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.


negotiation table

What is the Negotiation Table?

How can you uncover additional value, make useful trades, and put together a win-win deal at the negotiation table?

The negotiation table can be literal or figurative, but in either case, it’s where you bring your skills and experience to attempt to work out a deal with another party.

Some of the most integral skills negotiators can acquire include bargaining skills and tactics for building trust at the negotiation table. The most obvious way to make a negotiation feel safe and trusting is to choose new negotiating counterparts wisely, yet we don’t always have that luxury. When this happens, bridge the gap by working to build trust.

The first step to inspiring trust at the negotiation table is to demonstrate trustworthiness. A carefully crafted unilateral concession can work wonders for building trust, for it conveys to the other party that you consider the relationship to be a friendly one, with the potential for mutual gain over time.

You can also build a relationship at the negotiation table by asking questions, then listening carefully. Creating these positive negotiation relationships are important not because they engender warm, fuzzy feelings, but because they engender trust – a vital means of securing desired actions from others.

What should you do when little or no trust exists between negotiators? Consider bringing an intermediary to the negotiation table – someone trusted by both sides, to serve as a go-between focused on creating value. This role could be filled by a professional mediator or by someone with whom both sides have worked in the past, such as a banker who has financed earlier deals.

You can download a complimentary copy of our special report, Dealmaking: Secrets of Successful Dealmaking in Business Negotiations, right now! We will send you a download link to your copy of the report and notify you by email when we post new business negotiation advice and information on how to improve your dealmaking skills to our website.

The following items are tagged negotiation table:

How to Overcome Cultural Barriers in Negotiation

Posted by & filed under International Negotiation.

Imagine that you’re the American representative of a U.S. food company, and you’re hoping to procure a new ingredient for several of your products from a German company. A representative from the company is flying in to meet with you. Do you expect your German counterpart to behave differently than the Americans you typically deal … Read  

Teach Your Students to Take Their Mediation Skills to the Next Level

Posted by & filed under Teaching Negotiation.

Mediation is a critical conflict resolution skill for students in a variety of fields: business, international relations, law, and public policy, to name a few. Once students have mastered mediation basics, they can hone their skills by trying to mediate more complex conflicts as well as by learning the key differences between facilitation and mediation. … Read  

BATNA and Other Sources of Power at the Negotiation Table

Posted by & filed under BATNA.

BATNA negotiations involve a negotiators knowledge of her best alternatives to a negotiated agreement and are one of three sources of negotiating power at the bargaining table, according to negotiation researcher Adam D. Galinsky and New York University’s Joe C. Magee. … Read  

Salary Negotiation: How to Ask for a Higher Salary

Posted by & filed under Salary Negotiations.

For a new employee, salary negotiation skills can be the most important and the most intimidating, but the most important, of difficult conversations to have at the beginning of your career. A new employee, successfully negotiating a salary offer up by $5,000 could make a huge difference over the course of her career. … Read  

Diplomatic Negotiations: The Surprising Benefits of Conflict and Teamwork at the Negotiation Table

Posted by & filed under International Negotiation.

As the US presidential primary season heats up for both parties, it helps to take a look back at the 2008 US presidential election and the win-win coalition forged between Barack Obama and his then-rival, Hillary Clinton. As this example demonstrates, if carefully managed, disagreements can lead to better results than you might expect. … Read  

Negotiation in Business: Ethics, Bias, and Bargaining in Good Faith

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations.

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. … Read  

MESO: Make Multiple Equivalent Simultaneous Offers to Create Value in Dealmaking Table

Posted by & filed under Conflict Resolution.

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  

Negotiation Skills and Bargaining Techniques from Female Executives

Posted by & filed under Leadership Skills.

Dozens of female CEOs and other high-level women negotiators have told us about their experiences negotiating in traditionally masculine contexts where standards and expectations were ambiguous. Their experiences varied according to the gender triggers that were present in the negotiations and they adapted their negotiation skills to accommodate these shifts. … Read  

Make the Most of Your Salary Negotiations

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

What salary negotiation skills can you use if a potential employer asks you about your past salary? If you earned a competitive wage, your concern may be whether the new employer can afford you. … Read  

How to Resolve Cultural Conflict: Overcoming Cultural Barriers at the Negotiation Table

Posted by & filed under Conflict Resolution.

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? … Read  

How to Control Your Emotions in Conflict Resolution

Posted by & filed under Conflict Resolution.

