negotiation notes

Travis A. Wise
Prof. Adair
Fall, 1999

I.                 Week 1

We learned in class that an ideal negotiator monitors the content, process, and personalities.  The content consists of issues, needs and interests, and principals.  Each of those categories has increasing degrees of attached importance.  It is bad to negotiate on the issues level because everyone has different issues.  The needs and interests level indicates why the issues are important, and may provide for mutual agreement (more commonality).  The principals consist of societal norms (i.e. don’t evict the tenant during the holidays).
This makes a lot of sense, and I learned that if when I am negotiating I go to the next level, I may be able to accomplish more.  From now on, when I have a disagreement with someone, I will try to look not at their “issues” level, but at their “needs and interests” or principals level.  I think this will allow me to establish much more common ground with the person I disagree with, whether it be my family, employer, etc.

II.              Week 2

On the process level, there is either an integrative method or distributive method.  The integrative method is win-win, and the goal is to make the pie bigger.  Both parties get their needs met.  The distributive method is how to split the pie, which cannot be made larger.  This, of course, seems like common sense, but I think that most people don’t focus enough on the integrative method.  For example, when approaching a problem, I usually view any problem as a distributive problem, but in fact, it may be an integrative problem, which can be solved by simply enlarging the pie.  Therefore, I think it would be beneficial in the future if I seek an integrative solution to problems whenever possible.  Of course, this will not always be possible, and sometimes the problem will require a distributive solution.
Varying degrees of personalities come in to play:  Competitive, collaborative, sharing, avoidance (which is often tied to dependency in upbringing), and accommodating.  I am definitely an avoidance and accommodating personality.  This came to light for me at work recently, when I wanted to avoid giving some bad news to a coworker, so I put off delivering the bad news for as long as possible.  The longer I waited, the more stressed and tense I got, because I knew that disclosure was inevitable.  By the time I finally told, I really wished that I had just brought up the problem in the beginning of the issue, and got it out in the open and over with.  This is a weakness of mine which I am determined to overcome.  I recently interviewed for a job, and the interviewer told me that the policy of the company was to be very forthcoming and “tell it like it is.”  Because this is somewhat contrary to my personality, if I take the job there, I will have to make an extra effort to not bury things under the surface in hopes of avoiding conflict.  Better to air the situation up front than let it furment for weeks.

III.            Week 3

The physical layout of the negotiation environment is also important.  With regards to the tables, a rectangle table has power positions at either end.  A circular table has its power position at 180 degrees opposite the door, near the window.  I remember learning this in high school, or at least a simplified version of it.  I think that this is an example of a very simple negotiating tactic that is not obvious when employed, and yet most people are unaware that the tactic exists or how to properly use it.  Sure, we know that the boss sits at the head of the table, but when the table is a circle or some other non-rectangle shape, people are lost and don’t know where to sit to exude power.
A good tactic to winning a negotiation is to eliminate an adversary’s obstacles to making the decision, for example, higher authority.  Ask if there is anything keeping the other party from being able to make a decision today.  Proper answer depends on if you can make it happen (i.e. low enough price).  I think that in addition to this guideline, it is important to ask what I can do to remove obstacles to making the decision happen.  For example, on my job interviews I would like to ask (but I don’t have the guts to actually ask it) what I can do to convince the employer that I am the right candidate for the job.  I think that if I could use this method to better convince the employer that I am the right person for the job, I would have more successful interviews.
It is also important to keep the Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) in mind.  If the BATNA is what is being faced, then you have nothing to lose by negotiating.  You can’t get people to the table if their BATNA is better than the end product of the negotiation.
Regarding the negotiations questionnaires exercise which we did in the second class to find out what our personality is like, I think that while they may have indicated some amount of truth, they aren’t very valid.  But then I don’t generally think that many standardized tests are valid.  I am definitely an “accomodator” and “avoider”, as the test indicated, but the test indicated that I am also a competitor, and I don’t believe I am at all.  Although I think that applies more to personal problems I am dealing with rather than with clients, because with clients I don’t have anything personally at stake, so I can be more competitive.

IV.           Week 4

I have been in three car accidents in my life.  The most recent two were not my fault, and there were no injuries.  The first was also not my fault, but I was injured.  That case went to what I believe was binding arbitration, which involved a private judge.  That judge promulgated a settlement amount which both the insurance company and I accepted.  But in the two more recent non-injury accidents, which happened before I started law school, I think I got shafted.  I say that because while the other party’s insurance company paid the amount necessary to fix my car, they didn’t pay other expenses which I think they should have paid.  Those include the amount my car was devalued because of the body work, and the amount of time I was required to spend dealing with the situation.  I think that if I am involved in a non-injury accident in the future in which I am not at fault, law school and this Negotiations class will enable me to be more aggressive in getting compensated.
I read the part of the book that teaches brainstorming, and I was surprised how basic that section was.  It would surprise me if anyone was able to get through high school these days without learning brainstorming (I learned it in 5th grade), but I guess it’s possible these days.

