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What’s Your Negotiation Strategy?

  • Jonathan Hughes
  • Danny Ertel

problem solving negotiation strategy example

Many people don’t tackle negotiations in a proactive way; instead, they simply react to moves the other side makes. While that approach may work in a lot of instances, complex deals demand a much more strategic approach.

The best negotiators look beyond their immediate counterparts to see if other constituencies have a stake in the deal’s outcome or value to contribute; rethink the scope and timing of talks; and search for connections across multiple deals. They also get creative about the process and framing of negotiations, ditching the binary thinking that can lock negotiators into unproductive zero-sum postures.

Applying such strategic techniques will allow dealmakers to find novel sources of leverage, realize bigger opportunities, and achieve outcomes that maximize value for both sides.

Here’s how to avoid reactive dealmaking

Idea in Brief

The challenge.

Negotiators often mainly react to the other side’s moves. But for complex deals, a proactive approach is needed.

The Strategy

Strategic negotiators look beyond their immediate counterpart for stakeholders who can influence the deal. They intentionally control the scope and timing of talks, search for novel sources of leverage, and seek connections across multiple deals.

Tactical negotiating can lock parties into a zero-sum posture, in which the goal is to capture as much value from the other side as possible. Well-thought-out strategies suppress the urge to react to moves or to take preemptive action based on fears about the other side’s intentions. They lead to deals that maximize value for both sides.

When we advise our clients on negotiations, we often ask them how they intend to formulate a negotiation strategy. Most reply that they’ll do some planning before engaging with their counterparts—for instance, by identifying each side’s best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA) or by researching the other party’s key interests. But beyond that, they feel limited in how well they can prepare. What we hear most often is “It depends on what the other side does.”

  • JH Jonathan Hughes is a partner at Vantage Partners, a global consultancy specializing in strategic partnerships and complex negotiations.
  • Danny Ertel is a partner at Vantage Partners, a global consultancy specializing in strategic partnerships and complex negotiations.

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Home » Articles » Creative Strategies To Solve Negotiation Problems

Creative Strategies To Solve Negotiation Problems


Apply creative negotiation strategies to solve negotiation problems.

‘ Ideas are the root of creation ‘ Ernest Dimnet

We evolved because we were able to stand up and see above the tall, swaying grass. We could now see the predators that were stalking us, and hear them snarl in rage as their afternoon lunch deftly disappeared into an impenetrable thicket. Human beings were given opposable thumbs so they could nimbly manipulate the physical world around them into tools to defend themselves. Mostly though, we survived because we could think, create, and solve problems. Solving problems through creative thinking is perhaps our noblest trait as a species. Everyday we are inundated with dozens of problems that hound and harangue us, but we deal with them because of our need to do so. Negotiations present us with these same types of problem solving dilemmas. Often though, we solve these problems without fully understanding how we do so. There are other times when these challenging problems suddenly emerge out of nowhere like an insurmountable brick wall. These problems stymie our endeavours as we figuratively hammer our fists in frustration against its unyielding and impenetrable bulk until we surrender in exhaustion. Some people will figure a way to break through the wall, while others will find a means to scale the wall, or tunnel under. They solved the problem. The core of the creative negotiation strategies process is often achieved through problem solving. Let’s see how it works in all its forms so we add them to our arsenal of negotiating tools. There are several different creative strategies we can consider and use in solving our negotiating problems.

A solution to a problem can pop into our heads out of the blue like the symbolic ‘ light bulb ‘ or the blurted ‘ Eureka !’ Without even thinking of the problem, the answer bursts into our mind while eating lunch or taking our morning shower. To understand how to make this approach work fully to our advantage, here is the four step process.

  • Preparation – To solve a problem, we need to have all the information we can gather so that it can be completely digested. This information is important because we have to fully understand the nature of the problem to give it full definition.
  • Incubation – After our preliminary attempts to resolve the problem have been unsuccessful, put the problem aside and forget about it. Go on to other activities. Let the problem tumble around in the back recesses of your unconscious mind.
  • Illumination – That’s right – the light bulb has just clicked on as a possible solution pops into your head while you’re having your tea or watching a movie. It doesn’t always happen, but it does happen.
  • Check it out – Don’t jump to a conclusion. It’s a possible solution, remember? It has to be checked out so we know it’s legitimate.

The Logical Approach

Logic is a system of reasoning and an excellent tool as a creative negotiation strategy to solve negotiation problems. Let’s follow the process below.

  • Know the problem – Again, this is a vital step. We have to try and answer the following questions as best we can.
  • What is known?
  • What is unknown?
  • What is the information we are using?
  • What are our assumptions?
  • Formulate a plan – Here, we have three choices in devising a plan to solve the problem. First, we can use our past experience to find a means to solve the problem. Second, we can try to seek out problems that are similar and see how they were solved by others. Third, we may need to restate or re-structure the nature of the problem and then consider any and all possible solutions.
  • Follow out the plan – Our plan needs to be executed so it can be tested to see whether it works.
  • Review – Here we should do a feed back loop so we can evaluate what we have learned, and determine whether some other means would have solved the problem.

Caution – Be on guard and ask yourself whether you have fallen for any of these traps that might skew your efforts at problem solving.

  • Jumping to a conclusion – We want to have a solution. The problem is that our egos often evaluate solutions that they agree with as compelling, and disregard solutions that we don’t agree with or accept. A negotiator needs to be more discerning in how we evaluate all possible solutions or conclusions.
  • Information bias – The other problem we might have to be on guard against is that we often interpret information in a manner that is in harmony with information we already know, and then apply this preconception to our conclusions. This means we may not be evaluating all the available information properly because of our prejudices.

Brainstorming Strategy

We’ve all heard of this one of course, but do we really understand what it means, and do we really know how to use it effectively? What is it and how do we apply it and overcome the challenges encountered in our negotiations? Brainstorming was developed by an advertising executive, Alex Osborn, in the 1950’s to foster creative thinking in business organisations. He believed that one of the main obstacles to creative thinking was our tendency to evaluate ideas prematurely. Osborn also believed that two or more heads could be more collectively creative than one. It is needless to say, generally used as a group approach to creative problem solving. The truth is that most of us don’t use brainstorming effectively because we perceive it as some form of idea melee that engages the group. Surprise! It’s not – brainstorming has rules, and they were developed for a purpose. The key point to learn is not to judge anyone else’s ideas during the process. The rules that follow are adapted from ‘ Applied Imagination ‘ by Alex Osburn, published in 1957, and have been copied from Leigh Thompson’s, ‘Heart and Mind of the Negotiator ‘, Second Edition, (2001).

  • Expressiveness – Group members should express any idea that comes to mind, no matter how strange, weird, or fanciful. Group members are encouraged not to be constrained or timid. They should freewheel whenever possible.
  • Non-evaluation – Do not criticize ideas. Group members should not evaluate any of the ideas in any way during the generation phase; all ideas should be considered valuable.
  • Quantity – Group members should generate as many ideas as possible. Groups should strive for quantity; the more ideas, the better. Quantity of ideas increases the probability of finding excellent solutions.
  • Building – Because all of the ideas belong to the group, members should try to modify and extend the ideas suggested by other members of the group whenever possible.

Negotiation problems can be solved by trying one of several powerful creative strategies. A problem is simply an obstacle that needs to overcome, but to be successful in doing so, we need to learn and apply the techniques to be effective. When you are problem solving, always keep in mind what worked and what didn’t. It’s as they say, ‘ Practice makes perfect. ‘

  • Leigh Thompson, ‘The Heart and Mind of the Negotiator-2nd Edition’, Prentice Hall Business Publishing, (2001).
  • J. Lewicki, A. Litterer, W.Minton, M. Sauders, ‘Negotiation’, 2nd Edition, Irwin,(1994).

