Culture

Negotiation Skills Review

I believe that each one of our classroom negotiations has shaped me as a negotiator. Each negotiation had a subtle (or sometimes not so subtle) nuance or caveat where I learned a bit more about myself and my personal negotiation style.

Emotion

One of the most important things for me to work on is eliminating uncontrolled emotion from my negotiations. This is something that I noted in my overview of my personal negotiation style at the beginning of class, and I believe that in a few of my personal negotiations (outside of the classroom) during the course of the quarter have shown while I’ve made improvement it is marginal compared to the extent to which I should aspire to. One of the things that I’ve considered while reflecting on this development point is how much your stress level may influence to what extent you’re able to constrain the aspect of emotion in a negotiation. The more stressed I am, or the higher the tension is, the increased difficulty in restraining my emotions.

While I don’t usually avoid confrontation, I feel like the lesson learned is that I should approach situations that require negotiation as soon as possible while tensions are still relatively at ease. This makes it easier to keep the emotion at bay. Meanwhile I will continue to work on controlling emotion under all conditions.

Grace

In the “Sunny Destinations / Mr. Fujimoto” negotiation I had felt like we entered the situation preemptively laying our cards on the table, so to speak, in order that we might diffuse any suspicions about us being hostile. This tactic, however, was poorly received and backfired upon us. What I learned is, first, you cannot over estimate the importance of building a rapport with the people participating in a negotiation. A little chit chat, however trite it may have appeared, would likely have served us better in beginning negotiations. This held true in the “June Bug Graphics” negotiation as well. A bit more interviewing, and I might have known more information about the business and could have better negotiated my salary. I still feel as though I did well, but you never know. “Knowledge is power.”

Secondly, I believe that you should be aware of any prejudiced ideas that you may have about a person or their desires before entering into a negotiation. You may have assumptions that will prove false. However, acting on those assumptions may steer you into dangerous ground, or keep you from uncovering valuable points of information. In the “Joint Custody” negotiation I came into the negotiation believing that she (Jane, the mother) had mischievous intentions and was weary of her. However, I did not outwardly display this, and feel like we were better able to jump into the real meet of the discussion because she felt disarmed by my un-hostile demeanor.

Preparation

To be honest much of the preparation for a negotiation takes place inside my head. I have always been one that people say over analyzes situations, however I like to consider all the possibilities and to have a situation and all possible scenarios carefully considered.

Of the preparation worksheet I feel like the questions regarding the other side’s interests or position are most helpful to me. While I might have completely considered how I feel about various scenarios or options for negotiation, I could be a little more adept at speculating on what the other side might be thinking about. I basically need to learn to “put myself in the other person’s shoes” a bit more. This just brings me back to my initial negotiation with my boss (that I spoke about when first beginning the course) and how I could have thought through how he might perceive the situation. I really didn’t even consider this because I thought the case was so very ‘cut and dry’. This fallacy led to my demise in that particular negotiation, with massive impact on my relationship with him.

To be honest I have not used the preparation skills from class yet in a real life negotiation. Negotiations have been nearly immediate in nature and don’t allow for true preparation. This goes back to what I was earlier saying about stress and tension. I need to move from reactive to proactive in my work environment, which allows me to feel more in control and to prepare for negotiations. Likewise it eliminates a good deal of emotion when tensions aren’t running high, and you aren’t running around in reactive mode all the time. This is different than how I prepared before the course because I didn’t realize the reactive position I was in and the negative affect that it had on my negotiations.

Self Awareness

Although I didn’t recognize an immediate and desperate need for taking this class I thought that it would be good to learn or refresh these skills, and that with them in the forefront of my mind, thought that opportunities would arise in which I might use them. My long term goal for taking the class was to ensure that I was prepared to negotiate in a high stakes matter, if the need should arise. I believe that I have made progress to that goal. Repetition, while somewhat monotonous, helps reinforce what it means to prepare for a negotiation. I have definitely taken away the thought that the preparation for a negotiation is certainly what is of upmost importance to you as an instructor of this class, and therefore should be for me as well.

I feel like I have done a good job of informally preparing for negotiations in the past because I often think about what my actions may mean in the perspective of the “other” and to think through what is the best and worst case of what could happen? What are alternatives? What do I want and what am I willing to settle for? What is absolute and what is open for discussion? It was good to see that these skills that I have acquired along the way are quite close to what is being taught.

Developing better negotiation skills just takes a bit of gumption and effort to go forth and try, and to be open to opportunities for negotiation.

While the preparation and ‘work’ isn’t all that difficult, the actual negotiations are challenging. That is what is really important. It would be frustrating to be paired up every time with someone that is a ‘push over’. In realizing that, that’s how I realized that the actual negotiations section of the class is the real challenge… Taking what you’ve learned and putting it into action!

