Cut out futile negotiation

by MPA15 Oct 2014

Do you know the difference between position-based negotiation and interest-based negotiation? Focusing on differing positions, whilst ignoring shared interests, progress can be agonizingly slow. Venture capital CEO Anthony Tjan has outlined ways to go from positions to interests, and we’ve summarized his most practical points.

Understand the common goal and common interest

In practical terms: Tjan suggests you write down your goals and interests on paper and share them with the other side.

Quantify the underlying and ancillary motivations of the other side

In practical terms: work out if personal remuneration is at stake for those you’re in negotiation with, and calculate how this might change with different outcomes.

Be transparent and explain the why of your points

In practical terms: you also need to disclose your interests, Tjan advises, so it’s essential you articulate the ‘why’ of your points before you start negotiating

Calculate the materiality of each point.

In practical terms: Tjan recalls a negotiation where the cost of preparing for a negative scenario was more than the scenario itself would cost his company. He advises calculating this sum to determine if something is ‘worth fighting for’.

Look for points that have an asymmetry in value

In practical terms: work out areas of a negotiation that you care less about than your opponent. You can then make concessions in these areas to move forward in areas you care most about.

You can find Tjan’s full negotiation guide on the Harvard Business Review’s website.


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