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Article • 11 min read

Win-Win Negotiation

Finding solutions that work for everyone.

By the Mind Tools Content Team

Do you dread entering a negotiation? Do you worry that what you want will not match what the other person wants to give? Do you worry about having to "play hardball" and souring a good working relationship? After all, for someone to win, someone else has to lose, right? Well, not necessarily.

Chances are, you can find a solution that leaves all parties feeling like winners by adopting the aptly-named "win-win" approach to negotiation.

In this article, we examine the meaning of win-win negotiation, and we explore how you can apply the concept of "principled negotiation" within win-win, to build mutual respect and understanding while getting results that you both want.

What Is Win-Win Negotiation?

A win-win negotiation is a careful exploration of both your own position, and that of your opposite number, in order to find a mutually acceptable outcome that gives you both as much of what you want as possible. If you both walk away happy with what you've gained from the deal, then that's a win-win!

In an ideal win-win situation, you will find that the other person wants what you are prepared to trade, and that you are prepared to give what he or she wants. If this is not the case, and one of you must give way, then it is fair to negotiate some form of compensation for doing so. But both sides should still feel comfortable with the outcome.

People's positions are rarely as opposed as they may initially appear, and the other person may have very different goals from the ones you expect! So, try to keep an open mind and be flexible in your thinking.

Principled Negotiation Within the Win-Win Scenario

Establishing a strong position is a good starting point for a negotiation. But if you become too entrenched, conflict can quickly arise and the discussion may break down.

You can avoid this by using a form of win-win negotiation called "principled negotiation."

Former Harvard Law School professor Roger Fisher, and academic, anthropologist, and negotiation expert William Ury developed this approach in their 1981 book, "Getting to Yes." They identified five steps of principled negotiations*, and argued that negotiations are successful when they encourage cooperation toward a common goal.

Let's look at the five stages of principled negotiation:

1. Separate People From the Problem

First, avoid identifying your opposite number as your "opponent." Be sure to focus on the issue at hand, and try to ignore personality differences. To do this, be aware of three factors: perception, emotion and communication.

According to Fisher and Ury, perception means "putting yourself in their shoes," so you are better placed to see common ground or a compromise solution. Our article, Empathy at Work , can help you to do this. You may be convinced that your position is fair, reasonable and "right," but it's likely so will the other person.

Examine and acknowledge your emotions, and to ask yourself why you feel the way you do. For example, could a previous bad experience in a negotiation be affecting your behavior in this one?

Remain calm during the negotiations, as this will aid your decision-making processes . Observe the emotions of the other party, and try not to respond in kind if the discussion becomes "heated."

Instead, use your emotional intelligence skills to understand why the debate has taken this turn, and make an effort to understand each party's underlying interests, needs and concerns.

Finally, make sure that your communication is clear and precise , to avoid misunderstandings. Use active listening techniques, such as looking directly at the speaker, listening carefully, and allowing each person to finish before you respond.

2. Focus on Interests, Not Positions

People are seldom "difficult" just for the sake of it, and almost always there are real and valid differences sitting behind conflicting positions. The way that each person sees the issue may be influenced by many factors, such as their values, beliefs, status, responsibilities, and cultural background .

Try to keep the conversation courteous and avoid attributing blame. Once everyone knows that their interests have been considered, they are more likely to be receptive to different points of view.

For example, if you're negotiating with your boss to get more resources for your team, consider that he may be under pressure to reduce costs. If you look beyond your two positions, you may find that you have a common interest, such as increasing your team's productivity.

3. Invent Options for Mutual Gain

By now, each side will likely have a better understanding of the other's interests, and a solution might be obvious. You may even be on the verge of agreement. If not, stay open to the idea that a completely new position may exist and use the negotiation process to explore your options.

To return to our example, let's say that you've identified increased productivity as a mutual interest, but your company can't afford new staff or equipment. You could see this as an opportunity to assess working practices, training opportunities, and inexpensive ways to increase efficiency.

Brainstorm as many ideas as you can to find a solution to the problem. Be receptive to all suggestions, then develop the most promising ones into new proposals that you can bring to the negotiating table.

4. Use Objective Criteria

This isn't just "setting out the facts," as different underlying needs, interests, opinions, and goals can cause people to interpret facts differently, or cause you to select only those facts that support your position .

For example, during an interdepartmental negotiation in your company about the launch date of a new product, you become convinced that rushing it to market as early as possible is the best option. There’s a danger your position could become entrenched, and your willingness to listen lessened.

Yes, there’s some evidence to support this view within the marketing data, but also indications that delaying the launch until later in the year, to coincide with a national holiday, would also be good for sales in the longer term. It would also give your marketing team more time to prepare a campaign.

Try to agree on a set of objective criteria that provide a framework for your discussion. These could include measurements such as legal standards, market value, a mission statement, or contractual terms. Agreeing on standards demonstrates shared values, and a commitment to reaching an agreement.

Returning to our first example, both you and your boss could agree on a budget as a basis for discussion regarding more resources for your team, and proceed on the basis that any changes must be made within these financial limitations.

5. Know Your BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement)

Your BATNA is your favored fallback option if you can't get everything that you want. This is not the same as a "bottom line," which is a fixed position that can limit your options and may prevent you from discovering a new course of action.

Instead, think through what might happen if the negotiation doesn't achieve your desired result, and select the most attractive alternatives. Evaluate these alternatives and at the end of that process, the most promising alternative solution is your BATNA.

Returning to our example, if you start the negotiation with a "bottom line" demand for two extra departmental staff members, and your company refuses, the negotiation falls at the first hurdle. However, if you started with this request, but your BATNA was to achieve a commitment to training and updated software, you'd be in a better position to get a good result.

You can read more about preparing for a negotiation in our article, Essential Negotiation Skills . You can also learn how to avoid some of the pitfalls of sealing a deal by reading our article 10 Common Negotiation Mistakes .

Win-Win Versus Win-Lose Negotiation

In a negotiation where you don't expect to deal with the person concerned again, and you don't need their continued goodwill, it may be appropriate to seek a "bigger piece of the pie" for yourself. This "win-lose" approach, often called " distributive bargaining ," is usually used for negotiating the price of goods or services (for example, a house or a car).

Similarly, when the stakes are high, it may be appropriate to use legitimate " gamesmanship " (pushing the rules to their limits) to gain advantage, but without crossing the line into brinkmanship . But, when you want to have an ongoing, productive relationship with the person you're negotiating with, these techniques can have serious drawbacks:

  • One person "playing hardball" puts the other person at a disadvantage. This may lead to reprisals later.
  • If the losing party needs to fulfilll some part of a deal, they may decide to become uncooperative and awkward.
  • Using tricks and manipulation during a negotiation can undermine trust and damage teamwork.

Win-win negotiation can enable both parties in a discussion to feel that they have made a satisfactory deal, and that neither is the "loser."

It's particularly useful when you have an ongoing relationship with the other party, and you wish to remain on good terms.

"Principled negotiation" is a common win-win strategy, devised by Roger Fisher and William Ury, that can help you to negotiate an agreement in a civil way. The technique consists of five stages, or principles:

1. Separate the people from the problem.

2. Focus on interests, not positions.

3. Invent options for mutual gain.

4. Use objective criteria.

5. Know your BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement).

* From Getting to Yes 2/e, by Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton. Copyright © 1981, 1991 by Roger Fisher and William Ury. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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Module 11: Conflict and Negotiation

Stages of negotiation, learning outcomes.

