In complex multiparty negotiations, should you set ambitious negotiation goals right from the start or begin with more modest ones?
Aiming high can lead to dramatic payoffs if you succeed, but the difficulty of orchestrating complicated negotiations can increase the risk of impasse. By contrast, starting with more modest negotiation goals may suggest a lack of ambition or resolve, but might increase negotiators’ odds of slowly building momentum and trust.
In the same vein, inexperienced negotiators and even many experienced negotiators tend to assume they have a choice between two main strategies: negotiate in a tough, demanding manner or in a friendly, accommodating manner. In fact, there’s a better, third way of negotiating—one that doesn’t rely on toughness or accommodation, but that will improve your likelihood of meeting your negotiation goals. Principled negotiation can produce wise outcomes efficiently and amicably.
How can you set and reach your negotiation goals while bearing this somewhat conflicting information in mind?
Set modest negotiation goals. Rather than announcing ambitious plans right from the start, considering setting more conservative goals.
Empower other parties to find solutions. By stepping back and prompting others to lead, you can invest them in problem solving.
But don’t underestimate your odds. Play it too safe, and you may find yourself with no significant goals at all.
Finally, ensure that goals incorporate all the factors that will help you and your organization succeed. Clarify acceptable levels of risk, and promote cooperation by setting team negotiation goals.
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 More
Managing expectations at the negotiation table can be a challenge, especially when our counterparts ideas and our own are far apart. But what happens when it’s our own expectations of other people’s behaviors we have to manage? We had a question around this topic recently.
Q: There have been a few times recently when I felt … Read More
Imagine that you’re the CEO of a sports clothing manufacturer based in Chicago. You recently traveled to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to meet with a distributor who has a rich and diverse network in the European sports market.
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How would you characterize your negotiation style: Are you collaborative, competitive, or compromising? During any professional negotiation skills training, you’re likely to find out your negotiating style when setting goals and revealing your negotiating personality.
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There’s a better, third way of negotiating—one that doesn’t rely on toughness or accommodation, but that will improve your likelihood of meeting your negotiation goals. In their pivotal negotiation text, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In (Penguin, 2nd edition, 1991), Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton of the Harvard Negotiation Project promote … Read More
Lack of transparency regarding negotiations between hospitals and the insurers known as preferred provider organizations, or PPOs, is a key contributor to spiraling health-care costs in the United States, back in a 2013 article in the New York Times. This topic has many questioning ethics in negotiating within the healthcare industry.
The problem starts with the … Read More
What special insights do outsiders need to prepare for international negotiations in China? Much of what you know already about negotiation holds true, but four characteristics complicate business negotiation in China.
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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 More
Donald J. Trump entered the Oval Office with considerable dealmaking experience in the business world. But his blank slate as an elected official combined with his fluctuating positions on key issues such as immigration and tax policy throughout the presidential race left many wondering what his negotiating style would be.
In the months between being elected U.S. president … Read More
It’s not uncommon for us to get caught up in the “principle” of a negotiation, and forget all about our negotiation goals. Below is a cautionary tale of a years-long battle to keep the public away from a beach the owner had never even visited, and it stands as an extreme case study of how … Read More
Some cultures have a long tradition of haggling—bargaining back and forth about the price of an item—in markets and bazaars. By contrast, in the United States and many other countries, haggling between buyers and sellers is an under-practiced skill. You might routinely pass up opportunities to haggle in situations where financial negotiations are not the … Read More
Few negotiators can imagine negotiation scenarios more stressful than the kinds of crisis negotiations the New York City Police Department’s Hostage Negotiation Team undertake. But police negotiation techniques employed by the New York City Police Department’s Hostage Negotiations Team (HNT) in high-stakes, high-pressure crisis negotiation situations, outlined in an article from Jeff Thompson and Hugh … Read More
Newly formed teams are often encouraged or even required to engage in team-building techniques and exercises, which might range from volunteering at a nonprofit together to sharing little-known secrets about each other to building a tower out of marshmallows and spaghetti. Although such activities can be effective at building bonds and trust, they don’t do … Read More
It’s official: Price negotiations aren’t just for big-ticket items anymore. The prices of furniture, electronics, wine, jewelry, and other “medium-ticket” goods are now frequently up for discussion. The ancient art of haggling has made a comeback, so brush up on your skills with our six price negotiation tactics.
