Align consultants come from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds, and have significant experience in “real life” negotiations – implementing what we teach in actual business, legal, government, and nonprofit contexts. We also have extensive experience internationally - tailoring our material to the special requests and expectations of a variety of different cultures. We can provide courses in French, Spanish, and German. Other languages may be available through our international network of associates.
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Negotiation is a critical skill. Effective negotiation helps us to persuade and influence others. Whether with clients, customers, suppliers, co-workers, friends, or family, we all negotiate every day. Improving the way we negotiate makes us more successful in both our professional and personal lives.
Drawing on best practices from our work with the Harvard Negotiation Project, Harvard Law School, and countless actual negotiation experiences, we provide courses which provide effective and efficient negotiation skill building.
Learning or improving negotiation skills requires experiential learning - that is learning by doing. In addition to providing explanations of the most successful negotiation techniques, we offer case studies, exercises, video-taping, and one-on-one feedback. We tailor our courses to our clients’ needs.
A standard negotiation course is 2 days, but we will accommodate other client needs for shorter or longer versions of the course. The amount of practice and feedback given depends on the length of the course and the number of participants. Download our Negotiation Preparation Form.
In addition to our standard negotiation courses, we offer a specialty course in Negotiation for Lawyers.
Negotiation For Lawyers
Lawyers face special negotiation challenges. Whether litigation or transaction focused, lawyers must comply with professional and ethical rules while protecting client interests and confidences during negotiations. Drawing from our work at Harvard Law School as well as extensive experience in private and government legal practice, we will present the most effective negotiation strategies for the legal environment.
In addition to presenting the most effective negotiation framework and how to use that framework in legal negotiations, we will explore:
- How to zealously represent your client while looking for opportunities to make more effective and efficient deals.
- How to effectively settle disputes where strong emotions and lack of trust make resolution especially difficult.
- How to be both a strong and effective advocate while demonstrating empathy when appropriate.
- How to successfully manage a client whose expectations and assessment don't align with your own.
- How to ensure you obey professional ethical rules while protecting client confidences and serving client interests most effectively.
Entering a new business deal? Getting ready to sign an important contract? Striving to settle a dispute without further expense and damage to relationships? We can help you achieve success and save you money!
Preparation is key to successful negotiations. Clients have often asked for assistance with specific upcoming negotiations. We will walk individuals or groups through a systematic preparation process. We will help you clarify your goals, understand and improve your weaknesses, and anticipate the actions and reactions of the other side. You will be thoroughly prepared and organized, having thought carefully through the negotiation process and various options. We will give you the tools and the confidence to achieve successful agreements.
Managing Difficult Conversations
Giving or getting negative performance feedback. Asking for a raise. Telling someone they won't get the assignment they wanted. Saying "no" to a client or friend. Asking for what you really want.
Whatever the context, each of us has conversations that we find very uncomfortable and that we think we don't handle as well as we should. These conversations are often filled with strong opinions and emotions. We may choose to avoid these conversations, but that doesn't solve the problems - it often makes them worse.
Handling challenging conversations well is critical for solving problems, getting things done, and building good relationships. In this workshop, we present a clear framework for managing these conversations more effectively, and then work with the framework extensively. Through exercises, case studies, and thorough discussions we explore the common elements of difficult conversations and practice the best way to manage these conversations for better results and less stress.
Effective leadership requires the ability to inspire and influence others to act to achieve goals. Key leadership skills include negotiation and persuasive communication, conflict management, decision-making, and team building. Successful leaders should be self-aware, emotionally intelligent, and driven to achieve - while motivating others to contribute their best to the group effort.
Our leadership workshops focus on the attitudes and behaviors that characterize great leaders. We take participants through segments on leading themselves, leading others, and creating cultures that lead to successful organizations. Through exercises, case studies, and engaging discussions, participants will build essential leadership skills.
Executive coaching is used by successful professionals to develop and expand their managerial and leadership skills. Our coaching focuses on developing insights, giving and getting feedback, building capabilities, and suggesting ideas and actions. The sessions are intended to be both broad in scope and practically useful - tailored to the preferences and needs of the individual client.
A typical engagement process is described below:
- Coaching engagements consist of approximately 15-20 hours of coaching over the course of six months
- The first session, usually conducted face-to-face, includes getting to know one another, clarifying expectations, and goal-setting. This session generally is from one to two hours.
- Subsequent sessions may be held in-person, on the telephone or by video-conference, and ideally take place every two to three weeks. The length of the calls varies from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on the interests and constraints of the client.
- The engagement also includes email contact and brief phone calls between sessions as necessary and within reason.
- Coaching sessions involve questions, observations, self-reflection, aspirations, and practical ideas. At the end of each session, the coach and client agree on specific actions – new mindsets or behaviors the client will try out before the next meeting. These practices ensure momentum and progress between sessions.
- In addition to the coaching conversations, the engagements include conversations with the client’s manager, HR sponsor(s), and/or others who can provide helpful insights and perspectives. These conversations take place at various points in the coaching process. The client is involved in suggesting people whose perspectives and input would be helpful.
Organizational planning sessions and workshops are an opportunity to develop and clarify strategic plans, share information and gain new insights, build understanding and commitment, and improve communication. Different points of view and areas of expertise, as well as different roles and expectations, frequently make it difficult to achieve productive dialogue. Using an outside neutral facilitator can help overcome these challenges.
An experienced professional facilitator can ensure objective and efficient meetings. Working closely with the client, we can help with both planning for and conducting effective sessions. Services include:
- Issue identification
- Clarification of objectives
- Identification of potential obstacles and concerns
- Process and agenda design to meet objectives
- Efficient facilitation and management of meetings
- Follow-up and specific action planning
Mediation can resolve disputes with less expense, less stress, and better results. The mediation process has gained support and praise from those who use it. Disputes that would become very bitter and expensive if played out through the normal litigation process can be resolved with greater control by the parties and with less cost. Resolving disputes before they even enter the legal system can save money, time and even save relationships.
Our mediators have extensive experience in a wide variety of mediations - including employment, contracts, business, construction defect, family and environmental. We provide highly skilled mediators, or help provide you with an advocate to advise you through the mediation process.
Effective management of differences adds creativity and innovation to our organization. Human differences can lead to conflict - or result in creativity and resilience. Capitalizing on the positive potential of diversity requires creation of an environment that encourages healthy, positive interaction between the members of the organization.
The first step in tapping the power of diversity is to prevent the conflict which can result from different expectations about proper conduct and interaction. We can provide training on prevention of sexual harassment and other improper treatment of others which is toxic to organizations. The cost effective way to prevent harassment and conflict is to make the rules and reasons for the rules clear and easy to understand. The key is doing this without alienating or offending participants in the training. Through interactive, professional, respectful exercises and discussions we clarify what behavior is appropriate, what behavior is inappropriate and unlawful, and what to do if you experience or witness harassment in the workplace.
In response to client and colleague requests, we have also offered the following special topic sessions. Please let us know if you would like to learn more about these sessions, or if you have a special topic you would like us to address:
- Women and Negotiation
- Culture and Negotiation
- Negotiation for Entrepreneurs and Startups
- Negotiating with Your Lawyer
- Alternative Dispute Resolution