  • Describe the stages in the process of negotiation

Negotiation, in simplified terms, is a five-step process. Those steps are shown in Figure 1.

First: Preparation and planning. Second: Definition and ground rules. Third: Clarification and justification. Fourth: Bargaining and problem solving. Fifth: Closure and implementation.

Figure 1. The five steps of negotiation

Let’s take deeper look into each step.

Preparation and Planning

In the preparation and planning stage, you (as a party in the negotiation) need to determine and clarify your own goals in the negotiation. This is a time when you take a moment to define and truly understand the terms and conditions of the exchange and the nature of the conflict. What do you want to walk away with?

You should also take this moment to anticipate the same for the other party. What are their goals in this negotiation? What will they ask for? Do they have any hidden agendas that may come as a surprise to you? What might they settle for, and how does that differ from the outcome you’re hoping for?

This is a time to develop a strategy for the negotiation. We’ll talk more about strategies in the next section.

Definition of Ground Rules

After the planning and strategy development stage is complete, it’s time to work with the other party to define the ground rules and procedures for the negotiation. This is the time when you and the other party will come to agreement on questions like

  •     Who will do the negotiating—will we do it personally or invite a third party?
  •     Where will the negotiation take place?
  •     Will there be time constraints placed on this negotiation process?
  •     Will there be any limits to the negotiation?
  •     If an agreement can’t be reached, will there be any specific process to handle that?

Usually it’s during this phase that the parties exchange their initial positions.

Clarification and Justification

Once initial positions have been exchanged, the clarification and justification stage can begin. Both you and the other party will explain, clarify, bolster and justify your original position or demands. For you, this is an opportunity to educate the other side on your position, and gain further understanding about the other party and how they feel about their side. You might each take the opportunity to explain how you arrived at your current position, and include any supporting documentation. Each party might take this opportunity to review the strategy they planned for the negotiation to determine if it’s still an appropriate approach.

This doesn’t need to be—and should not be—confrontational, though in some negotiations that’s hard to avoid. But if tempers are high moving into this portion of the negotiation process, then those emotions will start to come to a head here. It’s important for you to manage those emotions so serious bargaining can begin.

Bargaining and Problem Solving

This is the essence of the negotiation process, where the give and take begins.

You and the other party will use various negotiation strategies to achieve the goals established during the preparation and planning process. You will use all the information you gathered during the preparation and planning process to present your argument and strengthen your position, or even change your position if the other party’s argument is sound and makes sense.

The communication skills of active listening and feedback serve the parties of a negotiation well. It’s also important to stick to the issues and allow for an objective discussion to occur. Emotions should be kept under control. Eventually, both parties should come to an agreement.

Closure and Implementation

Once an agreement has been met, this is the stage in which procedures need to be developed to implement and monitor the terms of the agreement. They put all of the information into a format that’s acceptable to both parties, and they formalize it.

Formalizing the agreement can mean everything from a handshake to a written contract.

Practice question

Let’s take a look at this process in action. A team from a retail organization, Salesco, is looking to purchase widgets for resale directly to the consumer. You lead a team from WholesaleCo and are interested in negotiating an offer to sell these widgets to them at a wholesale cost.

  • Preparation and Planning.  You know that WholesaleCo will be going up against OtherCompany, who is likely to outbid you on price. You research, as best you can, the price and quantity OtherCompany is willing to come to the table with. You also know, from your earlier research, that Salesco is a company that values quality and if they’re going to say no to OtherCompany, it’ll be because they have a reputation for skimping on quality. Your company produces the better, but more expensive, widget. Armed with this information, you put together your proposal.
  • Definition of Ground Rules.  Salesco, as your customer, has let you know that they expect widgets to be manufactured and delivered in the first quarter of the following year. They’d like to sign with a 25% deposit. Your company usually requires 50% down, but you counter with 30%, provided you have a signed contract before the end of the year, which is approaching quickly. You offer Salesco your proposal. Salesco does not share OtherCompany’s offer.
  • Clarification and Justification.  Salesco wants to understand more about your deposit requirements, and you’d like to know if your offer is otherwise in the ballpark for them. You reiterate that you provided them the best price you could for the quality product you produce. Salesco assures you your offer is good but they’ll review it further with their legal team.
  • Bargaining and Problem Solving.  Salesco understands that WholesaleCo is not providing them the best price but that the quality they look to provide their customers will only come from WholesaleCo, and never OtherCompany. They’d still like to go with a 25% deposit because that’s all they have budgeted for the remainder of the fiscal year. As a representative of Wholesale, you offer to go with a 25% deposit if a second payment can be made at the beginning of the next quarter, which would allow them to pay it out of next year’s budget. Agreements are made.
  • Closure and Implementation.  WholesaleCo makes changes to the contract for the widgets and a representative from Salesco signs. The new contract outlines the changes in the deposit structure, and a full delivery schedule of widgets to Salesco’ distribution centers by an agreed-upon date.

The negotiation process is complete.

Books have been written, and classes have been taught on the art of negotiation. The ability to master negotiation strategy is a coveted skill in the business world. Now that we understand the basics of the negotiation process, let’s take a look at some of the negotiation “experts” that are out there and how they finesse the process to get the best results.

  • Stages of Negotiation. Authored by : Freedom Learning Group. Provided by : Lumen Learning. License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Image: Five Steps of Negotiation. Provided by : Lumen Learning. License : CC BY: Attribution

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What Is the Negotiation Process? 4 Steps

Two people shaking hands after a negotiation

  • 04 May 2023

Negotiation is part of daily life—whether buying a car, leasing property, aiming for higher compensation, raising capital for a startup, or making difficult decisions as an organizational leader.

“Enhancing your negotiation skills has an enormous payoff,” says Harvard Business School Professor Michael Wheeler in the online course Negotiation Mastery . “It allows you to reach agreements that might otherwise slip through your fingers. It allows you to expand the pie [and] create value, so you get more benefits from the agreements that you do reach. It also—in some cases—allows you to resolve small differences before they escalate into big conflicts.”

Here's an overview of the negotiation process’s four steps and how to gain the skills you need to negotiate successfully.

Access your free e-book today.

4 Steps of the Negotiation Process

4 Steps of the Negotiation Process

1. Preparation

Before entering a negotiation, you need to prepare. There are several things to define, including your:

  • Zone of possible agreement (ZOPA) : The range in which you and other parties can find common ground. To establish the ZOPA, think about your perspective and your counterpart’s. What do you each want and need? Where might you be willing to compromise?
  • Best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA) : Your ideal course of action if an agreement isn’t possible. To determine your BATNA, consider alternatives that provide some of the value you aim to gain from the negotiation. In Negotiation Mastery , Wheeler gives the example that if you can't negotiate down a new car’s price, your BATNA may be to have your old car repaired.
  • Walkaway: The line where ending negotiations is better than making a bad deal. Use your BATNA to determine your walkaway. At what point would the BATNA provide more value than a possible negotiated outcome? That’s your walkaway.
  • Stretch goal: The best-case scenario for the negotiation’s outcome. It’s critical to give the negotiation a potential ceiling to gauge offers. In Negotiation Mastery, Wheeler recommends choosing a scenario that’s unlikely but not impossible; something that has a 10 percent chance of occurring.

Preparing in advance can improve your confidence, give you clear goals to work toward, and provide a strategy to base your approach on.

2. Bargaining

The second step, bargaining, is what most often comes to mind when thinking about negotiation. Yet, before discussions even begin, there are three levers that determine how the bargaining stage will play out:

  • Engaging (the “who”): How do you engage with each other? Is this a friendly conversation, or do you fall into enemy territory?
  • Framing (the “what”): How do you define the negotiation? For instance, is it a battle, partnership, or problem to be solved together?
  • Norming (the “how”): How do you relate to one another? What behaviors are established that characterize the negotiation?

