People Skills:

Effective Negotiation

Principled Negotiation

An Effective Alternative To Positional Bargaining


Adapted from Getting to Yes, by Fisher, R, and Urey. W., the Harvard Negotiating Project


 "The most difficult thing in any negotiation, almost, is making sure that you strip it of the emotion and deal with the facts." ~ Howard Baker



Principled Negotiation Effective Negotiation Problem Solving Separate the People from the Problem Brainstorming Principled Negotiation: Negotiation as a Joint Problem Solving Process (Harvard Negotiation Project)


Getting To Yes

  • Be hard on the deal, soft on the people... More

Negotiation Tips

Wise Agreement

  • Meets the legitimate interests of each side to the extent possible... More


Principled Negotiation

The method called principled negotiation or negotiation on the merits was developed by the leaders of the Harvard Negotiation Project1. This method provides a much more effective alternative to positional bargaining. The principled method permits you to reach a gradual consensus on a joint decision efficiently and amicably.


In contrast to positional bargaining, the principled negotiation method of focusing on basic interests, mutually satisfying options, and fair standards typically results in a wise agreement. Participants are problem solvers, not adversaries. An amicable agreement between them is made possible by separating the people from the problem and dealing directly and empathetically with the other negotiator as a human being.

The four points that define the principled negotiation method are People, Interests, Options, and Criteria.

  1. Separate the people from the problem. Egos and emotions should not be entangled with the objective merits of the problem and, thus, impede negotiations. Before working on the substantive problem, disentangle the people problem from it and deal with it separately. The participants should come to see themselves as working side by side attacking the problem, not each other.

Solving People Problems

Selling Is Problem Solving

  1. Focus on interests, not positions. Important is what people really want, not the positions they take. Complementary interests serve as the building blocks for a wise agreement. Realize that each side has multiple interests and look for interests behind positions. Ask “Why?”, “What If?”, and “Why not?” questions to put yourself in their shoes and uncover their interests.

  2. Invent options for mutual gain. Identify shared interests and look for mutual gains. Set aside a designated time within which to think up a wide range of possible solutions that advance shared interests and creatively reconcile differing interests. Consider brainstorming with the other side.

  3. Insist on using objective criteria. The agreement must reflect some fair standard independent of the naked will of either side. Law, custom, market value, or expert opinion could serve as a fair standard... More

Great Negotiator

Great negotiators build strong, durable, win-win relationships because they have an obligation to help their counterparts in negotiations come out winners... More

Problem Solving Strategies: 4 Levels

Selling by Coaching

To be a great salesperson, you must treat your prospective customer as a player who wants to achieve extraordinary results. You are to help the player win.... More