V.              Week 5

In my Administrative Law class, we discussed Negotiated Rulemaking, where administrative agencies are required or opt to bring all of the important parties together to negotiate the terms of the proposed rulemaking.  This legitimizes the rule in the eyes of the important parties, and decreases the chance they will sue the agency.  There is a danger that one of the key parties won’t be invited or come to the table.
I have been reading a book called “Never Be Lied To Again” which discusses various ways to detect when someone is lying to you.  Many of the ways were very similar to the tactics we learned in Negotiations.  Particularly the information about body language.  That is particularly interesting to me because I think the psychology of how people talk, versus how they act, is important in understanding people.  One of the tactic the book talks about the position of the eyes while someone lies.  For example, a righthanded person looks to his left when recalling something that is truthful, and to the right when making something up.  While I’m not about to say that I’ve never told a lie, I can’t recall ever looking to my right … I do recall looking to my left a lot when recalling things, such as an interview that I had a few days ago when the interviewer asked me what I would do in certain circumstances.  I distinctly recall looking to the left quite a bit.  On that same vein, another interviewer, while I was talking with her, not only shifted her eyes to the left, but turned her entire head to the left for an incredibly long (and almost rude) period of time. 

VI.           Week 6

I was recently offered a post-graduation position with a large company.  I was presented with the opportunity to negotiate, with regards to my salary.  But before I even got the opportunity to negotiate, I had to consider whether I should even engage in the negotiation or not.  I finally decided not to negotiate.  On the side favoring negotiation, I considered the fact that the offered salary was less than I was hoping it would be.  Granted, the amount wasn’t much less than I was hoping, but nonetheless it was a bit less.  Also on the pro-negotiation side was my consideration that I felt I was supposed to negotiate.  As I’ve never really held a full-time professional job before, I wasn’t sure what was expected and what I was supposed to do.  I did not want to be short-changed.  On the other side, however, I did not want to offend my new employer, before I had even started.  If negotiation was not expected, and the salary offer was firm, my trying to negotiate would be like trying to negotiate for the price of milk in a grocery store – it just isn’t acceptable.  However, I was still insecure that I was being short changed, and possibly not negotiating when negotiation was expected.
Therefore, I determined that before any future negotiation could take place, I would need to investigate if the opportunity was right for negotiation.  I went on the internet and found some sites which offered salary surveys for my future career, and those surveys, while somewhat out of date and not geographic specific, were very helpful.  I also brainstormed to think of any contacts I had in the industry, and I contacted them to see their opinion of my offer.  Indeed, my sources on the ‘net and contacts confirmed that the offer which was made was proper for the industry, and that negotiation was not expected nor appropriate.  Therefore, whatever my offer is, I will accept it and not try to negotiate.
I think that this analysis taught me something that isn’t necessarily taught in the book we used for the course, and that is making sure that the time is correct for negotiation, and that negotiation is proper in this situation.

VII.         Week 7

I am an avid watcher of ABC’s The Practice.  I watch it with the hope that here and there, I’ll gleam some knowledge from the show that will help me in class, and as an attorney.  Fortunately, I don’t plan to become a litigation attorney, so if my skills which I gain from watching the show aren’t adequate, no one will ever know.  But since starting this Negotiations course, when I watch the show I have been paying careful attention to the characters, particularly when they negotiate.  I figured since they are actors, they can probably do a good job of pretending to negotiate.
One of the characters, Bobby, has a very short temper and very short attention span.  He doesn’t negotiate very well.  Bobby will meet the opposing party, and flat out demand his bottom line, and if he doesn’t get it, he walks away.  I don’t think he does a very good job of serving his clients.  The other attorneys, who are mostly female, do what I think is a better job of negotiating.  They hide their cards close to their chest, and don’t reveal too much.  They bargain.  They even use sex to get what they want.  Now that’s a negotiating strategy that wasn’t in our book! 

VIII.      Week 8

MAPO-Administration Negotiation
Salary18%, 6%3% this year, 4% next6%, two year$2,340,000
PensionsNo if salary increaseNoNo$0
2 Person Patrols80/10050/7070/90$220,000
Civ. Review BoardReplace civilian with cop chosen by police, requiring 4/5ths majority.Replace civilian with cop chosen by police, requiring 4/5ths majority.$0
Vacations1No1 day each$160,000
Health Insurance0No0$0
Life Insurance0No0$0
CommissionerDon’t careFireCommissioner stays$0
Holidays1No1 day$150,000
Sick Leave0No0$0

IX.           Week 9

Union Negotiations
With the union negotiations, the union (which I was a member of) began at a $4.00 across the board increase of both wages and health benefits.  The bare minimum for my minimum was $2.00 increase for both wages and health, and allowing doublebreasting only on suburban residential property valued at less than $2 million dollars.  All three unions stood together in solidarity.  The users countered with a .50 cent/hour wage increase, no increase in health.  The contractors felt $4 was unrealistic, because of the good economy.  They sought a middle ground.  The unions stated that the position of the users was unreasonable.  The contractors proposed that the unions sacrafice benefits for wages, or vice versa.  This was something the unions hadn’t considered, but upon caucus the unions decided that combining wages and benefits and negotiating on both as a whole was fine.  The unions caucused, and counterproposed $1.50 above the absolute minimum.  The contractors counterproposed with their “absolute minimum” of $1.00 wage increase, $2.00 health increase, and complete doublebreasting.  This was below the minimums of the unions, and therefore the negotiations broke down at that point, and all parties walked out, and presumably the unions went on strike.
I was disappointed at the outcome of our negotiation because I didn’t feel that the other sides put much effort into pretending that they had something at stake.  They walked out without putting any consideration into the effects of the walk-out.  One party didn’t even reveal their bargaining position, because they maintained that they were in the middle of the two extreme parties.  I was a disgruntled negotiator.

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