You typically define these levers in a negotiation’s first few minutes simultaneously. You negotiate the “who,” “what,” and “how” implicitly as the broader negotiation happens explicitly.

How do you and other parties enter the room? Do you greet each other warmly and make small talk, or is there immediate tension? How do you first mention the negotiation? What norms do you imply during the conversation?

Through these levers, you can establish the negotiation’s tone, which is vital as you head into it with someone who may greatly differ from you.

Your counterpart may have different preferences, expectations, risk tolerance, and time horizons. The bargaining stage is about creating value for both you and other parties despite your differences. It requires finding the ZOPA and working within that space to claim the value needed to make the negotiation worthwhile.

“There’s a fundamental tension between creating and claiming value,” Wheeler says in Negotiation Mastery . “Negotiation isn’t one or the other—it’s both at the same time.”

Related: 7 Negotiation Tactics That Actually Work

The third step in the negotiation process is closing—either coming to an agreement or ending the negotiation without reaching one.

How a negotiation closes depends on each party’s walkaway, BATNA, and ZOPA. It also relies on how you use engaging, framing, and norming to create a relationship with the other parties.

If you can’t reach a solution in the ZOPA, perhaps one or more parties decide to go for their BATNA instead. If you and the other parties create and claim value, you may strike a deal.

4. Learning from Your Experience

The final step of the negotiation process is possible to overlook but critical to your ongoing growth: Reflect on your experience. What went well? What went poorly, and why? How do you feel about the outcome?

No two negotiations are the same. The foundational elements can vary (such as the scenarios and people involved), as well as the finer details (for instance, people’s demeanors, emotions , walkaways, and BATNAs).

Reflecting on the process enables you to get to know yourself better as a negotiator and integrate your learnings into your next negotiation.

Which HBS Online Leadership and Management Course is Right for You? | Download Your Free Flowchart

What Skills Do You Need for Successful Negotiation?

Even after learning about the negotiation process, negotiations can still feel intimidating. To gain confidence, it can help to understand the skills that great negotiators possess .

The best negotiators are strong communicators with high emotional intelligence . Developing your skills in those areas can help you form connections with counterparts and communicate goals. They can also enable you to craft a strategy and remain agile as a negotiation progresses.

“Great negotiators have keen analytical skills,” Wheeler says in Negotiation Mastery . “They assess the matter at hand and craft strategy that best fits those particular circumstances. They know that with negotiation strategy, one size doesn’t fit all.”

Finally, you must create value. As Wheeler puts it in the course: You know how to “expand the pie” rather than argue for a bigger slice—creating value for everyone involved while still achieving your goals.

To learn more about the skills needed for successful negotiation, check out the video below and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more explainer content!

How to Become a Better Negotiator

Familiarizing yourself with the negotiation process and what each step entails can demystify it and help you feel more comfortable.

The best way to improve your negotiation skills is through practice. This can take place in real life through interactions like determining a lease’s terms or asking for your desired salary in job interviews.

If you’d prefer to practice in a supportive learning environment, consider enrolling in an online negotiation course featuring virtual simulations.

In Negotiation Mastery , Wheeler leads you through negotiation practice by pairing you with other learners for mock negotiations. He then debriefs each scenario so you can reflect on it and integrate the insights into future negotiations.

Through thoughtful preparation and dedicated practice, you can strengthen your skills and create value in any negotiation.

Do you want to deepen your understanding of negotiation dynamics? Explore our eight-week online course Negotiation Mastery , one of our online leadership and management certificate programs . Not sure which course is right for you? Download our free flowchart .

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24 Conflict and Negotiation

Learning Objectives

  • Define conflict
  • Differentiate between functional and dysfunctional conflict
  • Recognize various types of conflict in groups
  • Describe the conflict process
  • Identify and apply strategies for preventing or reducing conflict in groups

Definitions of Conflict

Hocker and Wilmot (2001) defined conflict as an expressed struggle between interdependent parties over goals which they perceive as incompatible or resources which they perceive to be insufficient. Let’s examine the ingredients in their definition.

First of all, conflict must be expressed. If two members of a group dislike each other or disagree with each other’s viewpoints but never show those sentiments, there’s no conflict.

Second, conflict takes place between or among parties who are interdependent—that is, who need each other to accomplish something. If they can get what they want without each other, they may differ in how they do so, but they won’t come into conflict.

Finally, conflict involves clashes over what people want or over the means for them to achieve it. Party A wants X, whereas party B wants Y. If they either can’t both have what they want at all, or they can’t each have what they want to the degree that they would prefer to, conflict will arise.

The Positive and Negative Sides of Conflict

There are some circumstances in which a moderate amount of conflict can be helpful. For example, conflict can stimulate innovation and change. Conflict can help individuals and group members grow and develop self-identities. As noted by Coser (1956):

Conflict, which aims at a resolution of tension between antagonists, is likely to have stabilizing and integrative functions for the relationship. By permitting immediate and direct expression of rival claims, such social systems are able to readjust their structures by eliminating their sources of dissatisfaction. The multiple conflicts which they experience may serve to eliminate the causes for dissociation and to re-establish unity. These systems avail themselves, through the toleration and institutionalization of conflict, of an important stabilizing mechanism.

Conflict can have negative consequences when people divert energies away from performance and goal attainment and direct them toward resolving the conflict. Continued conflict can take a heavy toll in terms of psychological well-being. Conflict has a major influence on stress and the psychophysical consequences of stress. Finally, continued conflict can also affect the social climate of the group and inhibit group cohesiveness.

Boxing gloves sit on the floor

Thus, conflict can be either functional or dysfunctional depending upon the nature of the conflict, its intensity, and its duration. Indeed, both too much and too little conflict can lead to a variety of negative outcomes, as discussed above. This is shown in Figure 1 . In such circumstances, a moderate amount of conflict may be the best course of action. The issue for groups, therefore, is not how to eliminate conflict but rather how to manage and resolve it when it occurs.

A graph representing the relationship between conflict intensity and outcomes.

Types of Conflict

Group conflicts may deal with many topics, needs, and elements. Kelly (2006) identified the following five types of conflict:

First, there are conflicts of substance . These conflicts, which relate to questions about what choices to make in a given situation, rest on differing views of the facts. If Terry thinks the biology assignment requires an annotated bibliography but Robin believes a simple list of readings will suffice, they’re in a conflict of substance. Another term for this kind of conflict is “intrinsic conflict.”

Conflicts of value are those in which various parties either hold totally different values or rank the same values in a significantly different order. The famous sociologist Milton Rokeach (1979), for instance, found that freedom and equality constitute values in the four major political systems of the past 100 years—communism, fascism, socialism, and capitalism. What differentiated the systems, however, was the degree to which proponents of each system ranked those two key values. According to Rokeach’s analysis, socialism holds both values highly; fascism holds them in low regard; communism values equality over freedom, and capitalism values freedom over equality. As we all know, conflict among proponents of these four political systems preoccupied people and governments for the better part of the twentieth century.

Conflicts of process arise when people differ over how to reach goals or pursue values which they share. How closely should they stick to rules and timelines, for instance, and when should they let their hair down and simply brainstorm new ideas? What about when multiple topics and challenges are intertwined; how and when should the group deal with each one? Another term for these disputes is “task conflicts.”

