasses opportunities for collaboration and leaves parties entrenched in an impasse.
To reach a mutually beneficial agreement, negotiators have to work hard to both create new sources of value through collaborative moves and claim as much value as they can.
To create value, you need to learn about the other party’s interests and preferences, through building trust and sharing information and asking questions. Lastly, make multiple equivalent simultaneous offers.
Business negotiators tend to present one offer at a time. If the offer is rejected, they learn very little new information that would help them to move forward. A better approach is to craft three offers that are different across issues but equally appealing to you. The other party may reject all three of the offers, but is likely to communicate which one she likes best—and put you back on a track toward a mutually beneficial agreement.
When parties can trade on their preferences across different issues, they reduce the need to haggle over price and percentages.
At the Program on Negotiation, we urge you to aim higher by combining such competitive value-claiming with collaborative value creation. Not because it’s the “nice” thing to do, but because it’s been proven to be the best path to a truly mutually beneficial agreement.
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When determining the best alternative to a negotiated agreement or BATNA (the point at which the negotiators ought to walk away from the table), executives should check in with key organizational leaders.
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Worldwide, mediation has become a common means of resolving conflict, ranging from divorce to workplace disputes to broken contracts. Yet mediation remains an underused tool for resolving disputes in U.S. professional sports leagues.
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There are two common perspectives on negotiation that can seem at odds, leaving negotiators to decide between these options. But one way around this negotiator’s dilemma is through multiple equivalent simultaneous offers, or MESOs. Consider the following two perspectives on negotiation.
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Here’s a list of 10 negotiation failures drawn from recent negotiations in the news—including deals that were over before they started and those that proved disastrous after the ink had dried. These cautionary tales offer ample lessons to business negotiators.
… Read 10 Negotiation Failures
Imagine that you are about to enter into a negotiation. Unbeknown to your counterpart, the stakes are particularly high because you are dealing with difficult situations behind the scenes. Maybe your organization is struggling financially and needs a break to stay in the black. Or you are planning to ask for a raise to help … Read More
When negotiators get along well, creative problem solving is easy. When they become upset, however, they seem to forget everything they know about finding joint gain, to the point of giving up tangible wins simply to inflict losses on the other party. This is especially true in high-profile negotiations that turn nasty.
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“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 Are You Ready to Negotiate?
After engaging in the complex process of business negotiation, business negotiators are often happy to pass off the technicalities of deal drafting to their attorneys. Unfortunately, this handoff is prone to errors. Vague, contradictory, and missing deal terms are not uncommon, and they can lead to serious problems during the implementation stage, according to Harvard … Read Negotiate Business Contracts that Last
Understanding how to arrange the meeting space is a key aspect of preparing for productive negotiations. In this video, Guhan Subramanian, professor at Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School, discusses a real world example of how seating arrangements can influence a negotiator’s success. The discussion was held in his negotiation training workshop “Setting the … Read More
Back in 2007, unhappy with Amazon’s low, flat price of $9.99 for e-books, five major U.S. publishers negotiated a new business model for e-book pricing with Apple, which was getting ready to launch the iPad.
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A string of recent deals between longtime opponents could give you the inspiration you need to reach agreement with your most difficult partners.
Republicans and Democrats. North and South Korea. The United States and China. All of these pairs have a reputation for conflict, rivalry, and impasse. Yet despite their ongoing differences, each pair recently managed … Read Trying to Come to Terms with an Adversary?
Negotiation Skills in Business Communication: Campeau Corporation and Federated Department Stores
Sometimes in negotiation we are forced to deal not only with the issues on the table but also with concerns about status.
One famous instance took place in the late 1980s, when Robert Campeau, head of the Campeau Corporation and then one of Fortune magazine’s “50 … Read More
For fans of AMC’s hit show Mad Men, the news was terrible. In late March 2011, the network publicly confirmed that the fifth season of the show, originally set to air summer of 2011, would not air until early 2012. A contract dispute with the show’s creator, producer, and head writer, Matthew Weiner, had held … Read More
As he entered his second term in office, President Obama set a goal of taking concrete steps to address global climate change. A global agreement on the issue is in sight, but a key obstacle stands in the way: the U.S. Senate. According to the Constitution, a president needs approval from a two-thirds majority of … Read More
Concerns about status will arise in any negotiation. How can you deal with them, both in yourself and in others? The following six guidelines can help in virtually any context
… Read Managing Status in Negotiation
Does anyone down there know how to cut a deal?” Senate Republican Mitch McConnell said to Vice President Joe Biden. It was Sunday, December 30, 2012, the day before the “fiscal cliff ” deadline, and the minority leader had phoned Biden out of a sense of desperation, report Patrick O’Connor and Peter Nicholas in the … Read Learning from the deficit-reduction talks
Adapted from “Dealing with Backstage Negotiators,” first published in the Negotiation newsletter.
Negotiated agreements sometimes go off the rails in the final hour because one side caves in to a constituent’s wishes despite having the authority to make a commitment. Because people tend to approach negotiations with an “us versus them” mentality, they may succumb to … Read Dealing With Constituents
The PON Clearinghouse offers hundreds of role simulations, from two-party, single-issue negotiations to complex multi-party exercises. The following role simulation is a three-party, multi-issue contract negotiation among representatives for an HMO and two pharmaceutical companies over the purchase of a new antidepressant drug.
SCENARIO: Hopkins HMO is the largest independent managed health care organization in the … Read Pharma talks
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