The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

MLDP Recap: Problem Solving and Negotiation

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Read a student's account of our most recent session in our Management Leadership and Development program below. For more information, about MLDP, click here.

During John Garvey's session on problem solving, decision making, and negotiation, students split up into groups to discuss problems they each faced and how to deal with them using strategies Garvey brought up.

Professor Garvey opened his session by posing the question, "Is every decision you make a negotiation?"  He offered the example of the movie critic website Rotten Tomatoes to describe how if it is just you, you don't need to negotiate to make a decision. In order to make a small decision, we must use information to weigh the pros and cons. He stresses how critical information is. You can be by yourself, but with others you must make a decision you must use some form of negotiation. Uri describes negotiation as the back and forth conversation when some interests are shared, and some interests are posed. How do you get into a negotiation from an interest-based standpoint? Before you make a decision, you get all the relevant information and look at the pros and cons and make the decision based upon useful information. When possible, if you have solutions of relative equal value, you choose the decision that keeps the most options open. When you came to Dartmouth, you likely had options at other schools. Ultimately, it was because Dartmouth had the most opportunity available- both at the school and beyond.

There are factors that are a part of every negotiation and negotiation involves certain skills- it is an intentional practice. When you are negotiating with others, people propose interest-based negotiation as opposed to positional bargaining. If you understand what you both want out of you respective desired outcomes, there is a better chance that you will get what you need. Positional bargaining however leads to someone living and someone losing. They exist in 0 sum games, which are situations that always end up with a winner and a loser. However, interest-based negotiations can find a common ground.

After understanding clearly your interests and the interests of others and the situation behind the issue, Professor Garvey offers an example of buying a car to describe this process. Researching the actual price of the car gives you more control over the purchase price of a car. Evaluating the location as well is another standard of negotiating. Awareness of what else is out there or other market standards is critical in negotiations.  The Best Alternative to Negotiation Agreement (BATNA) can be used if you don't reach an agreement. Figuring out your walk-away is critical because you lose a lot of bargaining power.

-Andrew Longhi '14

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