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

MLDP Recap: “Problem Solving, Decision Making and Negotiation: You CAN Get There from Here!” with Professor Garvey

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This ongoing series explores sessions of the Management and Leadership Development Program (MLDP) through participant narratives. MLDP is a one-term program designed to develop citizen leaders among sophomores, juniors, and seniors at Dartmouth College. Led by expert guest speakers each week, sessions employ experiential teaching techniques to engage students through hands-on learning of core management and leadership skills.


MLDP participants listening attentively to Professor Garvey 

In the fourth MLDP session on April 20, Professor Garvey from the Franklin Pierce Law Center discussed the importance of makingdecisions and how to be a more effective negotiator. Students make a number of decisions daily, according to Garvey. People must be intentional in their choices, meaning that if they have reasons for what they did, the decisions will likely be better and more informed.

Garvey also gave students important advice for confronting their problems. The first thing that someone faced with a difficulty must do is name the issue. Once the problem is identified, it can be more easily addressed. “You have to come up with a decision that appears to be the best choice based on the information available to you,” Garvey said. “Sometimes backing off is ok. The point is, you need to consider what all the options are.”

Negotiations are slightly difficult and more challenging than simple decision making because negotiating involves another party – a person or group of people that will have goals, values, or interests that will not consistently align with the other person in the negotiation. Garvey offered steps that would help reach more equitable negotiations that he read about in an article. Garvey instructed students to “go to the balcony,” or to step back from the situation and think about it critically. Students then must “go to the side” and step into their opponent’s shoes and try to understand the other person’s perspective. Negotiators should also “try to reframe the discussion,” Garvey said, as this makes the issue a mutual problem and ensures that people will work as partners to find a common objective. Finally, students must “use the power to educate them and show them that they can’t win without you,” in order to reach a compromise that both sides are satisfied with.

Students participated in an exercise in which they presented personal problems to their peers and represented the possible scenarios involved. Garvey also showed video clips from How to Kill a Mockingbird, The Office, and Reservoir Dogs.

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