I have most notably applied these skills to my relationship. I mentioned this experience in class, but basically my boyfriend became disheartened by my “absence” in our relationship while I’ve been taking classes online. He therefore (somewhat shortsighted and illogically) concluded that I was boring and there was no spark in our relationship and it wasn’t worth working on because it was fatal. (He has a flare for dramatics and is absolute / binary in nature.) I realized that this was a negotiation. He didn’t want the relationship to be over, he just thought/believed that it was. There was room for reasoning (negotiation of ideas and beliefs) and for negotiation of relationship status and agreement. I negotiated all of these, and in particular was careful to use the method of building rapport with the other person, and listening to their stories before initiating true negotiation. This was quite helpful and turned what seemed like a hopeless argument and a lost cause into a relationship which is once again live, kicking and screaming!

The book and class work provides repeated practice that disciplines your mind into thinking in such a way so that you are prepared and the behaviors become second natures, or habits.

Successful Negotiations

My most successful negotiation in class was the Simpson’s negotiation. Honestly I don’t remember the other side’s information but I felt like the terms we agreed upon were good. When discussing the financial terms I stayed higher than what my partner thought we should, and remained impassive in manner in no way betraying that I thought that this was “high”.

During negotiation the other side tried pressure tactics, and to establish or exert power but my partner and I remained unconcerned. We reminded them that we were a neutral party looking for the best interests of the Simpson’s as a program (being the producer’s and all), and this kept negotiations moving forward even though I thought we were getting a fantastic deal.

I don’t know that we found out anything from their side that we were able to exploit, instead I just pushed on “facts” that I had devised in order to formulate an industry standard. They argued against my “industry standard” but because I had worked through supporting points already in my head I was able to counter each point “proving” the validity of my argument.

Peruvian Hostage Negotiation

The Peruvian hostage negotiation was the most frustrating negotiation of all. I enjoyed the ongoing nature and the depth of detail, but it was frustrating to work with people who seemed to be ignoring “reality”. It was disappointing to see people start negotiating unprepared and unaware of the facts of the case, thereby throwing the entire negotiation off course. For instance, the MRTA believing that they were on Japanese soil, and the Japanese being able to turn on the water and electricity, whereas in real life this would be under the control of the Peruvian government. I understand once the “game” is under play then these things take on a life of their own, however it would have been nice to all start from the same understanding… if everyone would have read their sheets!

In my particular group folks had strong attitudes which hindered our ability to negotiate. For instance, Meryl has quite a reputation with the class which works against her. People view her as being difficult or stubborn on points where she is in the wrong. She is persistent and acts oblivious pushing, pushing, pushing until others give in. This was demonstrated in her “Dean vs. Dante” negotiation with Kathryn. Kathryn didn’t give, she lasted longer than anyone else was willing to stay and observe.

On day two of the negotiation we all came into the room knowing that we had to walk on eggshell to deal with other teams who might not have a clue and would be quick to disregard us again. Meryl’s “take charge” attitude nearly put us right back into the same position. That’s when I insisted that she sit down. I, however, made a mistake when Peru demanded that we leave and instead I said they must. This was a “real life” mistake because of Nikki being on crutches. Thankfully that didn’t seem to harm us too bad. Olga at that point complained loudly “can’t anyone shut her up” referring to Meryl, which thankfully Meryl didn’t respond to (I don’t know whether she heard or not, while she certainly might have). Personally, I had thought that Meryl would have been a little more into the role playing and adapting her personality in order to negotiate the best end results. Instead, while I still believe she is a tough negotiator her style seems to be all business regardless of the grace that might be best employed in certain circumstances. In team negotiations in real life I play the part much that I did in this negotiation… I am the subtle glue that keeps everyone together and moving forward. I am careful not to assert myself too much (as I might in a normal meeting) so that I am thought of kindly and not an adversary in any manner. I try to appease dominant personalities, such as Olga, while managing issues, such as Meryl’s directing manner which peeved the countries both days.

The recurring problem in this negotiation was attitude from the team. We were immediately disregarded the first day. Each country seemed to be out to do their own negotiation, and not one of the other groups had any idea who we were. Looking back I think that our group had not yet been formed and that they truly were in the dark. However, trying to help those who are in a fury of panic mode isn’t easily done. Our team twiddled thumbs until the end of the class (on the first day) when the MRTA realized that they might could make use of us. Second day everyone seemed to understand who we were and our role, and our issue instead was to work past the negative dismissive attitudes in our own group… all those who were “over it”.

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