Notes on Negotiation: Help Your Team Stay on Message

Help Your Team Stay on Message
Written by Marty Latz, Latz Negotiation Institute

Last week on NBC’s “Meet the Press” television program, Vice President Joe Biden declared his support for gay marriage, a position subsequently endorsed by President Obama.  Political analysts have since questioned whether Biden’s comment was a purposeful attempt to test voters’ feelings about the issue or an off-the-cuff remark which forced the president’s hand.

A recent Harvard Program on Negotiation post addressed how to prevent a negotiation team member from going off message.  Their advice?  First, spend twice as much time planning as you expect to spend negotiating to allow your team to resolve any differences in advance.  Be sure to brainstorm the issues to be discussed as well as your goals and alternatives.  And think about the same issues from your counterpart’s perspective.

Second, practice your negotiation script in advance with the purpose of attempting to direct and control any unpredictable team members.  And have a plan for what to do if someone does start to go off script during the negotiation.


Marty Latz is the founder of Latz Negotiation Institute, a national negotiation training and consulting company, and ExpertNegotiator, a Web-based software company that helps managers and negotiators more effectively negotiate and implement best practices based on the experts’ proven research.  He is also the author of Gain the Edge! Negotiating to Get What You Want (St. Martin’s Press 2004). He can be reached at 480-951-3222 or

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