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.

Negotiating with yourself

May 10, 2013
Q. I have attended negotiation training sessions that have stressed the importance of thorough preparation, but I have difficulty following through on this advice. Whenever I am facing an impor­tant negotiation, I resolve to gather information and plan my strategy beforehand. Yet I inevitably fall behind and end up feeling underprepared. Do you have any advice to help keep me on track?

Dealing with a crowded table

March 19, 2013
Q. My company is involved in a contentious and high-stakes intellectual-property dispute with a longtime competitor in our industry. We have been engaged in mediation for several months without success. In each session, there are dozens of people on each side, perhaps reflecting the high stakes and complex issues of law and technology that are relevant for a full understanding of the matter. For our final session with the mediator, we are considering proposing to the other side (and to the mediator) that we leave the external ad­visors (primarily outside counsel and technical experts) out of the room. Is this a good idea?

Establishing your options

January 11, 2013
Q. I’m the owner and CEO of a privately held business. I’m planning to add some senior managers to my company, and several of the best candidates have asked me if I would consider granting them equity incentives as part of their pay package. What factors should I consider as I weigh this request? …

Weighing mediation’s results

November 11, 2012
Q. My business enters into lots of contracts, and disputes sometimes arise. We want to minimize the time and ef­fort needed to resolve these disputes … in addition to increasing mutual satisfaction with the ultimate resolutions. We’re thinking of including a provision in our contracts requir­ing that all disputes undergo mediation before they proceed to a more formalized resolution mechanism. Is this a good idea?

Building your team online

September 13, 2012
Q. I run a start-up and am looking to hire a team of people to help with everything from product development to marketing to data entry. I have heard that online labor markets such as oDesk or vWorker may be a good way to hire people, but I don’t know how trustworthy they are or how best to negotiate on them. Any thoughts on taking hiring digital?

Hazards of BATNA development

June 14, 2012
Q. I was recently put in charge of negotiations with a supplier involved in one of our company’s products … I did my homework: I started exploring options with other suppliers to gain power and re­­duce risk in case the current negotiations with my preferred vendor went sour. In the end I was not interested in pursuing them, and I let them go. Was it a mistake to do so much research?

Learning from failure

April 12, 2012
Q. I think of myself as a good negotiator. I look for ways to expand the pie, and I deal well with different bargaining styles. So I was shocked when a longtime customer chose another provider … Fortunately, I’ve had a good year otherwise, but I still don’t know what I did wrong. I’m wondering what I can learn from this failure.

Does personality matter?

February 10, 2012
Q. After some negative experiences at the bargaining table, I’ve started to worry that I simply don’t have the right personality to be a great negotiator. Is there anything I can do to improve, or should I leave negotiating to someone else?

Confronting your critics

December 9, 2011
Q. A group of nonprofit organizations and community activists has organized a campaign against our company. They’ve made all kinds of outrageous claims about the safety of our products … I’ve been asked to meet with the group directly. Is this a good idea?

Anchors away

October 19, 2011
Q. I’m in a tough negotiation right now where the other side has made a very aggressive first offer. I know that I need to defuse his anchor, but I’m not sure how. What should I say and do?