Breakthrough Bargaining

by Deborah M. Kolb and Judith Williams

NEGOTIATION WAS ONCE CONSIDERED AN ART practiced by the naturally gifted. To some extent it still is, but increasingly we in the business world have come to regard negotiation as a science—built on creative approaches to deal making that allow everyone to walk away winners of sorts. Executives have become experts at “getting to yes,” as the now-familiar terminology goes.

Nevertheless, some negotiations stall or, worse, never get off the ground. Why? Our recent research suggests that the answers lie in a dynamic we have come to call the “shadow negotiation”—the complex and subtle game people play before they get to the table and continue to play after they arrive. The shadow ...

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