Home » Archive » Core Competency: Negotiation

, written by Jeremy. Read the commentary.

Negotiation is the art of making someone offer as a gift that which is your chief design to secure and for many bootstrapping entrepreneurs it’s a core competency.

James K. Sebenius in “Six Habits of Merely Effective Negotiators” (HBR, April 2001) lays out four keys to negotiation:

1. Focus on the full set of interests of all parties.

2. Look beyond common ground to unearth value-creating differences.

3. Assess and shape best alternatives to negotiated agreements.

4. Avoid role biases and partisan perceptions.

Use these guidelines to nail down your problem: understanding and influencing the other side’s decision in a way that it chooses what you want.

Negotiation is all about trying to get the the other side to say yes for its reasons, not yours. This requires understanding and addressing the other side’s problems as a means of solving your own.

By building an understanding of the other side’s concerns you can flesh out a shared vision for the issue at hand, investigate the key concerns of each side (including price) and craft trade-offs among the full set of issues to meet their interests.

You want to start by sharing the view of the other side and conclude with them sharing your own.

Books recommended on negotiating:

Art and Science of Negotiation by Howard Raiffa

The Manager as Negotiator by David Lax and James Sebenius

Negotiating Rationally by Max Bazerman and Margaret Neale

3-D Negotiation: Creating and Claiming Value for the Long Term by David Lax and James K. Sebenius


I have read ‘Art and Science of Negotiation’ by Howard. I also recommend ‘The Negotiation Skills’.

Thanks! I’ll look it up.