Norm Brodsky

I’ve been doing a lot of negotiating these days, and I keep noticing mistakes people make. Their most common mistake is focusing on what they want when they should be devoting their attention to learning what the other side wants, and how badly. If you can do that without showing your hand, you wind up controlling the process. You can craft a deal that satisfies … [ Read more ]

Chris Voss

When the pressure is on, you don’t rise to the occasion, you fall to your highest level of preparation. So design an ambitious but legitimate goal and then game out the labels, calibrated questions, and responses you’ll use to get there. That way, once you’re at the bargaining table, you won’t have to wing it.

Chris Voss

Who has control in a conversation, the guy listening or the guy talking? The listener, of course. That’s because the talker is revealing information while the listener, if he’s trained well, is directing the conversation toward his own goals. He’s harnessing the talker’s energy for his own ends. […] The art of putting listener’s judo into practice involves remembering four things:

  1. Don’t try to force

[ Read more ]

Chris Voss

It’s critical to break the habit of attempting to get people to say “yes”. Being pushed for a “yes” makes people defensive. Our love of hearing “yes” makes us blind to the defensiveness we ourselves feel when someone is pushing us to say it. Though “yes” is the final goal of a negotiation, don’t aim for it at the start.

“No” is not a failure. … [ Read more ]

Chris Voss

Experience has taught great negotiators that they are best served by holding multiple hypotheses—about the situation, about the counterpart’s wants, about a whole array of variables—in their mind at the same time. Present and alert in the moment, they will use all the new information that comes their way to test and winnow true hypotheses from false ones.

In negotiation, each new psychological insight or additional … [ Read more ]

Chris Voss

Don’t treat someone the way you want to be treated—treat them the way they need to be treated based on what’s driving them. How they got to the moment in time where they are across the table from you, and what drove them there, is different than how you got there. What happened to them the night before they encountered you is different than what … [ Read more ]

Derek Lidow

Every relationship of two or more people is based on shared objectives. They needn’t agree on how to bring it about and may not both take action to effect the change. Cooperative relationships are those where both parties agree on how to share the benefits and costs of creating change. Competitive relationships, by contrast, are those in which you don’t agree on how to allocate … [ Read more ]

Ernest Bevin

The first thing to decide before you walk into any negotiation is what to do if the other fellow says no.

Morris Chang

Years ago I read a Fortune magazine article where [Hong Kong tycoon] Li Ka-shing was quoted as advising his sons in the following fashion: When you enter into a partnership with somebody and you expect to make a dollar and your partner expects to make a dollar, too, then when the deal is over, why don’t you just take 80 cents? And if you take … [ Read more ]

Nir Halevy

We consistently find that people are more likely to agree with the statement, “I get the best outcome when we both behave cooperatively” than they are with “I get my best outcome when I behave competitively and they behave cooperatively.” But we still have about 15% who say that they get the best outcome when they exploit the other person’s cooperation unilaterally, and those 15% … [ Read more ]

James E. Lukaszewski

It’s crucial to understand just how powerful this concept [focusing on outcomes] is. Fundamentally, it recognizes that everyone owns yesterday, last week, last month, and last year, from their own point of reference. That ownership is permanent. Even given a limitless amount of discussion, the past will remain as it was, owned by those who were there.

But no one owns the future—the next 15 minutes, … [ Read more ]

Tom Stewart

A few years ago, I came across an old acronym that was used to describe the role of managers, ‘POEM’, whereby the job of management was to Plan, Organize, Execute, and Measure. It seemed to me that in a business environment where hierarchies are flatter, work changes rapidly because of new technologies, new customers, new markets, etc., and where you’re working in a more networked … [ Read more ]

Horacio Falcao

People tend to only look at national culture when they go into international negotiations—but there is also educational culture, race culture, gender culture, a religious culture. All of these also impact the way people behave and they are all “cross cultural,” which means that we’re underestimating the role of culture because we are only looking at the national one; but as negotiators, we need to … [ Read more ]

Nikos Mourkogiannis

At the heart of even the most mutually beneficial negotiation, there is always a haggle between two conflicting positions. A creative solution can clear a stalemate and produce agreement, but not by eliminating or resolving the conflict; rather, by suggesting new, acceptable concessions that make the conflict less intense. Making this happen is the art of negotiation.

Brian Dietmeyer

When we approach negotiations by tactically reacting to customers’ requests, by merely giving in because they ask us to do so, seemingly disparate transactions have the effect of “rolling upward” and defining our negotiation strategy. We teach the marketplace, our customers and our competitors, who we are based on the deals we do. By rolling over in negotiations, we run into several problems:
1. Customers … [ Read more ]

David A. Lax and James K. Sebenius

A meaningful role for negotiation vanishes the closer the situation becomes to costless dominance or a perfect market. By contrast, the negotiation potential increases (1) the less chance there is that any given player can fully achieve its objectives at no cost by unilateral action or (2) the less perfect the market, meaning smaller numbers and different kinds of buyers and sellers, more avenues for … [ Read more ]

Jim Camp

Jim Camp’s thinking is that in any conversation, it’s the listener who has the power. “People have a weakness for talking,” he writes, and questions should “invite the adversary to indulge this weakness.”


Getting to yes is easy: all you have to do is roll over. It’s getting what you want that’s hard.