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Implementing Strategies in Extreme Negotiations

In November 2010, Jeff Weiss and Jonathan Hughes, along with Major Aram Donigian, published an article in HBR called “Extreme Negotiations.” It described the temptations we all face when negotiating under duress—for example, acting too quickly or relying too much on coercion—and suggested that the principles of effective negotiation become even more important when the stakes are high, and the pressure is on. The authors used examples from military negotiations in Iraq and Afghanistan to illustrate those principles.

In this follow-up piece, published in HBR's Ideas in Practice, the authors explain more about how readers could apply these negotiating principles to their own situations.

Here is an excerpt from the article, which aims to help us negotiate more effectively in extreme negotiation settings.

HBR: What work do negotiators need to do before they start a negotiation? 
W&H: Power in extreme negotiations comes more from preparation than from how glib or agile you are at the negotiation table. You have to prepare. But not in the way that people usually do, by asking themselves - “What do I want? What can I give? What threats can I make? - and then crunching the numbers to come up with an opening position and some planned concessions. With that sort of preparation, you’re set up for zero-sum haggling and likely to end up with a minimally acceptable compromise; you’re not armed with information and ideas that would enable you to negotiate a creative and truly value-maximizing agreement. We suggest using a seven-elements checklist to more strategically prepare. 

Those extreme negotiation elements (which are expounded upon in the article) include: 

  1. Think about each party's interests.
  2. Think about each party's alternatives.
  3. Brainstorm solutions. 
  4. Consider ways to legitimize the solutions.
  5. Identify commitments that each party can make.
  6. Analyze the relationships in play and how important they are.
  7. Plan your communication strategy.

Download The Article

For more on this topic, please visit our Negotiation page.