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. … Read  

Negotiation Challenges for Family Business Relationships

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Communication in business negotiations is important – but even more so when your counterparts and negotiating partners are family members. In this article drawn from negotiation research, the negotiation strategies for avoiding conflict and crafting win-win negotiated agreements are outlined. … Read  

Negotiation in Business Without a BATNA – Is It Possible?

Posted by & filed under BATNA.

In a negotiation scenario, you always have a best alternative to a negotiated agreement. Negotiation research and negotiation strategy helps negotiators find their BATNA, leverage it at the bargaining table, and illustrates the impact that knowing your BATNA has on a negotiation. … Read  

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies and Power in Negotiation

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

When you expect people to be competitive, it’s not only your own behavior that changes. You also set up a self-fulfilling prophecy, such that your expectations about the other side’s behavior lead him to behave in ways that confirm your expectations. … Read  

Essential Negotiation Skills: Limiting Cognitive Bias in Negotiation

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

In past articles, we have highlighted a variety of psychological biases that affect negotiators, many of which spring from a reliance on intuition, and may hinder integrative negotiation. Of course, negotiators are not always affected by bias; we often think systematically and clearly at the bargaining table. Most negotiators believe they are capable of distinguishing … Read  

Famous Negotiators: Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin

Posted by & filed under International Negotiation.

At a January press conference last year, German chancellor Angela Merkel dangled a carrot in front of Russian president Vladimir Putin: the possibility of a summit in Kazakhstan aimed at easing the Ukraine crisis, to be attended by her and the leaders of France and Ukraine. That carrot, however, was dangling from a significant string. … Read  

The Importance of a Relationship in Negotiation

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

At the negotiation table, what’s the best way to uncover your negotiation counterpart’s hidden interests? Build a relationship in negotiation by asking questions, then listening carefully. Even if you have decided to make the first offer and are ready with a number of alternatives, you should always open by asking and listening to assess your … Read  

10 Negotiation Training Skills Every Organization Needs

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

How can managers and their organizations increase the odds that negotiation training will lead to beneficial long-term results? Here are several pieces of advice, drawn from experts at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. … Read  

Emotional Triggers: How Emotions Affect Your Negotiating Ability

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Example of negotiation in daily life: Imagine you’re about to negotiate with a competing firm about a possible merger. You enter the conference room and find a reasonable and fair representative from the other company, someone you’ve reached mutually beneficial agreements with in the past. … Read  

Dear Negotiation Coach: Managing Expectations and “Being Nice”

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

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  

Union Negotiations Show How to Bring Reluctant Parties to the Table

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations.

On April 24, 2013, an eight-story building in Bangladesh known as Rana Plaza collapsed, killing 1,134 people, many of them low-wage garment workers who made goods for foreign companies. In the aftermath, Western retailers were widely criticized for failing to engage in international labor union negotiations and address hazardous conditions in the factories where their … Read  

Q&A with William Ury, author of Getting To Yes With Yourself

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Are You Your Own Worst Enemy? We interviewed William Ury, co-founder of the Program on Negotiation, one of the world’s leading experts on negotiation, and bestselling author of Getting to Yes and Getting Past No, about his book, Getting To Yes With Yourself. Great negotiators know that the path to resolution is not always linear but rather … Read  

Overcoming Cultural Barriers in Negotiation: China and the Gold Rush Mentality

Posted by & filed under International Negotiation.

If Chinese culture favors insiders, it stands to reason that outsiders face an uphill battle. In One Billion Customers: Lessons from the Front Lines of Doing Business in China (Free Press, 2005), business executive and Wall Street Journal bureau chief James McGregor writes of the 1996 attempt by Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, to … Read  

For a Mutually Beneficial Agreement, Collaboration is Key

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

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. … Read  

Putting Your Negotiated Agreement Into Action

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Normally negotiators focus on the deal-at-hand as well as those present at the negotiation table, neglecting other aspects of the negotiated agreement that would not only impact others outside of the room but also require their cooperation for the agreement’s success and viability. … Read  

BATNA and Risky Negotiation Tactics

Posted by & filed under BATNA.

