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Make negotiations work for both sides

Frame negotiation as an act of creative problem solving, not a battle for dominance.

People putting puzzle pieces together

Figure out how you can solve other people’s problems while also solving your own. | Illustration by Kevin Craft

For Jessica Verrilli, ’07, Human Biology, a general partner at GV, successful negotiation requires thinking about the other party’s position as much as your own.

But to understand their position, you often have to first reveal the hidden constraints that you’re facing. “I would always enter these conversations trying to build trust,” she says. “Let me tell you a little bit about, you know, our interest and how we’re thinking about this, and some of the dynamics I’m going to have to navigate internally.” That approach, she’s found, often convinces the other party to be more open about the opportunities and pressures they’re seeing on their side of the table.

Negotiation isn’t really about “winning.&rdquo Tina Seelig, Professor of the Practice in Stanford Engineering’s Department of Management Science and Engineering, invokes Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Margaret Ann Neale’s idea of negotiation as creative problem solving. “It’s all about actively listening and understanding each other’s interests, and finding the best solution for everyone involved,” says Seelig.

As Seelig, Verrilli and Arch Systems CEO and co-founder Andrew Scheuermann, PhD ’16, Materials Science and Engineering, workshop their negotiation tactics in this episode of the LEAP! podcast, they surface multiple techniques and concepts that can make negotiations go more smoothly – often for both parties involved.

You can listen to this episode and dig into other LEAP! episodes via Stitcher, iTunes, Spotify or Stanford eCorner.

In the LEAP! podcast, Tina Seelig — Professor of the Practice in Stanford Engineering’s Department of Management Science and Engineering — takes a deep dive into how to launch a career. LEAP! is produced by the Stanford Technology Ventures Program.