The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise, written by Sun Tzu. It discusses military strategy and tactic of its time. One of my favorite quotes from the book is “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” In conflicts where negotiation is required, I also see the importance of this principle of knowing yourself and the “enemy”, in order to not fear the result of the negotiation.  Things I have learned in class about negotiation, such as focus on interests, not positions; Invent options for mutual gain; separate the people from the problem, all require some deep level of understanding our own needs and also the other party’s needs and how to use that to gain control and power over negotiation.


Negotiation is almost always involved in everyday life. At work, at home, with your managers, with your significant other, with your family and friends. We are all different from each other and the difference causes disagreement, which may lead to conflicts (big or small). Negotiation helps to get yourself out of the conflicts in the hope of reaching a solution.

I can definitely see myself apply the strategies of negotiation in the near future, when discussing the salary of a new job, as I am currently at a stage of career transition. Since it’s very common that employers will offer a lower initial salary, it’s almost expected for employee to negotiate the pay with the employer. So what are the keys here when negotiating the pay?How do I convince my future boss that I worth a higher pay?

First and foremost, the research. What’s my skill set and level of experience? What’s the industry average?What’s the employer’s expectation for the position? How can I bring more benefits to the table then they expected? Then, create options. Rather than simply only ask for a salary raise, come up with other options, in case a salary raise is not possible. For example, the compensation package or training/learning opportunities provided by the employer.  Meanwhile, be reasonable of what I am asking for. Again, this links back to the first step – research. If the employer thinks what you are asking for is out of the blue, they will definitely say “No” or the worst, even consider withdraw the job offer. At last, practice before going into the “battlefield” of negotiation. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Art of Negotiation

  1. Berry–good reflection on the key skills in negotiation. I can tell you’ll be thinking about this when you decide to step up and ask for a raise. I would only add one thing: more than just “research” — KNOW THE PROBLEM YOU ARE SOLVING for the other side (e.g. the boss). If you know what they most care about, what will matter most to THEM being successful, you increase your chances of getting what YOU want…and it will be win/win.

    Prof J

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