The Art of Negotiation

Stanford University

Learn how to manage relationships both inside and outside of the office. Stanford's, Stan Christensen shares his insight from his experience as a negotiator on behalf of mid-market tech companies. He guides students through the common pitfalls of negotiation.

Course Lectures
  • Steve Young, former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, explains how he uses different elements of negotiation throughout his life, whether it is in his marriage or on the field. According to Young, financial returns are not the only incentive in negotiations. He describes one of the negotiation tactics he used with his agent Leigh Steinberg.

  • Young talks about how he used negotiation skills to earn his place in the San Francisco 49ers. He describes how he never showed any signs of victimization and played his best on the field. Never give an excuse, he says, and always take the blame where it is appropriate.

  • The Power of Accountability
    Stan Christensen

    Young describes how he used accountability to deal with setbacks on the field. Whenever he committed an interception, Young accepted the mistake and looked at ways to fix the problem. He realized that when one was ultimately accountable, others would also take responsibility to improve the situation.

  • Young explains how he used soft skills as a quarterback to motivate his team. He learned to assess a situation through the perspective of his teammates and to understand their personal incentives. In this manner, he was able to inspire them individually and improve their communication and coordination on the field.

  • Young talks about how it is important to step back and understand your own weaknesses. This allowed him to improve his ball throwing skills, even though he had a height disadvantage from other quarterbacks. According to Young, a great negotiator is able to understand his strengths and weaknesses through self-analysis.

  • Young talks about fostering great relationships with his teammates and learning how to overcome the competition by using his negotiation skills. He describes how most of the negotiations he has been involved with have been symbiotic. It is important for people to feel that they are not being taken advantage of because you will lose out in the long haul, he says.

  • Young explains how he was able to negotiate with former 49ers offensive coordinator Bill Wash to play some of his strategies. He would commend Walsh for his ideas and would add a few suggestions. Walsh noticed Young had good ideas and would eventually come to ask for his opinion.

  • Young explains how he dealt with the ongoing presence of news reporters throughout his career. He realized that many of these reporters commuted for long hours, only to receive tidbits of information from the 49ers team. By stepping into their shoes, he figured out ways to work effectively together.

  • Young talks about how he works to manage relationships not only with his teammates, but with his wife and children. It is about being able to step back and understand what holes in your life exist, he notes. In addition, it is about savoring each moment and seeing the overall picture.

  • Young cautions against using a sword and whip with negotiations. He believes that this type of negotiation tactic has diminishing returns. Instead, he strongly advises that entrepreneurs not lose their values for the sake of winning a deal.

  • Young explains how his children have taught him to be more creative with his negotiation methods. With kids, you have to navigate many times to reach a goal, he notes. He has also learned to recognize his best traits and those he needs to improve.

  • Career Moves Off the Field
    Stan Christensen

    Young describes his career path from quarterback to lawyer to entrepreneur. He explains how he worked to acquire relationships with venture capitalists through their interest in football. When he retired from football, he created a funds-to-funds business in the venture capital industry with his teammates and later on, his own private equity fund.

  • Young explains how he was able to overcome the pressure of being compared to legendary 49ers quarterback Joe Montana. The best strategy, he notes, was to focus on finding out how good he could get, not how much better he could be than Montana. This helped him move in the right direction and got his career going as well. Later on, he became known as the fiery leader of the 49ers.

  • In football, Young notes that most of his negotiations involved getting his team to perform better. In business, however, his negotiations revolve around financial deals and figuring out the unique and individual needs of each person. According to Young, it is important to achieve a comfort level with the other negotiators to understand what their incentives are in the business.

  • Young talks about his first negotiation experiences with a team called the LA express. He learned that negotiation is about being tenacious, even when the deal may look to be called off or takes a long time to discuss. Negotiation is also about exercising good people skills, he adds.