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What's Your Negotiation Strategy?

Published in the Harvard Business Review's July/August 2020 issue.

What happens when “dealmakers find themselves in complex negotiations with higher stakes”? In “What’s Your Negotiation Strategy?”—highlighted on the cover of the July/August 2020 issue—Partners Jonathan Hughes and Danny Ertel identify the key strategic principles negotiators should apply to complex deals. “Just like business, political, and military leaders,” they write, “negotiators need a strategic framework that illuminates the key choices they must make to achieve their ultimate objectives.”

To devise one, negotiators should answer the following questions:

  1. What business outcomes do we seek through this negotiation?
  2. Who cares about those outcomes?
  3. Who can do something to bring about those outcomes?
  4. How can we engage, directly or indirectly, with parties that share some of our interest in achieving those outcomes?

Look for Links Across Negotiations

"Most negotiators focus exclusively on maximizing the value of the deal at hand. In doing so, they often undermine the success of future negotiations—their own and those of their colleagues. A strategic approach requires considering success beyond the current deal and, in particular, how the precedents it sets will create anchors and shape dynamics in future negotiations. After all, except with pure sales and purchases of assets, most high-stakes business negotiations are repeat transactions undertaken in the context of long-term relationships."

Consider the Impact of Timing and Sequencing

Many people seek to speed up or slow down negotiations to put pressure on the other side and extract concessions. But pressure tactics often backfire. Careful consideration of how the other side is likely to respond should guide when to accelerate, slow down, or pause a negotiation.

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