Introduction to the Concept

In our increasingly complex world, the ability to communicate effectively is more crucial than ever. Whether in professional negotiations, personal exchanges, or global discourses, the way we communicate often determines success or failure. The Harvard Communication Concept, developed at the prestigious Harvard Negotiation Project, offers a structured approach aimed at promoting understanding, avoiding conflicts, and finding mutually satisfactory solutions.

  • Interests Over Positions: Focus on internests behind the positions Why do the involved parties want what they want? This helps to find common ground.
  • Options before decisions: Before decisions are made, various options should be developed. This promotes creative solutions.
  • Objective Criteria : Decisions should be based on objective criteria, not on subjective opinions. This makes the communication fairer.
  • Win-Win-Orientation: The goal is to find solutions that benefit all parties involved, rather than seeking a compromise on the lowest common denominator.

Interests Over Positions

A central aspect of the Harvard concept is distinguishing between positions and interests. While positions are what people say they want, interests are the reasons behind these statements—the actual needs and desires. By recognizing and addressing these interests, it becomes possible to find solutions that go beyond the initial demands and reach a deeper level of understanding.

Developing Options

Another important point is the development of options before making decisions. Instead of committing to a solution prematurely, the concept encourages creativity and the exploration of a variety of possible solutions. This open exchange of ideas can lead to innovative solutions that might otherwise have been overlooked.

Objective Criteria as a Basis for Decision-Making

The Harvard concept also recommends making decisions based on objective criteria. Rather than relying on subjective opinions or the desire for power, decisions should be made based on data, facts, and recognized standards. This promotes fairness and neutrality in communication.

Win-Win Orientation

Focusing on win-win solutions is another core element. The aim is not to maximize one’s own advantage at the expense of others but to find solutions that benefit all parties. This fosters long-term relationships and trust.

Practical Application

The concept can be applied in various areas:

  • In the professional environment: For resolving conflicts within teams, in negotiations with business partners, or in leadership communication.
  • In personal relationships: To clarify misunderstandings, resolve conflicts, and build a deeper connection.
  • In public communication: In debates, political discussions, or when exchanging opinions on social media.

The application of the Harvard Communication Concept is diverse. In the professional context, it can help lead more effective negotiations, resolve conflicts within teams, and create a more positive work atmosphere. In personal relationships, it enables deeper understanding and can help resolve conflicts constructively.


Tips for Practice

  • Active listening: Try to truly understand what the other person is saying and acknowledge it.
  • Show empathy: Put yourself in the other person’s shoes to better understand their perspective.
  • Be open to new information: Be willing to change your own opinion when you receive new information.
  • Give constructive feedback: : Express criticism in a way that builds up, not down.

Challenges and Solutions

Implementing the Harvard concept can also bring challenges. Misunderstandings, emotional barriers, and entrenched positions can make communication difficult. Here, it’s important to actively listen, show empathy, and be open to the perspectives of others. Constructive feedback and the willingness to question one’s own assumptions are also crucial.


The Harvard Communication Concept offers a valuable framework for effective communication. By encouraging us to look beyond positions, seek creative solutions, apply objective criteria, and aim for win-win solutions, it can help us achieve better outcomes in a variety of situations. The ability to communicate effectively is a key skill in today’s world, and the Harvard Communication Concept provides practical tools to develop and refine this ability.