Negotiations: How to get what you want and need*

Gary Rosenberg, Ph.D.
Senior VP, Mount Sinai Health System

Negotiation is a complex process. It requires bargaining of relationships, power, roles, and "shadow negotiation". The outcome is based on a process and will be most effective if you can draw the other person into a collaborative relationship

  • Academic medicine poses particular challenges to negotiation because of its hierarchical structure that occurs in multiple overlapping domains. This is compounded by the paucity of factual and benchmarking information. This information is necessary for developing reasonable proposals and thus achieving negotiation success.
  • It is essential that you prepare adequately both your facts as well as your emotions prior to enter negotiations. You must clearly define for yourself your goal(s) and strategies: single issue or multiple interrelated issues and the time-frame in which these have to be achieved. Accept the fact that you don't know how the negotiation will turn out.


  1. What do I want from this negotiation? List your interests.
  2. How am I likely to behave? How do I want to behave?
  3. What will trigger my hot-buttons?
  4. Do my requests fit who I am and what I want?
  5. Are my expectations realistic for this situation?
  6. Put yourself in the boss' place and answer the above questions anticipating what that person will do.
  7. Use scouting techniques. (Gather data about what's fair on your campus, and similar campuses e.g., Ask a professor how many publications she published before she was promoted, contact Am Assoc of Univ Prof.)
  8. Enlist the help of a mentor or coach.
  9. Prepare a set of alternatives that you find acceptable. Be sure to determine your BATNA–best alternative to a negotiated agreement.
  10. Gather support materials that can help explain yourself and your needs.
  11. For a new program, bring in an idea and several options. Ask if person wants it written first or to discuss it first.
  12. Separate budget from idea. "I know resources are tight, let's talk about an idea first."
  13. If you need information to prepare for the session, ask for it. "I'll be more prepared if I know...before we meet."

Additional preparation - factors that influence your negotiating approach

  1. Pacing: fast or slow
  2. Formality: high to low
  3. Physical proximity: close or distant
  4. Oral or written agreements: more binding or inclusive
  5. Bluntness of communication: direct or indirect
  6. Timeframes: short-term or longer
  7. Scope of relationship: business or all encompassing
  8. The place: public or private
  9. Rigidity of commitments

During the negotiations

  1. Express your feelings with objectivity.
  2. Attack the problem, not the person.
  3. Build relationships as you negotiate.
  4. Create a positive environment, not a negative one.
  5. Problem-solve in a positive way.
  6. Be a "student of human moves" like Paul Newman in the movie The Hustler. Be sure you can anticipate the chair's BATNA.
  7. "Reframe" the issue by using "Akido" strategies: use their energy by moving in the same direction. "Tell me more about that criticism." "We'd like to settle on the basis of an independent standard." "Trust is a separate issue." "Can I ask you a few questions? What's the principle behind your action?" "I'll get back to you."
  8. If you hit resistance, ask for more specifics, "Maybe you can share with me what makes my situation different."
  9. If person seems uncomfortable, ask "Should we pace this slower?"
  10. Very important to make time to increase trust and credibility. A negotiation session is part of an on-going relationship.

Assess during and after negotiation

  1. You may find that the two parties have very different concerns: form vs. substance, economic vs. political considerations, immediate vs. more distant future, precedent vs. respect for tradition, prestige vs. results, symbolic vs. practical considerations, etc.
  2. Beware of negotiators who use dirty tricks. E.g., phony facts designed to protect a position, ambiguous authority, dubious intentions, true deception/lies, stressful encounter designed to test how you do, personal attacks, good cop/bad cop, threats, refusal, extreme demands, escalating demands, calculated delays, take it or leave it.
  3. To deal with any of the above, stay prepared and issue focused. Use phraseology such as, "Please correct me if I'm wrong. We appreciate what you are offering, but our concern is fairness..."
  4. Situations: If the person isn't interested, you will either have to drop the project or bring in more new data to make them share your enthusiasm.

Gender issues

  • Research on gender and negotiations suggest women don't do as well. They can analyze the situations, but it's the "shadow negotiation" that is the issue: the social relations and perceptions, webs of influence, informal codes of conduct about the system.
  • Women and men still tend to be perceived by others as having certain attributes. Even if women have attributes of both, they need to manage the perceptions others may have of them.

    Masculine: independent, self-confident, competitive, stands up under pressure, etc.

    Feminine: helpful, aware of others feelings, emotional, understanding, kind, etc.

  • Gender is not always an issue, but when it is women should use and develop their strengths as empowered advocates, to do connected negotiations in which the relationship in continued and improved as a result of the negotiation.
  • Training in negotiation is provided by various universities including Cornell Industrial Relations, Columbia, NYU, Harvard, and University of Pennsylvania (Wharton School).

Selected Bibliography


Deborah M. Kolb and Judith Williams, THE SHADOW NEGOTIATION, Simon and Schuster, 2000.

Roger Risher and William Ury, GETTING TO YES, Penguin Books, 1991 2nd edition.

Michael Donaldson and Mimi Donaldson, NEGOTIATING FOR DUMMIES, 1996 IDG Books.


Colosi, Thomas,"Negotiation in the Public and Private Sectors",AMERICAN BEHAVIORAL SCIENTIST, 27,(1983), 229-55.

Kamen V.S. and C.E. Hartel, "Gender differences in Anticipated Pay negotiations Strategies and Outcomes, JOURNAL OF BUSINESS AND PSYCHOLOGY. 9, (1994) 183-97.

Web Resources

Harvard Law School

Institute for Global Communication

*The final version of the experts' presentations have been edited by Sandra K. Masur, Ph.D.(WFG President), Miki Rifkin, Ph.D.(WFG Vice President) often from notes of Kathryn Kaplan, Ph.D.,MSSM Consultant, Organizational Development.

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