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Goal setting affects performance. In a review of goal-setting research, negotiation scholars Deborah Zetik and Alice Stuhlmacher of DePaul University found that when negotiators set specific, challenging goals, they consistently outperform those who set lower or vague goals.
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Negotiation researchers have refuted the widespread belief that honesty varies widely among individual negotiators. Rather, because people respond strongly to their environment, personal standards for negotiation ethics often vary depending on the context.
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Sometimes our negotiation goals seem manageable, such as securing an annual raise or reeling in a new client. At other times we shoot for the moon, aiming to change deeply ingrained practices or to get much more from our counterparts than they want to give. When we set high goals, choices about our negotiating behavior … Read More
In international negotiations and other complex multiparty negotiations, should you set ambitious goals right from the start or begin with more modest ones?
Aiming high can lead to dramatic payoffs if you succeed, but the difficulty of orchestrating complicated international negotiations can increase the risk of impasse. By contrast, starting with more modest goals may suggest … Read More
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
Six negotiation skills tips for negotiators seeking to creative value during their next round at the bargaining table. Business negotiators are often faced with the complex task of coordinating multiple parties – here are some tips for the individual business negotiator on how to achieve success in her next deal negotiation.
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To turn up the heat on opponents, negotiators sometimes advertise their grievances.
Here’s negotiation skills advice on when it’s a good idea to be vocal—and when to keep talks private.
The decision seemed nonsensical.
Early on the morning of March 7, 2010, with the Academy Awards telecast just hours away, the Walt Disney Company pulled the signal on … Read More
A lack of transparency regarding negotiations between hospitals and the insurers known as preferred provider organizations, or PPOs, is a key contributor to spiraling health-care costs in the United States, according to an August article in the New York Times.
The problem starts with the somewhat arbitrary, sky-high prices that hospitals put on their supplies and … Read More
Social comparisons – the assessments we make about how we measure up to others – are key to understanding how status operates in negotiation. These comparisons, which signal concern about relative status, have a profound impact at the bargaining table.
To make social comparisons, first we choose a reference group against which we can measure ourselves. … Read More
After a freelance designer has finished a big project for your company, you discover some urgent extra work that you should have given him. The designer mentioned that he needs a break and is going to take a few days off. Would you approach him about doing the work, and … Read More
Research on stereotypes has reached conclusions about how lack of power and status can affect performance on negotiation and other tasks. Laura Kray of the University of California at Berkeley and her colleagues found in their research that women negotiators performed worse than men when they were led to believe that their performance reflected negotiating … Read More
At the time of the final presidential debate between President Jimmy Carter and challenger Ronald Reagan during the 1980 election campaign, the U.S. economy was tanking and the Iranian hostage crisis smoldering. Ronald Reagan used his concluding statement of the debate to address a string of questions to the nation that highlighted Carter’s vulnerabilities: “Are … Read More
Adapted from “Managers: Think Twice Before Setting Negotiation Goals,” first published in the Negotiation newsletter, May 2009.
In the years leading up to its collapse, energy-trading company Enron promised its salespeople large bonuses for meeting challenging revenue goals. This focus on revenue rather than profit contributed to widespread fraud and, ultimately, to the firm’s downfall.
To encourage … Read More
Adapted from “Managers: Think Twice before Setting Negotiation Goals,” first published in the Negotiation newsletter.
The next time you’re tempted to dangle performance incentives in front of your employees, think about whether it could backfire.
As an illustration, let’s look at Major League Baseball manager Joe Torre’s renegotiation with the New York Yankees in October 2007. Torre … Read More