Your BATNA is your “best alternative to a negotiated agreement.” Expect that your negotiating counterpart has one going into a negotiation, and so should you. Below is a good BATNA negotiation example involving how to leverage your away-from-the-bargaining-table options and the risks inherent with such a negotiation strategy. … Read  

Setting Standards in Negotiations

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

As the starting point from which all commercial transactions occur, from purchasing equipment to setting salaries, negotiatiosn in business is an essential skill no matter what field a negotiator finds herself. Using an objective standard can strengthen your proposal and eliminate emotional bias. … Read  

Negotiating with Millennials – How to Overcome Cultural Differences in Communication

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations.

Negotiation training often focuses on bridging gaps between negotiators with different styles, backgrounds, or objectives, but what about overcoming generational barriers in negotiation? Generational differences need not stymie efforts at the bargaining table. In this segment from “Dear Negotiation Coach,” we explore how to overcome cultural differences in communication with members of the Millennial generation. … Read  

How to Negotiate Online

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

International negotiators are often faced with the problem of how to overcome cultural barriers to communication. When you communicate in person, social norms – including body language, manners, and physical appearance – guide your behavior and ease the process. Here are some tips on how to negotiate online and building a rapport with your counterpart … Read  

Coming Up with Win-Win Solutions at the Bargaining Table

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations.

Even those who effectively engage in an integrative negotiations or mutual-gains approach to negotiation, a bargaining scenario in which parties work together to meet interests and maximize value creation during the negotiation process, can be stymied by the task of dividing up a seemingly fixed pie of resources, such as budgets, revenue, and time. … Read  

The Hidden Hazards of BATNA Development

Posted by & filed under BATNA.

The following question was posed to Program on Negotiation faculty member and associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School in the Negotiations, Organizations & Markets Unit, Francesca Gino and involves a negotiation example from real life from the world of business negotiations. … Read  

What is BATNA?

Posted by & filed under BATNA.

What is BATNA? Negotiations in which each counterpart has a best alternative to a negotiated agreement are scenarios in which the incentive to work together must exceed the value of alternatives away from the negotiation table. … Read  

Deal-Making Negotiation Strategies: Short on Cash? Try Bartering

Posted by & filed under Dealmaking.

In an economic downturn, negotiation opportunities sometimes dry up because parties think they have nothing left to give. During times like these, bartering flourishes. This article will help you decide how and when to include bartering as a component of your negotiations. Here are four guidelines to help you bargain successfully at the negotiation table. … Read  

How Mood Affects Negotiators

Posted by & filed under Conflict Resolution.

What are social psychologists learning about the connections among emotions, negotiation, and decision making? Negotiation contributor Jennifer S. Lerner of Harvard Kennedy School and her colleagues have identified two critical themes. First, they have studied the carryover of emotion from one episode, such as a car accident, to an unrelated situation, such as a workplace … Read  

Definition of the Winner’s Curse in Negotiations

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

The winner’s curse negotiations, when a negotiator overbids for an item due to competitive pressure or other non-value related factors, is a major pitfall that integrative bargainers should seek to avoid. … Read  

Negotiation Skills: How to Become a Negotiation Master

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Negotiation jujitsu means breaking the vicious cycle of escalation by refusing to react. Resistance should be channeled into activities such as “exploring interests, inventing options for mutual gain, and searching for independent standards.” … Read  

The Impact of Anxiety and Emotions on Negotiations

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Intense negotiation scenarios, we often choose to consult an expert for advice, preferably someone who has carried out hundreds of similar deals with great success. When we consult with others on our negotiations, we must weigh their advice against our own opinions and research. Past negotiation research finds that we tend to undervalue advice from … Read  

10 Popular Business Negotiation Articles

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations.

Here are ten popular business negotiation articles on the Program on Negotiation website. Drawn from a variety of negotiation case studies as well as negotiation research, the following articles offer strategies for engaging in integrative negotiations aimed at creating win-win scenarios for each party at the negotiation table. 1. What is the Right of First Refusal? Rights … Read  

What is the Multi-Door Courthouse Concept

Posted by & filed under International Negotiation.

As a collaboration between UST School of Law and the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, the following is the transcript of a conversation between the creator of the multi-door courthouse, Harvard Law Professor Frank E.A. Sander, and the executive director and founder of the University of St. Thomas (UST) International ADR [Alternative Dispute … Read  

4 Negotiation Tactics Robert Kraft Used to End the NFL Lockout

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, was by all accounts a major factor in getting the NFL collective bargaining agreement signed earlier in October 2011. To do so, Kraft employed four key negotiation tactics to help the players and owners come to a “win-win” solution. … Read  

How Chaos at the Bargaining Table Can Help Negotiators Reach Agreement

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Here are some examples of negotiation situations in which chaos at the bargaining table works to the negotiator’s advantage. Whether conducting business negotiations involving commercial transactions or personal disputes with a friend, the following negotiating skills and techniques can be used. … Read  

Managing Faultlines in Group Negotiations

Posted by & filed under Mediation.