Conflicts of misperceived differences come up when people interpret each other’s actions or emotions erroneously. You can probably think of several times in your life when you first thought you disagreed with other people but later found out that you’d just misunderstood something they said and that you actually shared a perspective with them. Or perhaps you attributed a different motive to them than what really underlay their actions. One misconception about conflict, however, is that it always arises from misunderstandings. This isn’t the case, however. Robert Doolittle (1976) noted that “some of the most serious conflicts occur among individuals and groups who understand each other very well but who strongly disagree.”

The first four kinds of conflict may interact with each other over time, either reinforcing or weakening each other’s impact. They may also ebb and flow according to the topics and conditions a group confronts. Even if they’re dealt with well, however, further emotional and personal kinds of conflict can occur in a group. Relationship conflicts , also known as personality clashes, often involve people’s egos and sense of self-worth. Relationship conflicts tend to be particularly difficult to cope with since they frequently aren’t admitted for what they are. Many times, they arise in a struggle for superiority or status.

A Model of the Conflict Process

The most commonly accepted model of the conflict process was developed by Kenneth Thomas (1976). This model consists of four stages: (1) frustration, (2) conceptualization, (3) behavior, and (4) outcome.

Stage 1: Frustration

As we have seen, conflict situations originate when an individual or group feels frustration  in the pursuit of important goals. This frustration may be caused by a wide variety of factors, including disagreement over performance goals, failure to get a promotion or pay raise, a fight over scarce economic resources, new rules or policies, and so forth. In fact, conflict can be traced to frustration over almost anything a group or individual cares about.

Stage 2: Conceptualization

In stage 2, the conceptualization stage of the model, parties to the conflict attempt to understand the nature of the problem, what they themselves want as a resolution, what they think their opponents want as a resolution, and various strategies they feel each side may employ in resolving the conflict. This stage is really the problem-solving and strategy phase. For instance, when management and union negotiate a labor contract, both sides attempt to decide what is most important and what can be bargained away in exchange for these priority needs.

Stage 3: Behavior

The third stage in Thomas’s model is actual  behavior . As a result of the conceptualization process, parties to a conflict attempt to implement their resolution mode by competing or accommodating in the hope of resolving problems. A major task here is determining how best to proceed strategically. That is, what tactics will the party use to attempt to resolve the conflict? Thomas has identified five modes for conflict resolution: (1) competing, (2) collaborating, (3) compromising, (4) avoiding, and (5) accommodating (see Table 1 ).

The choice of an appropriate conflict resolution mode depends to a great extent on the situation and the goals of the party  (see Figure 2 ). According to this model, each party must decide the extent to which it is interested in satisfying its own concerns—called assertiveness —and the extent to which it is interested in helping satisfy the opponent’s concerns—called  cooperativeness . Assertiveness can range from assertive to unassertive on one continuum, and cooperativeness can range from uncooperative to cooperative on the other continuum.

Once the parties have determined their desired balance between the two competing concerns—either consciously or unconsciously—the resolution strategy emerges. For example, if a union negotiator feels confident she can win on an issue that is of primary concern to union members (e.g., wages), a direct competition mode may be chosen (see the upper left-hand corner of Figure 2 ). On the other hand, when the union is indifferent to an issue or when it actually supports management’s concerns (e.g., plant safety), we would expect an accommodating or collaborating mode (on the right-hand side of the figure).

A diagram illustrating approaches to conflict resolution.

What is interesting in this process is the assumptions people make about their own modes compared to their opponents’. For example, in one study of executives, it was found that the executives typically described themselves as using collaboration or compromise to resolve conflict, whereas these same executives typically described their opponents as using a competitive mode almost exclusively (Thomas & Pondy, 1967). In other words, the executives underestimated their opponents’ concerns as uncompromising. Simultaneously, the executives had flattering portraits of their own willingness to satisfy both sides in a dispute.

Stage 4: Outcome. Finally, as a result of efforts to resolve the conflict, both sides determine the extent to which a satisfactory resolution or outcome has been achieved. Where one party to the conflict does not feel satisfied or feels only partially satisfied, the seeds of discontent are sown for a later conflict, as shown in the preceding figure. One unresolved conflict episode can easily set the stage for a second episode. Action aimed at achieving quick and satisfactory resolution is vital; failure to initiate such action leaves the possibility (more accurately, the probability) that new conflicts will soon emerge.


Have you ever seen red, or perceived a situation through rage, anger, or frustration? Then you know that you cannot see or think clearly when you are experiencing strong emotions. There will be times in groups and teams when emotions run high, and your awareness of them can help you clear your mind and choose to wait until the moment has passed to tackle the challenge. This is an example of a time when avoiding can be a useful strategy, at least temporarily.

Emotions can be contagious, and fear of the unknown can influence people to act in irrational ways. The wise communicator can recognize when emotions are on edge in themselves or others, and choose to wait to communicate, problem-solve, or negotiate until after the moment has passed.

Bach and Wyden (1968) discuss gunnysacking (or backpacking) as the imaginary bag we all carry, into which we place unresolved conflicts or grievances over time. Holding onto the way things used to be can be like a stone in your gunnysack, and influence how you interpret your current context.

People may be aware of similar issues but might not know your history, and cannot see your backpack or its contents. For example, if you are used to things one way, and a group member handles them differently, this may cause you some degree of stress and frustration. Bottling up your frustrations only hurts you and can cause your relationships within the group to suffer. By addressing, or unpacking, the stones you carry, you can better assess the current situation with the current patterns and variables.

Preventing and Reducing Conflict

There are many things group members can do to reduce or actually solve dysfunctional conflict when it occurs. These generally fall into two categories: actions directed at conflict prevention  and actions directed at conflict  reduction.

Strategies for Conflict Prevention

We shall start by examining conflict prevention techniques because preventing conflict is often easier than reducing it once it begins. These include:

  • Emphasizing group goals and effectiveness. Focusing on group goals and objectives should prevent goal conflict. If larger goals are emphasized, group members are more likely to see the big picture and work together to achieve corporate goals.
  • Providing stable, well-structured tasks. When work activities are clearly defined, understood, and accepted, conflict should be less likely to occur. Conflict is most likely to occur when task uncertainty is high; specifying or structuring roles and tasks minimizes ambiguity.
  • Facilitating dialogue. Misperception of the abilities, goals, and motivations of others often leads to conflict, so efforts to increase the dialogue among group members and to share information should help eliminate conflict. As group members come to know more about one another, suspicions often diminish, and greater intergroup teamwork becomes possible.
  • Avoiding win-lose situations. If win-lose situations are avoided, less potential for conflict exists.

Strategies for Conflict Reduction

Where dysfunctional conflict already exists, something must be done, and you may pursue one of at least two general approaches: you can try to change attitudes, or you can try to behaviors . If you change behavior, open conflict is often reduced, but group members may still dislike one another; the conflict simply becomes less visible. Changing attitudes, on the other hand, often leads to fundamental changes in the ways that groups get along. However, it also takes considerably longer to accomplish than behavior change because it requires a fundamental change in social perceptions.

Nine conflict reduction strategies are discussed below. The techniques should be viewed as a continuum, ranging from strategies that focus on changing behaviors near the top of the scale to strategies that focus on changing attitudes near the bottom of the scale.

