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

Problem-Solving, Decision-Making and Negotiation with UNH School of Law's John Garvey at MLDP

Article Type 

On February 15th, Professor John Garvey, Director of the University of New Hampshire School of Law’s Daniel Webster Honors Program, presented a session on the art of negotiation to the MLDP group. Professor Garvey began the session by referencing the session’s required pre-reading, asking students to recount potential barriers to reaching an effective agreement when negotiating. To illustrate one of these hindrances to negotiation, Professor Garvey showed a clip from The Untouchables to illustrate how over-emotion can prevent one from being capable of rational negotiation.
Garvey spoke to his own thirty years of trial experience, as he recounted tales of trials that could have easily been avoided with simple negotiation. He specifically referenced the benefits of considering the desires of the stakeholders before entering a negotiation. Garvey advocated “standing from the balcony” when approaching negotiations—that is, one should objectively look down on the situation and try to understand both parties’ points of view to arrive at what may be the most reasonable compromise for both. Garvey also encouraged MLDP participants to always approach negotiations with a firmly-established BATNA, best alternative to negotiation agreement, in mind. One’s BATNA serves as their walk-away point from a negotiation; it’s the absolute minimum terms upon which one could agree.
Professor Garvey asked students to participate in an exercise called “Standing in the Other Person’s Shoes.” Each student staged a negotiation with himself or herself about a pertinent issue in his or her life. This exercise allowed students to examine their disagreements objectively and arrive at new ideas for compromise. Professor Garvey concluded the session with a scene from Resovoir Dogs, which showed a three-way gun battle, sardonically serving as a warning to students about the consequences of negotiations gone awry.
-- Kristen Clifford '13

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