Group negotiations are a fact of managerial life, yet the outcomes of teamwork are highly unpredictable. Sometimes groups cohere, reaching novel solutions to nagging problems, and sometimes infighting causes them to collapse. How can you predict when conflict will emerge in groups, and what can you do to stop it? Dora Lau of the Chinese University … Read  

Satisficing and Negotiation

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations.

It stands to reason that devoting less time to relatively unimportant choices should free you up for more meaningful pursuits and increase your overall satisfaction. But how does the concept of satisficing apply to your most important decisions and negotiations? … Read  

How to Overcome Cultural Barriers to Communication in International Negotiations

Posted by & filed under International Negotiation.

How to overcome cultural barriers to communication: As members of organizations and families, we all know from experience that even people with identical backgrounds can have vastly different negotiating styles and values. Nonetheless, we continue to be intrigued by the idea that distinct patterns emerge between negotiators from different cultures. … Read  

Is Your Deal Too Good to Be True?

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations.

In an episode of the fictional HBO series Silicon Valley, partners in a red-hot technology startup, Pied Piper, receive funding offers from a number of venture capitalist firms. Raviga Capital is by far the highest bidder; its offer of $20 million values Pied Piper at a whopping $100 million. … Read  

Overcoming Cultural Barriers in Negotiations: The Importance of Culture and Etiquette in Bargaining Scenarios

Posted by & filed under International Negotiation.

Learn how and when to engage in appropriate cultural traditions when negotiating with counterparts from a different culture. In this article we offer negotiation tips for overcoming cultural barriers in negotiation and present additional articles drawn from negotiation research that may be of benefit to negotiators who need to improve their international negotiation skills. … Read  

Negotiation Skills in Business Communication: Heading Off Deception

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations.

In all types of negotiations and across all phases of the process, people can sometimes misrepresent or fail to tell the truth. Individual negotiators lie with the hope of improving their own outcomes. When negotiating his salary with the Cranbury, N.J.–based pharmaceutical marketing firm Carter-Wallace in 1997, Robert Bonczek misrepresented his prior title and salary … Read  

Negotiating Skills and Negotiation Tactics: Damage Control in Conflict Resolution

Posted by & filed under Conflict Resolution.

Framing in negotiation, and the negotiating skills and negotiation tactics that go behind effective bargaining, can help not only achieve a negotiator’s goals at the bargaining table, but also can anticipate the fallout or kickback received from parties away from the negotiation table. President Obama’s tax-cut negotiations with Senate Republicans in late 2010 offer cautionary … Read  

Lawyers in Mediation and the Mediation Process

Posted by & filed under Dispute Resolution.

How does the presence of lawyers affect the process of mediation? You might guess that when one or both sides bring an attorney to a mediation, the process would become more contentious and adversarial, with impasse more likely, than if the parties worked solely with a mediator. That conventional wisdom is contradicted by new research … Read  

Program on Negotiation Faculty On How To End the US Government Shutdown

Posted by & filed under Conflict Resolution.

The Washington Post’s “On Leadership” column by Jenna McGregor asked renowned negotiation experts on how the government shutdown in Washington, DC could be ended at the bargaining table. Among the experts interviewed were Robert Mnookin, Chair of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School (PON) and author of Bargaining With The Devil: When To Negotiate, … Read  

2012 Great Negotiator Award event will honor former Secretary of State James A. Baker, III on March 29th

Posted by & filed under International Negotiation.

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  

When irrationality isn’t the issue

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations, Daily.

Adapted from “Is Your Counterpart Rational . . . Really?” by Deepak Malhotra (professor, Harvard Business School), first published in the Negotiation newsletter, March 2006. How can you negotiate with someone who seems irrational? First, by questioning whether it is reasonable for you to judge your counterparts as irrational. As it turns out, behavior that negotiators … Read  

Former President Martti Ahtisaari honored with Great Negotiator Award!

Posted by & filed under Daily, Events, International Negotiation.

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