  • Physical separation. The quickest and easiest solution to conflict is physical separation. Separation is useful when conflicting individuals or groups are not working on a joint task or do not need a high degree of interaction. Though this approach does not encourage members to change their attitudes, it does provide time to seek a better accommodation.
  • Use of rules and regulations. Conflict can also be reduced through the increasing specification of rules, regulations, and procedures. Again, however, basic attitudes are not modified.
  • Limiting intergroup interaction. Another approach to reducing conflict is to limit intergroup interaction to issues involving common goals. Where groups agree on a goal, cooperation becomes easier.
  • Use of integrators. Integrators are individuals who are assigned a boundary-spanning role between two people or groups. To be trusted, integrators must be perceived by both groups as legitimate and knowledgeable. The integrator often takes the “shuttle diplomacy” approach, moving from one person or group to another, identifying areas of agreement, and attempting to find areas of future cooperation.
  • Confrontation and negotiation.  In this approach, competing parties are brought together face-to-face to discuss their basic areas of disagreement. The hope is that through open discussion and  negotiation , means can be found to work out problems. Contract negotiations between unions and management represent one such example. If a “win-win” solution can be identified through these negotiations, the chances of an acceptable resolution of the conflict increase.
  • Third-party consultation.  In some cases, it is helpful to bring in outside consultants for  third-party consultation who understand human behavior and can facilitate a resolution. A third-party consultant not only serves as a go-between but can speak more directly to the issues because she is not a member of the group.
  • Rotation of members.  By rotating from one group to another, individuals come to understand the frames of reference, values, and attitudes of other members; communication is thus increased. When those rotated are accepted by the receiving groups, change in attitudes as well as behavior becomes possible. This is clearly a long-term technique, as it takes time to develop good interpersonal relations and understanding among group members.
  • Identification of interdependent tasks and superordinate goals. A further strategy is to establish goals that require groups to work together to achieve overall success.
  • Use of training. The final technique on the continuum is training. Outside training experts are retained on a long-term basis to help groups develop relatively permanent mechanisms for working together. Structured workshops and training programs can help forge more favorable intergroup attitudes and, as a result, more constructive group behavior.

Review & Reflection Questions

  • Is conflict in groups good or bad? Why?
  • Identify the types of conflict and provide examples of each.
  • What modes of conflict resolution do you find yourself using when faced with a conflict in a group? What modes have you observed at work in your current group?
  • What strategies could you use to prevent or reduce conflict in your group?
  • Bach, G., & Wyden, P. (1968). The intimacy enemy. Avon.
  • Brown, D. L. (1986). Managing conflict at organizational interfaces. Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., Inc.
  • Coser, L. (1956). The functions of social conflict. Free Press.
  • Doolittle, R.J. (1976). Orientations to communication and conflict. Science Research Associates.
  • Hocker, J.L., & Wilmot, W.W. (2001). Interpersonal conflict (6 th ed.). McGraw-Hill.
  • Kelly, M.S. (2006). Communication @ work: Ethical, effective, and expressive communication in the workplace . Pearson.
  • Neilsen, E.H. (1972). Understanding and managing conflict. In J. Lorsch & P. Lawrence (Eds.), Managing group and intergroup relations. Irwin.
  • Rokeach, M. (1979). Understanding human values: Individual and societal. The Free Press.
  • Thomas, K. (1976). Conflict and conflict management. In M. D. Dunnette (Ed.), Handbook of industrial and organizational behavior. Wiley.
  • Thomas, K., & Pondy, L. (1967). Toward an intent model of conflict management among principal parties. Human Relations, 30, 1089–1102.

Authors & Attribution

The sections “The Positive and Negative Sides of Conflict,” “A Model of the Conflict Process,” and “Managing Conflict in Groups” are adapted from Black, J.S., & Bright, D.S. (2019). Organizational behavior. OpenStax. . Access the full chapter for free here . The content is available under a Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 license .

The sections “Definitions of Conflict,” “Types of Conflict” and “Recognizing Emotion” are adapted from is adapted from “ Managing Conflict ” from An Introduction To Group Communication . This content is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensor.

This remix comes from Dr. Jasmine Linabary at Emporia State University. This chapter is also available in her book:  Small Group Communication: Forming and Sustaining Teams.

an expressed struggle between interdependent parties over goals which they perceive as incompatible or resources which they perceive to be insufficient.

conflicts related to questions about what choices to make in a given situation, rest on differing views of the facts

Conflicts in which various parties either hold totally different values or rank the same values in a significantly different order

Conflicts about how to reach goals or pursue values which they share

hen people interpret each other’s actions or emotions erroneously.

Personality-driven conflicts which involve personal attributes or characteristics and which challenge people's egos or self-worth

the imaginary bag we all carry, into which we place unresolved conflicts or grievances over time leading to frustration and influencing how we interpret actions

Problem Solving in Teams and Groups Copyright © 2021 by Cameron W. Piercy, Ph.D. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Competitive Bargaining vs. Cooperative Problem-Solving

One of the biggest challenges of negotiation is that there are two different approaches that call for opposite strategies: competitive bargaining and cooperative problem-solving. This section gives an overview of both approaches and provides a rationale for why only one of them is appropriate for international conferences.

Competitive Bargaining

Historically, the word negotiation means “business,” and negotiation has a major role in business transactions.

The crudest form of negotiation in an international conference resembles crude commercial negotiations, for example, when you are trying to buy or sell a second-hand car and the only point at issue is the price. In that case, the buyer wants to pay as little as possible, while the seller wants to receive as much as possible. A gain by one party means an equal loss by the other. This type of negotiation is sometimes referred to as “competitive bargaining.” It has been extensively studied over the centuries by traders everywhere and, more recently, in business schools.

You probably already understand this form of negotiation. The essential feature is that each party receives something that they accept as the outcome of the negotiation. At the simplest, they would receive equal shares; but the issues before international conferences are generally far too complex for that and the needs and capabilities of the nations concerned are too varied for any simple equilibrium. Instead, at the international level, the balance to be found is between trade-offs, in which not only the quantity but also the nature of what different parties receive is different.

Each party is concerned primarily to maximize its own gains and minimize the cost to themselves.

Then some important tactical principles come to the fore:

  • Always ask for more than you expect to get. Think of some of the things asked for as “negotiating coin” that you can trade away in order to achieve your aim. You can also assume that the other party does not expect to get everything they ask for and that some of their requests are only negotiating coin.
  • You might even start by demanding things you do not really hope to achieve, but which you know other parties strongly oppose. By doing so, you may hope that the other parties will make concessions to you just to refrain from pressing such demands.
  • Always hide your “bottom line.” Because the other party’s aim is to concede to you as little as possible, you may get more if they are not aware of how little is acceptable to you.
  • Take early and give late. Negotiators often undervalue whatever is decided in the early part of the negotiation and place excessive weight on whatever is agreed towards the end of the negotiation.
  • As the negotiation progresses, carefully manage the “concession rate.” If you “concede” things to the other party too slowly, they many lose hope of achieving a satisfactory agreement; but if you “concede” too fast, they could end up with more than you needed to give them.
  • The points at issue are seen as having the same worth for both sides—although they rarely do.

Precepts of this kind can readily generate a competitive or even combative spirit and encourage negotiators to consider a loss by their counterparts as a gain for themselves. It should be evident that such sentiments at the international level are harmful to relations and thus to the prospects of cooperation and mutual tolerance.

Cooperative Problem-Solving

An entirely different style of negotiation is more common in international conferences than “competitive bargaining,” both because it is generally more productive and is widely seen as more appropriate in dealings between representatives of sovereign States. This style of negotiation starts from the premise that you both have an interest in reaching agreement and therefore an interest in making proposals that the other is likely to agree to. In other words, each has an interest in the other(s) also being satisfied.

Achieving your objective requires that you also work to achieve the objectives of the other party (or parties)—to the extent that such effort is compatible with your objectives. The same applies to your counterpart(s): it is in their interest to satisfy you to the maximum extent possible. This makes negotiation a cooperative effort to find an outcome that is attractive to all parties.

