Seminar Description

Negotiation is critical skill for any museum professional. Whether you are lobbying for the funds to hire an additional conservator, bargaining with a vendor for the best price on casework, or keeping internal stakeholders’ expectations about a new initiative in check, there are numerous opportunities to create value and advance your interests through strategic negotiations.

Negotiation presents one of the best opportunities to maximize the impact of your limited resources. Even if you’re short on staff, funding, or infrastructure (or all three), as a smart negotiator, you can find creative ways to leverage your strengths and build powerful relationships that produce significant results. And you don’t need to burn bridges or resort to nasty tactics to get the best deal. Instead, you can use field-tested techniques to reach mutual understanding, build trust and forge lasting partnerships.

Frequently, museum professionals find themselves positioned as intermediaries negotiating on behalf of their institution with for-profit vendors and contractors. These types of deals often have a high transaction cost and may require significant preparation. Compounded by the unique culture, stakeholders, and mission of museums these negotiations can often become complex. Using negotiation, you can convey your positions to your counterparts so that they not only understand your interests, but also work with you to help meet your objectives.

This seminar will introduce museum professionals to fundamental negotiation concepts and tools for developing deals that maximize value for both parties (win-win negotiation). You’ll explore ways to structure the bargaining process, learn how to identify both your and your counterpart’s interests, and develop the ability to recognize (and counteract) the most common manipulative tactics used by aggressive negotiators.

Interactive Learning

Through interactive activities, mock negotiations, and peer feedback, participants in this seminar will learn effective strategies for negotiating with vendors, contractors, and even their colleagues!

Workshop Outcomes

Participants will walk away from the seminar with:

  • a broad understanding of central concepts in negotiation as they apply in a museum context
  • a systematic framework for preparing for any type of negotiation
  • problem-solving techniques and practical skills for each step of the negotiation process
  • tools for mitigating aggressive negotiators and methods for resolving seemingly intractable negotiations.

Who Should Attend this Seminar?

This seminar is designed for anyone who works in a museum at any level. The workshop will also be useful for those who provide services for museums. The goal of the workshop is for participants to develop practical portable skills that they can carry with them throughout their career. While the interactive exercises in the workshop will be designed to address museum-specific types of negotiation, subject matter expertise in a specific area of museum operations is not required.

Recommended Resources


Babcock, Linda, and Sara Laschever. Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation–and Positive Strategies for Change. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2003.

Brett, Jeanne.  Negotiating Globally: How to Negotiate Deals, Resolve Disputes, and Make Decisions Across Cultural Boundaries (Jossey-Bass Business & Management). San Francisco, CA: Wiley, 2007.

Fisher, Roger, William Ury, and Bruce Patton. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. New York, NY: Penguin, 1991.

Lax, David and Jim Sebenius. 3-d Negotiation: Powerful Tools to Change the Game in Your Most Important Deals. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2006.

Mnookin, Robert H., Scott R. Peppet, and Andrew S. Tulumello. Beyond Winning: Negotiating to Create Value in Deals and Disputes. Cambridge, MA: Belknap of Harvard UP, 2000.

Mnookin, Robert H. Bargaining with the Devil: When to Negotiate, When to Fight. When to Fight. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011.

Shell, G. Richard. Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People 2nd Edition. New York: Viking, 1999.

Ury, William. Getting Past No: Negotiating in Difficult Situations. New York: Bantam, 1991.


Weiss, Jeff; Donigian, Aram; Hughes, Jonathan. Extreme Negotiations. Harvard Business Review 2010

Wheeler, Michael. Get in the Right State of Mind for Any Negotiation, Harvard Business Review, May 05, 2015

Patel, Neil. The Art And Science Of A Successful Negotiation. Forbes, June 22, 2015

Richard Harroch, 15 Tactics For Successful Business Negotiations, Forbes, September 16, 2016

Camp, Jim. Business Schools Teach Negotiating Tactics That Don’t Work, Bloomberg. August 4, 2014