Negotiating How to Negotiate
Est. time: 15 min.
- Understanding how early interactions in negotiation often set the tone of the entire process
- Encouraging constructive responses from other negotiation counterparts
- Dealing with people who have different bargaining styles
This module explores the topic of “negotiating how to negotiate.” By examining “real-world” negotiation scenarios and completing a series of activities, it will become clear that effective negotiation is not a matter of bargaining or simply trading one thing in return for another. Instead, it’s an indirect, back-and-forth process in which the relationship emerges from what each person says and does, step by step.
As you consider each negotiation scenario, keep in mind three important things that take place simultaneously in the early moments of any negotiation:
- Engaging defines the Who of negotiation. It’s about identity, roles, and relationships. As social psychologists and neuroscientists have demonstrated, we form judgments of other people ultrafast (just as they do of us).
- Framing, in turn, is the What of negotiation. It’s the way the parties define the task: Are we pursuing a partnership, resolving a conflict, or simply haggling? Is this a matter of high principle or is it run of the mill? The Who of negotiation—how the parties see each other relationally—is bound up in what they think they’re addressing.
- Norming is the How of negotiation. It’s how parties set the tone and pace of the process. It is tightly linked to the manner in which parties relate to one another and define the task at hand.
Important: it is strongly recommended that you follow the sequence of Pair A > Pair B > Compare A/B below as each scenario builds upon the previous example. (Note that these activities will open in a new tab in your browser.)
When people come together to make a deal or resolve a dispute, they inevitably negotiate how to negotiate. It’s an ongoing process of engaging, framing, and norming that takes shape according to what they do and say, and how they respond to one another. The patterns that they establish in the opening moments often have an influence, for better or worse, on whether they reach agreement and whether their relationship is strengthened or stressed. You can’t dictate this three-level process, but it’s essential to constantly monitor and proactively guide it.
Engaging: Defining the Relationship
- Friend or Foe?
- Easy or Hard?
- Up or Down?
Framing: Defining the Task
- A win-lose contest?
- A collaborative effort?
- Something in between?
Norming: Defining the Process
- Haggle game
- Creative exploration
- Building Relationships and the Bottom Line: The Circle of Value Approach to Negotiation by Bruce Patton, HBR 2004
- How Much Should You Trust? by Iris Bohnet and Stephan Meier, HBR, 2006
- Why Dick and Jane Don't Ask: Getting Past Initiation Barriers in Negotiations by Roger J. Volkema, HBR, 2009
- Negotiating with Emotion by Kimberlyn Leary, Julianna Pillemer and Michael Wheeler, HBR, 2013
- Picking the Right Frame: Make Your Best Offer Seem Better by Max H. Bazerman, HBR, 2004
- Breakthrough Bargaining by Deborah Kolb and Judith Williams, HBR, 2001
- The Art of Haggling HBS Working Knowledge, 2012
- Negotiation and All That Jazz HBS Working Knowledge, 2014
- Is That Really Your Best Offer? HBS Working Knowledge, 2003
- Better Deals Through Level II Strategies: Advance Your Interests by Helping to Solve Their Internal Problems HBS Working Knowledge, 2014
- Four Strategies for Making Concessions HBS Working Knowledge, 2006