To succeed in this type of negotiation, principles apply which are quite contrary to those that apply in “competitive bargaining,” namely:

  • It is important not to request concessions from the other side that you know are impossible for them. If you do so, they will find it difficult to believe that you are genuinely working for an agreement.
  • It is in your interest that the other party should understand your position. Indeed, perhaps they should even know your “bottom line.” If they understand how close they are to that “bottom line” on one point, they will also understand the necessity to include other elements that you value to give you an incentive to agree.
  • Sometimes it is in your interest to “give” a lot to the other side early in the negotiation process to give them a strong incentive to conclude the negotiation and therefore “give” you what you need to be able to reach agreement.
  • The “concession rate” may not be important.
  • There is a premium on understanding that the same points have different values for different negotiators and on finding additional points on which to satisfy them.
  • The Chair's Activities in Guiding the Work of a Committee
  • ‹ Negotiation
  • Characteristics of Winning Proposals ›

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Team-Building Strategies: Building a Winning Team for Your Organization

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Top 10 Negotiation Skills You Must Learn to Succeed

Absorb these integrative negotiation skills to improve your outcomes..

By Katie Shonk — on May 7th, 2024 / Negotiation Skills

problem solving negotiation strategy example

Increasingly, business negotiators recognize that the most effective bargainers are skilled at both creating value and claiming value—that is, they both collaborate and compete. The following 10 negotiation skills will help you succeed at integrative negotiation :

Negotiation Skills

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Build powerful negotiation skills and become a better dealmaker and leader. Download 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.

1. Analyze and cultivate your BATNA. In both integrative negotiation and adversarial bargaining , your best source of power is your ability and willingness to walk away and take another deal. Before arriving at the bargaining table, wise negotiators spend significant time identifying their best alternative to a negotiated agreement, or BATNA, and taking steps to improve it.

2. Negotiate the process. Don’t assume you’re both on the same page when it comes to determining when to meet, who should be present, what your agenda will be, and so on. Instead, carefully negotiate how you will negotiate in advance. Discussing such procedural issues will clear the way for much more focused talks.

3. Build rapport. Although it’s not always feasible to engage in small talk at the start of a negotiation (particularly if you’re on a tight deadline), doing so can bring real benefits, research shows. You and your counterpart may be more collaborative and likely to reach an agreement if you spend even just a few minutes trying to get to know each other. If you’re negotiating over email, even a brief introductory phone call may make a difference. This is one of the most valuable negotiation skills to master.

4. Listen actively. Once you start discussing substance, resist the common urge to think about what you’re going to say next while your counterpart is talking. Instead, listen carefully to her arguments, then paraphrase what you believe she said to check your understanding. Acknowledge any difficult feelings, like frustration, behind the message. Not only are you likely to acquire valuable information, but the other party may mimic your exemplary listening skills.

5. Ask good questions. You can gain more in integrative negotiation by asking lots of questions—ones that are likely to get helpful answers. Avoid asking “yes or no” questions and leading questions, such as “Don’t you think that’s a great idea?” Instead, craft neutral questions that encourage detailed responses, such as “Can you tell me about the challenges you’re facing this quarter?”

6. Search for smart tradeoffs. In a distributive negotiation, parties are often stuck making concessions and demands on a single issue, such as price. In integrative negotiation, you can capitalize on the presence of multiple issues to get both sides more of what they want. Specifically, try to identify issues that your counterpart cares deeply about that you value less. Then propose making a concession on that issue in exchange for a concession from her on an issue you value highly.

7. Be aware of the anchoring bias. Ample research shows that the first number mentioned in a negotiation, however arbitrary, exerts a powerful influence on the negotiation that follows. You can avoid being the next victim of the anchoring bias by making the first offer (or offers) and trying to anchor talks in your preferred direction. If the other side does anchor first, keep your aspirations and BATNA at the forefront of your mind, pausing to revisit them as needed.

8. Present multiple equivalent offers simultaneously (MESOs). Rather than making one offer at a time, consider presenting several offers at once. If your counterpart rejects all of them, ask him to tell you which one he liked best and why. Then work on your own to improve the offer, or try to brainstorm with the other party an option that pleases you both. This strategy of presenting multiple offers simultaneously decreases the odds of impasse and can promote more creative solutions.

9. Try a contingent contract. Negotiators often get stuck because they disagree about how a certain scenario will play out over time. In such cases, try proposing a contingent contract—in essence, a bet about how future events will unfold. For example, if you doubt a contractor’s claims that he can finish your home renovation project in three months, propose a contingent contract that will penalize him for late completion and/or reward him for early completion. If he truly believes his claims, he should have no problem accepting such terms.

10. Plan for the implementation stage. Another way to improve the long-term durability of your contract is to place milestones and deadlines in your contract to ensure that commitments are being met. You might also agree, in writing, to meet at regular intervals throughout the life of the contract to check in and, if necessary, renegotiate. In addition, adding a dispute-resolution clause that calls for the use of mediation or arbitration if a conflict arises can be a wise move.

What negotiation skills would you add to this list? Leave us a comment.

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No Responses to “Top 10 Negotiation Skills You Must Learn to Succeed”

13 responses to “top 10 negotiation skills you must learn to succeed”.

Great article! Will try to learn these skills!

What has fascinated me since I attended Dr. Mandell’s class is the extent to which negotiation permeates our daily lives. It appears that many individuals are unaware of just how many things are, or should ideally be, outcomes of negotiation. Too often, people assume that negotiation only occurs when parties explicitly declare, ‘We are now going to negotiate.’ When I delivered a presentation based on what I learned in class, it took some time for the audience to recognize how numerous aspects of both their professional and personal lives are shaped by implicit negotiation.

Extremely helpful information.

What has been interesting to me since I took Dr. Mandell’s class is how much negotiation is part of everyday life. Few people seem to realize how many things are, or at least should be, the result of a negotiation. Too many think that no negotiation is involved unless the parties say, “OK, we are going to now negotiate.” I gave a talk based on what I learned in class and it took a while for people to see how many more aspects of both their professional and personal lives are the result of implicit negotiation.

I would like to have permission to pass your 10 skills along to some of our top business customers. Would that be possible?

Hello, All of our content is free and can be passed along.

Please send me more information.

Hello, You can find more information about our courses in the Executive Education section of our website.

Except when it’s a ridiculously low offer. Your opponent will always find a way to justify even a ridiculous offer, and, if you start a conversation on such an offer, you have been anchored! Find a way to ignore the low offer, such as pretending you didn’t hear it?

Have a well planned concession strategy: 1. Take the time to think about what concessions the other side might ask of you. 2. Leave yourself room – this means you better understand how to anchor and where your target is for a great outcome. 3. Rationalize your concessions to avoid the” buffoon factor” and cause credibility loss. You don’t want to be arbitrary. 4. Take careful consideration on how big or small your concessions should be…there is an entire process for this. 5. Ask for something in return…this should be an exchange of valuable assets to help both parties meet their most important priorities.

With regards to anchoring if you are victim to it, an effective antidote is to insist on justification by asking “it would be helpful to us if you could explain how you arrived at that value?”. This completely neutralizes the anchoring effect! Try it! It works like magic!!

I had a book of yours it was a short read, concise, I loved it! Thank u! Management book from Barnes n noble.

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problem solving negotiation strategy example

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Preparing for negotiation.

Understanding how to arrange the meeting space is a key aspect of preparing for negotiation. In this video, Professor Guhan Subramanian discusses a real world example of how seating arrangements can influence a negotiator’s success. This discussion was held at the 3 day executive education workshop for senior executives at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.

Guhan Subramanian is the Professor of Law and Business at the Harvard Law School and Professor of Business Law at the Harvard Business School.

