Negotiation Coach

Learn how to master the art of negotiation and dispute resolution with the insights from experts at the Harvard University's Program on Negotiation.

Page 1 of 41234

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?

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?

Take the shame out of networking

March 18, 2016

Q. I manage a team of consultants who engage in negotiations. We often discuss the importance of networking to create new negotiating opportunities, but I rarely see them following through. Any advice on how to help them overcome their reluctance to network?

Should you stay or should you go?

November 16, 2015
Q: As a senior manager at my company, I have spent most of the past year trying to settle litigation with another company in our industry. We are about to go into our third mediation session in a few weeks. However, I have just been promoted to a job where I will have responsibility for a larger portfolio. It will include the litigation, but someone else will now have day-to-day responsibility for it. Should I bring her to the mediation with me? Maybe she should go instead of me?

Learning from experience

July 8, 2015
Q: I work with a group that has completed several mergers and acquisitions on behalf of our organization. We would like to assess how well we have done and where and how we might improve. What’s the best way to go about this?

In negotiations, should you reveal everything?

April 15, 2015
Q: After working at the same company for many years, I was laid off. Al­­though I was devastated, I decided to view this as an opportunity to take a year off. When I’m asked for the name of my employer during 2014, I simply leave the question blank because I’m worried about making this employment gap a bigger deal than it already is. Is my intuition right?

Manage their perceptions

February 13, 2015
Q: A customer is pressuring me to make a deal fast. I don’t want to be forced into a one-sided agreement and prefer to reach a compromise on mu­­tually beneficial terms. How should I respond to such hard-bargaining tactics?
Page 1 of 41234