Daily Video

August 27, 2010

Students Learn to Negotiate

Negotiating a deal is not a talent that you either have or don’t have. It is a skill that can be learned, according to Robert Mnookin of Harvard Law School. He believes that the art of properly negotiating a difficult situation is best learned through role-play.

“Emotions often run very high, and it’s very hard for what I call the Mr. Spock in yourself, the cool, dispassionate, rational actor, to think things through,” said Mnookin, who is the author of “Bargaining with the Devil.”

Mnookin’s book–released earlier this year–hits on the difficult negotiations that people face on a daily basis. The “coaching and critiquing, negotiation guru,” as NewsHour Economics correspondent Paul Solman labels Mnookin, gives tips on human interaction that are sometimes lost when pressing issues are at hand during this tough economic climate. One method of resolving a tense negotiation is to make a simple trade, asserts Mnookin. It’s a simple practice that dates back to grade school, but still Mnookin pushes his law students to hone this practice as they might need to use it their daily lives.

“A key principle is, you have got to be able to dispassionately try to think through in a circumstance where your emotions are likely to want to take over…and that’s very challenging,” said Mnookin.


“The words you use, the tone you use, your language, it all matters, because it could affect how the other person reacts.” –Robert Mnookin

“Many things are more negotiable than people assume are negotiable.” –Robert Mnookin

Warm Up Questions

1. What is a negotiation?

2. What is something you might negotiate with a friend?

3. What are some good negotiating tactics? What are some bad negotiating tactics?

Discussion Questions

1. Why do you think negotiations are sometimes tough to resolve?

2. Think of something you have had to negotiate in the past. What was the outcome?

3. If the negotiation failed, what would you do differently next time in order to make it a successful negotiation?

4. What are some negotiations you see going on around the United States? Are these negotiations successful, not so successful? Why?

Additional Resources

Read video transcript

Middle East Peace Negotiations Set to Resume

How do you talk to the enemy?

Making Sense with Paul Solman

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