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problem solving negotiation strategy example


  1. 4 Steps of the Negotiation Process

    problem solving negotiation strategy example

  2. Negotiation Style Model

    problem solving negotiation strategy example

  3. Understanding the 5-Step Negotiation Process (+Tips)

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  4. How to deal with different negotiator styles

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  5. 27 Conflict Resolution Skills to Use with Your Team and Your Customers

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  6. Joint problem solving negotiation tactics

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  1. Negotiation is Problem Solving, explained by 20 years experienced expert

  2. Negotiation skills: Creative Problem Solving in Negotiation

  3. How to handle challenging situations with stakeholders?

  4. Patient and Understanding Conversation is the key

  5. Customer Support Specialist : Effective Conflict Solutions 18

  6. Negotiation Process/ Process of Negotiation


  1. 4 Examples of Business Negotiation Strategies

    4 Steps of Negotiation in Business. The negotiation process comprises four steps: 1. Preparation. Before the negotiation, define your: Zone of possible agreement (ZOPA): The range in which you and other parties can find common ground. Best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA): Your ideal course of action if an agreement isn't possible.

  2. What's Your Negotiation Strategy?

    Many people don't tackle negotiations in a proactive way; instead, they simply react to moves the other side makes. While that approach may work in a lot of instances, complex deals demand a ...

  3. What is a Problem Solving Approach?

    The problem-solving approach to negotiation includes three tenets to help parties build relationships and negotiate constructively. The problem-solving approach to negotiation is an approach first articulated in the book Getting to YES, written by Roger Fisher and William Ury. The problem-solving approach argues that (1) negotiators should work ...

  4. 10 Top Negotiation Examples

    By PON Staff — on February 15th, 2024 / Negotiation Skills. Real-world negotiation examples can help us learn from the past and avoid repeating others' mistakes. Here's a recap of 10 real-world negotiation examples across government and industry that provide negotiation lessons for all business negotiators. 10. The Mortgage Foreclosure ...

  5. 5 Win-Win Negotiation Strategies

    Win-win negotiation strategy #3: Try a contingent agreement. In negotiation, parties often reach impasse because they have different beliefs about the likelihood of future events. You might be convinced that your firm will deliver a project on time and under budget, for example, but the client may view your proposal as unrealistic.

  6. How to Use Problem-Solving in Negotiations: A Guide

    1. Identify the problem. 2. Generate alternatives. 3. Evaluate and select. 4. Implement and monitor. Be the first to add your personal experience.

  7. Problem-Solving Negotiation Strategy: How to Find Creative Solutions

    In this blog post, we will share how to approach negotiations with a problem-solving mindset, and offer tips on how to find creative solutions to complex issues. We'll emphasize the importance ...

  8. 4 Different Approaches to Negotiation

    Empathizing with a negotiating partner can be difficult, but doing so is crucial to successful outcomes. Using this negotiation technique is generally the most cooperative approach and best for problem-solving. Don't forget to balance your empathic tendencies with your ability to assert yourself, which is essential to achieving a positive ...

  9. Creating a Problem Solving Negotiation Strategy

    The Logical Approach. Logic is a system of reasoning and an excellent tool as a creative negotiation strategy to solve negotiation problems. Let's follow the process below. Know the problem - Again, this is a vital step. We have to try and answer the following questions as best we can.

  10. PDF Rational Decision-Making in Problem-Solving Negotiation: Compromise

    A. Problem-solving and Competitive Negotiation Compared In competitive or distributional bargaining, parties compete or fight over presumed fixed sums or positions to get the most for themselves out of a deal -- "to win." In problem-solving bargaining, however, the ne-gotiators seek ways of satisfying the interests of all parties.

  11. 4 Types of Negotiation Strategies (With Tips and Examples)

    4 types of negotiation. Below is a list of negotiation types: 1. Principled negotiation. Principled negotiation is a type of bargaining that uses the parties' principles and interests to reach an agreement. This type of negotiation often focuses on conflict resolution. This type of bargaining uses an integrative negotiation approach to serve ...

  12. Win-Win Negotiation

    4. Use Objective Criteria. This isn't just "setting out the facts," as different underlying needs, interests, opinions, and goals can cause people to interpret facts differently, or cause you to select only those facts that support your position.. For example, during an interdepartmental negotiation in your company about the launch date of a new product, you become convinced that rushing it to ...

  13. Stages of Negotiation

    Bargaining and Problem Solving. This is the essence of the negotiation process, where the give and take begins. You and the other party will use various negotiation strategies to achieve the goals established during the preparation and planning process. You will use all the information you gathered during the preparation and planning process to ...

  14. 4 Steps of the Negotiation Process

    3. Closing. The third step in the negotiation process is closing—either coming to an agreement or ending the negotiation without reaching one. How a negotiation closes depends on each party's walkaway, BATNA, and ZOPA. It also relies on how you use engaging, framing, and norming to create a relationship with the other parties.


    Joint decision-making perspective. • Emphasizes the opportunities for cooperation between parties. • Negotiators use communication to facilitate the drafting of joint agreements that benefit of both sides. • Helps you avoid falling into the trap of negotiating solely on the basis of what is individually rational.

  16. Conflict and Negotiation

    This stage is really the problem-solving and strategy phase. For instance, when management and union negotiate a labor contract, both sides attempt to decide what is most important and what can be bargained away in exchange for these priority needs. Stage 3: Behavior. The third stage in Thomas's model is actual behavior. As a result of the ...

  17. PDF An Overview of Negotiating Strategies

    An Overview of Negotiating Strategies ... purpose is to solve a problem; getting two or more people (or groups of people) to decide on a course of action to accomplish a goal. Virtually every problem-solving process involves some aspect of negotiations. Practically speaking, Air Force personnel engage daily in negotiations with

  18. 3 Negotiation Strategies for Conflict Resolution

    The following three negotiation strategies for conflict resolution from the realm of business negotiation can help parties mend their partnership, avoid the expense of a lawsuit, and even create value. 1. Avoid being provoked into an emotional response. Negotiators make several "moves" to question each other's legitimacy and assert their ...

  19. Win-Win Strategies in Negotiation: Benefits and Challenges

    The goal of a win-win, or integrative, negotiation is a mutually acceptable deal or contract that benefits all parties involved. During win-win negotiations, all parties agree to collaborate for the benefit of individuals and the group. Cooperation and compromise are critical components of any win-win strategy.

  20. Competitive Bargaining vs. Cooperative problem solving

    Cooperative Problem-Solving. An entirely different style of negotiation is more common in international conferences than "competitive bargaining," both because it is generally more productive ...

  21. Four Negotiation Strategies

    The problem-solving approach is closer to Compromising than Competing in that it starts from a position of respect for the other party. A person using this approach does not see the other person as competitor or threat, but rather as a person who has legitimate wants and needs, and that the goal of negotiation is less to make trades and more to ...

  22. Top 10 Negotiation Skills

    1. Analyze and cultivate your BATNA. In both integrative negotiation and adversarial bargaining, your best source of power is your ability and willingness to walk away and take another deal.Before arriving at the bargaining table, wise negotiators spend significant time identifying their best alternative to a negotiated agreement, or BATNA, and taking steps to improve it.

  23. Shortcuts to Cooperative Negotiating Strategies

    The Basics. 1. Everything is a negotiation - sometimes you negotiate with yourself (like when to get up on a Saturday morning after a tough week), but most often you negotiate with others to solve problems. As with anything in life, a little bit of planning goes a long way. 2.

  24. Master Salary Negotiations with Problem Solving Skills

    5 Communication Skills. The clarity and tone of your negotiation email or letter are critical. Use precise language and a professional tone to convey your points without coming across as demanding ...