Good negotiators find a way to make the “pie” bigger

Good negotiators find a way to make the “pie” bigger

Fazzi, Cindy

Beyond Winning: Negotiating to Create Value in Deals and Disputes. By Robert H. Mnookin, Scott R. Peppet, and Andrew S. Tulumello. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press/Belknap, 2000. Softcover. 368 pp. $28.

Negotiation is something that everybody does. Whether it’s a United Nations-sponsored international peace talk, or an employee asking for a raise from his boss, or a 10– year-old girl trying to convince Mom to delay her bedtime-it’s negotiation.

This is part of the appeal of the subject matter of Beyond Winning, which is due out in October. Although the book is tailored for lawyers, other readers can readily pick a few tips here and there about effective negotiation.

The authors, who started their collaboration at the Harvard Negotiation Project, divide the general negotiation landscape into two broad sectors: dispute resolution and deal making. They begin by discussing the “tensions” involved in negotiation, namely: creating versus distributing value, empathy versus assertiveness, and principals versus agents. It is the first underlying tension that’s most crucial to almost any type of negotiation.

“It is the tension between the desire for distributive gain-getting a bigger slice of the pie-and the opportunity for joint gains-finding ways to make the pie bigger,” the authors write. “For many, distributing value-as opposed to creating it -is the essence of negotiating.” They devote a good part of the book explaining that this should not be the case. The authors show through examples that in most cases, there are a lot of opportunities to create value, which is more important in the long run because it helps sustain the parties’ relationship.

The three “tensions” are discussed in detail in the first chapter, but a good rule to remember is this: Tension can’t be resolved, it can only be managed. And the authors offer many tips throughout the book on how to manage them. One way of doing it is by recognizing certain tactics, which could bog down the negotiation process, if not kill it outright. The authors list 10 hard-bargaining tactics that lawyers must recognize and understand in order to become effective negotiators.

There is a chapter on “Advice for Resolving Disputes,” which offers practical suggestions such as “try to settle early rather than late” and “search for ways to turn the dispute into a deal.” But toward the end of the chapter, the advice becomes a tad academic with the introduction of the concept of decision analysis to assess one’s case, complete with an analysis tree and a dependency diagram. It is hard to imagine an ordinary person mired in a dispute with a landlord or a business partner to be drawing trees and diagrams, but then again, this book is mainly for lawyers whose responsibility includes using every tool available to assess his or her client’s case effectively.


The authors of Beyond Winning say that for lawyers involved in negotiations, it is critical to be able to recognize the following adversarial tactics and understand how they work:

Extreme claims, followed by small, slow concessions.

Commitment tactics (committing to a course of action that ties one’s hands, forcing the other side to accommodate).

Take-it-or-leave-it tactics.

Inviting unreciprocated offers (instead of meeting an offer with a counteroffer, the hard bargainer requests a better offer).

Flinch (piling one demand on top of another).

Personal insults.

Bluffing, puffing, and lying.

Threats and warnings.

Belittling the other side’s arguments or alternatives.

Good cop, bad cop (in a twoperson negotiator team, one is designated as reasonable, while the other is tough and abrasive).

Copyright American Arbitration Association Aug-Oct 2000

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