The 10 Things I Learned About Negotiations During My Wharton MBA
The Top 10 things I learned about
Negotiations during my Wharton MBA
Who I am:
1. A 2nd year Wharton MBA student with average grades
2. A soon-to-be rank and file employee at LinkedIn
Who I am NOT:
1. An expert on negotiations
2. Someone who has negotiated a lot of
big, famous deals
HOWEVER, I took negotiations class at Wharton and
learned a lot.
NOW, I’m sharing
what I learned with
you so you can
become a better
spending $200K on
We all negotiate every day
Big things you negotiate:
1. Your salary
2. Your house price
Small things you negotiate:
1. Projects at work
2. Discounts at the store
Negotiating is tough but can be learned.
What makes a great negotiator?
Discipline, Process, Relentlessness,
Consistency, Practice, & Routine.
NOT in-born talent.
The Top 10 Things I Learned About Negotiations
during my Wharton MBA
1. Prepare rigorously.
2. Build trust and rapport.
3. Exchange information & listen.
4. Identify things of unequal value & trade them.
5. Grow the pie before dividing it.
6. Claim the slice you deserve.
7. Know thyself.
8. Understand power and when to use it.
9. Women don’t ask, but we should.
10. Don’t be evil.
because the negotiation begins
in the back office.
Research the people and situation.
Know the history of the other party’s actions.
Build relationships with the other side.
Always have the meeting before the meeting.
Know your priorities & how much you value each.
Build a decision tree with all possible issues,
offers, and counter-offers.
Build a spreadsheet to model different scenarios.
Role play the debate.
Write down word for word what you will say in
tough situations (“Scripting”).
Draft, Devil’s Advocate, Deliver (3 D’s).
Know your BATNA - Best Alternative To A
Negotiated Deal - and your goal.
Never reveal your BATNA or your goal.
Your best advantage in a negotiation is getting
more good BATNAs.
2) Build Trust and Rapport
Deals happen because of people
How to Build Trust with the Other Side
You’re more influential when others actually like you.
Face-to-face meetings > Video Conferences > Phone > Email.
Relationships are everything so preserve them by the way you behave.
Aim for quick wins up front to create trust.
Frame the negotiation as a team problem solving exercise.
How to Listen & Exchange Information:
Find out what they want.
Try to give it to them in exchange for what you want.
Ask open-ended questions to get good information.
Connect what you hear to what you know.
Never assume! Follow up to test your understanding.
Don’t be afraid to talk about what’s most important to you.
If you are unclear, ask or involve an expert.
4) Identify things you value differently
and trade them
“I want the fruit!”
“I want the peel!”
Examples of differences you can trade:
The value / price you place on something
How risky you each think something is
5) Grow the pie before you cut it
(so everyone goes home with a bigger slice)
The Pie = The benefit you both get by working together
beyond what you both could’ve gotten by working alone.
How to expand the pie?
Foster trust to create an environment for creative solutions.
Trade things of unequal value.
Aim for the high side of
Don’t be afraid to ask.
However, unreasonable offers
can create ill-will.
Know when not to ask or
when to stop.
Leave room for yourself to
incrementally increase or
decrease your proposal.
In multi-party negotiations,
timing is key: Claim value
early. Once an agreement is
reached, it’s hard to change.
7) Know Thyself
My strengths: Teamwork,
Networks, Coalitions, Exchange
My weaknesses: Logic, Might,
Situational Awareness, Agency
My Keystone Habit to Work on: Might
Find examples of people who use power well and emulate them.
Sometimes it’s better to be direct so the other person understands
what you’re saying.
sources of power &
know when to use it
In negotiations, power is how much value you bring to the
other party relative to how much value they bring to you.
If you are unwise with power,
people might not trust you,
might resent you, and might
rebel against you.
CAUTION: Social Psychology tells us that
having power causes you to lose your inhibition.
There is power in
based on interests,
Women negotiate less often than men because:
We have a negative view of negotiations.
We think we don’t deserve more.
We lack confidence.
We are risk averse.
We fear rejection, conflict, losing.
We want to avoid the perception of aggression.
We want to be liked.
Why women should negotiate:
It signals our ability to represent the organization.
To make deals better and create value for all parties.
Sometimes you’ll hear “no” but often you’ll hear “yes.”
How women should negotiate:
Have aggressive goals without exhibiting aggressive behavior.
Balance empathy and assertiveness.
#10: Don’t be evil
Everyone has different values.
Some negotiators will be more ethical than others.
Take the high road by not being evil.
How to deal with people you don’t trust
Know your BATNA
Research the other party
The burden is on you to find out if things
aren’t as they seem
How not to be evil:
Aim to be ethical no matter what.
Preserve your reputation and your relationships.
Keep your word.
Process fairness is also important:
Did you involve the right people?
How did the decision get made?
Did you explain the reasons for the decision?
1. Not preparing enough.
2. Fixating on price. You’re negotiating a deal, not just dollars. Get all
issues out on the table.
3. Trying only to find common ground. Differences are a source of value
creation when you find them and trade them.
4. Negotiating one issue at a time. Always negotiate packages because
this increases trading opportunities.
5. Answering every question. You don’t have to answer everything, but
know what you will say in response (Redirect & reframe).
6. Anchoring yourself with a low offer.
7. Always trying to do a deal. Be willing to walk away at your BATNA.
8. Saying yes too quickly. You are more powerful before yes.
9. Letting emotion take over. When things get heated, sleep on it.
10. Not knowing when to stop asking. Aggressive behavior can backfire.
Can’t get enough about negotiations?
Check out these resources:
1. Bargaining for Advantage by Richard Shell
2. Getting More by Stuart Diamond
3. Six Habits of Merely Effective Negotiators by James Sebenius