The case for backing down

August 9, 2018
Q. I have pushed pretty hard in salary negotiations for a job with a new company. In my last discussion with the HR person, he presented some convincing evidence suggesting that the high figure I tried to justify is off the mark. Given how hard I pushed for the higher salary, I am hesitant to back down at this point. Wouldn’t doing so make me look bad?

In negotiation, make ’em laugh!

January 10, 2018

Q: Last week I sat in on a negotiation among some of our company’s partners. Just when it seemed that they had reached a stalemate, my boss cracked a joke that instantly lightened the mood. Almost magically, she was able to rejuvenate the conversation—and reemphasize her position—in a way that proved effective. But I can also recall times when jokes have flopped in meetings. When and how should I use humor during negotiations (if at all)?

Responding to an ultimatum

October 31, 2017
Q: Last week I sat in on a negotiation among some of our company’s partners. Just when it seemed that they had reached a stalemate, my boss cracked a joke that instantly lightened the mood. Almost magically, she was able to rejuvenate the conversation—and reemphasize her position. But I can also recall times when jokes have flopped in meetings. This experience left me wondering: When and how should I use humor during negotiations (if at all)?

Breaking bad news

September 18, 2017
Q. I am a real-estate agent working in a relatively active market. I have noticed that delivering bad news to my clients can sour our relationship; they seem to like me less. What can I do to prevent clients from “shooting the messenger”?

Before saying thank you, think of the context

June 26, 2017
Q: When my negotiation counterparts make a favorable concession or give me something I want, I find myself holding back from thanking them. I worry that saying thank you may put me in a position of weakness. On the other hand, I don’t want to be perceived as unappreciative of their willingness to cooperate. What do you recommend?

Starting off on the right foot

February 27, 2017
Q. I’m trying to decide whether to make the first offer in a price negotiation. I’ve heard arguments in favor of both points of view—that is, going first versus sitting back and waiting for the other side to go first. Which tends to be the more effective strategy?

Responding to an ultimatum

January 4, 2017
Q: A counterpart recently made a “take it or leave it” offer during our negotiation. I wasn’t ready to accept the offer, but I didn’t want to walk away, either. Any advice on how to respond?

Set, and hit, your question mark

October 6, 2016
Q. I’ve been told that learning information about my counterparts—their preferences, fears, goals, strengths and weaknesses—is critical for success in negotiation. But I tend to feel unsure about the best way to learn about others, especially information that seems insensitive or private.

Handling an abrasive mediator

August 26, 2016
Q. I work for a firm that distributes products in South America. We have been in a very heated conflict with a customer who claims we did not fill an order as specified by our five-year contract. My firm disagrees. I suggested to my boss that we try mediation, and the customer agreed. But the mediator we are working with seems rather abrasive and off-putting. We would like to resolve this conflict quickly or go the arbitration route. Any advice?

Negotiating work assignments

May 31, 2016
In negotiation, it is important to balance empathy and assertiveness.