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Michele Pekar: succeeding negotiation meetings le 10/08/2016



 Working with Executives in the area of negotiations requires an array of skills as well as acumen.  Creativity certainly being a key one of them.   Michele Pekar, Kedge Business School and Oxford Programme on Negotiation in association with Alain Lempereur, Brandeis University and Harvard Program on Negotiation team up to offer a few quick insights into organizing for successful negotiations.


Negotiations often include at least one meeting or a series of several meetings over time.  The risk is that you may have the impression that you accomplished nothing at the end of a meeting or may simply run out of time. One of the keys in negotiation success is managing the negotiation process so as to maximize problem-solving and minimize frustration. We propose a three-step approach that aims at a more responsible use of meeting times.

First, it is essential to pay special attention to the prologue of the meeting. It should focus sequentially on people and then on process. The first move in any meeting is about building connection and trust with all the participants. Afterwards, the next objective is to organize the meeting itself, with a clear agenda and operation guidelines, so that everyone understands the objectives of the meeting and knows how it will unfold. A good start of a meeting will not simply deliver a better working atmosphere but also facilitate a structured approach to the entire meeting.

Second, the central part, the dialogue, is devoted mostly to problem solving: identification of issues to address, invention of solutions, evaluation of all possible solutions before making a decision. This step-by-step approach requires a clear understanding of problems, a brainstorm in order to produce many solutions, tools to select the best of them, and a summary of the points of agreement or disagreement. Of course, all of these steps are not always accomplished in a single meeting.

Third, the epilogue should return to the process of next steps for proper implementation and finish by a reconnection to the people. We should always keep five minutes for conclusion to clarify the action plan, and congratulate everyone for their contribution in order to end on a positive note.

In brief, the meeting script is “people and process first, problems next, and finally process and people.”


Michele Pekar (BA, University of Wisconsin; MTS, Harvard University) is a Partner at Co-Development, a consulting and training firm. Michele is a senior negotiation trainer who has taught for the last 15 years negotiation, leadership, team building and fundraising at Kedge BS, ENA, ENPC, ESSEC, Sciences Po Paris. She was trained in negotiation at Harvard. She is the editor of the best-seller “The First Move: A Negotiator’s Companion” (John Wiley & Sons, 2010). She has been the Director of International Development, Graduate Programs, at ESSEC BS - Paris & Singapore from 1996-2011. She developed international, communication, and marketing strategies. She has worked in annual and major gifts development at Harvard University from 1990-1995, coordinating fundraising activities and building relationships with

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