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HBR Guide to Negotiating (HBR Guide Series)

HBR Guide to Negotiating (HBR Guide Series)

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HBR Guide to Negotiating (HBR Guide Series)

5/5 (1 valutazione)
185 pagine
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Jan 26, 2016


Forget about the hard bargain.

Whether you’re discussing the terms of a high-stakes deal, forming a key partnership, asking for a raise, or planning a family event, negotiating can be stressful. One person makes a demand, the other concedes a point. In the end, you settle on a subpar solution in the middle—if you come to any agreement at all.

But these discussions don’t need to be win-or-lose situations. Written by negotiation expert Jeff Weiss, the HBR Guide to Negotiating provides a disciplined approach to finding a solution that works for everyone involved. Using a seven-part framework, this book delivers tips and advice to move you from a game of concessions and compromises to one of collaboration and creativity, resulting in better outcomes and better working relationships. You’ll learn how to:

  • Prepare for your conversation
  • Understand everyone’s interests
  • Craft the right message
  • Work with multiple parties
  • Disarm aggressive negotiators
  • Choose the best solution
Jan 26, 2016

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HBR Guide to Negotiating (HBR Guide Series) - Jeff Weiss



Negotiation is about creativity, not compromise.

Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re negotiating all the time. When you ask your boss for more resources, agree with a vendor on a price, deliver a performance evaluation, convince a business partner to join forces with your company, or even decide with your spouse where to go on your next vacation, you’re taking a potentially conflict-filled conversation and working toward a joint solution. That’s what a negotiation is—a situation in which two parties with potentially competing incentives and goals come together to create a solution that satisfies everyone.

It’s not just high-stakes, months-long discussions that warrant a thoughtful approach. Improving your ability to handle all of these situations pays off. This means honing skills such as conflict management (as you’d expect) and creative thinking (which you might not), both of which are critical to reaching mutually beneficial decisions.

I’ve heard many people say that being a good negotiator is about thinking quickly on your feet or being a better orator or debater than your counterpart. Sure, those things are helpful. But the best negotiators—the ones who most often get what they want—are those who are the most prepared and the most creative.

This guide will help you develop the skills to negotiate like them so that you’ll be more effective at work—and even get that trip to Maui on the calendar.

The advice in this guide is meant for professionals at all levels. You may have years of experience under your belt or be relatively new to negotiation. It is also applicable to negotiations of any size, whether you’re the lone person at the table or have a team supporting you. Throughout the guide, I’ll give examples of negotiations large and small to show you how the tactics I recommend play out.

Rethink Your Approach to Negotiations

There’s a popular misconception that in a negotiation, you can either win or preserve your relationship with your counterpart—your boss, a customer, a business partner—but you can’t do both. People assume they need to choose between getting good results by being hard and bargaining at all costs or developing a good relationship by being soft and making concessions.

That way of thinking causes the typical negotiation to go something like this:

Party 1: Here’s what I want.

Party 2: Here’s what I want.

Party 1: OK, I’ll make this small concession to get closer to what you want. But just this one time.

Party 2: OK, since you did that, I’ll also make a small concession. But just this one time.

Party 1: Well, that was the best I can do.

Party 2: Me, too.

Party 1: I guess I need to get my boss involved (or find someone else with whom to negotiate).

Party 2: I may need to walk away, too.

Party 1: Maybe there’s something I can do. What if I make this additional concession?

Party 2: That would help.

Party 1: I’ll need to get a concession from you then.

Party 2: OK. What if we agreed to split the difference?

Party 1: It’s a deal.

Sound familiar? This is a common approach, often called positional bargaining. People believe that if they go into the negotiation looking stern and unmovable, and then make small planned concessions and not-so-thinly veiled threats along the way, they’ll have more influence and get the results they want. But in my view, that isn’t a path toward negotiation that gets you what you want. It’s simply a haggle, a concessions game that forces you (and your counterpart) to compromise.

Positional bargaining isn’t all bad. It can be quick and efficient. It requires little preparation other than knowing what your opening offer is, what concessions you’re willing to make, and any threats you might use. And in the end, it always feels as if you got something, because if your counterpart played his role, then he conceded as well. In fact, positional bargaining works well when you are negotiating simple transactions that have low stakes and you don’t care about your ongoing relationship with the other party (think about agreeing on a price for that leather couch off Craigslist).

But this approach can be dangerous. In almost all business negotiations—requesting a raise with your boss, resolving a conflict with a customer, convincing others of a change in policy, agreeing on a budget for next year, for example—there is a lot more at stake, and chances are strong that you’ll need to continue to work with the other party going forward. If you were to try to use positional bargaining in those situations, you wouldn’t get impressive results. You have to be able to stand firm and maintain important relationships.

Positional bargaining rewards stubbornness and deception; it often yields arbitrary outcomes; and it risks doing damage to your relationships. Most importantly, it causes you to miss the opportunity to get more value out of the negotiation than you originally expected. In other words, you won’t be creative and find ways to expand the pie because you’ll be so focused on exactly how to divide it up.

Perhaps most dangerously, there is an underlying assumption in this approach that you’re in a zero-sum game: If you gain something, the other party has to give up something in return. In the vast majority of negotiations I’ve worked on, there is always more value to be created than originally thought. The pie is rarely—probably never—fixed.


A critical shift in negotiations approach

Copyright © 2011 Vantage Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.

To negotiate more effectively, you need to shift your approach away from this combative and compromising approach and toward a more collaborative one. Table I-1 shows how to reframe key questions about the negotiation with this approach in mind. For example, instead of asking yourself, What am I willing to give up? you might think more creatively and wonder, What are different ways we can resolve this? This helps ensure you aren’t shrinking the pie but expanding it. Throughout this guide, I’ll offer advice on how to make this critical

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