Self-Reflection on Negotiation and Application to Daily and Professional Life
Negotiation is an important activity in our lives. Knowingly and unknowingly, we negotiate almost every day with our friends, colleagues, family members and sometimes, even with ourselves. Academically negotiation is defined as a formal discussion between people who are trying to reach an agreement. We use negotiations to achieve our goals, realize our expectations, work out a compromise or simply avoid trouble with others. It is a process by which we try to resolve differences of opinion or conflicting interests.
The module conducted on negotiation explained negotiation as a decision making or problem solving process that involved two or more parties who are in a state of conflict with each other, because of opposing interests, concerns, values, beliefs, emotions, etc. The objective of the module was to simply demonstrate that negotiation is a kind of conflict resolution or settlement process in which the parties to the negotiation try to achieve their respective goals by various means of effective communication and strategy.
My basic understanding of the negotiation process was questioned as I was conditioned to approaching the negotiation stage with a situational approach. This simply means I had a preconceived outcome that I would like to attain even before the negotiation had started. Commonly, these situational outcomes involve a win-win situation, a win-lose situation, and a lose-lose situation. Being pre-conditioned to these situational outcomes, one tends to rely on previously tried or tested negotiation techniques.
Similar to communication, one would gravitate towards the adoption of that technique that he/she may be comfortable with, in the case of negotiations, a technique that suits their personality. The approach undertaken by the tutors in order to demonstrate the negotiation process was unique and rather interesting. Having a perspective of a professional strengthens concepts and encourages learning, furthermore, normal negotiations usually involves a certain amount of verbal communication.
However, the module required us to be able to negotiate our outcome without actually being able to verbally communicate. Initially the task seemed straightforward, as I assumed I would be able to draw on my professional experience and implement those techniques in the class. Nonetheless, upon initiation of the module my known negotiation techniques were questioned and seemed incompatible for the respective situation. This reflective essay will endeavor to show the growth I have been able to achieve in my negotiation techniques along with my ntentions on their application in my personal and professional life. Being employed as a middle-level manager and having to deal with situations that require me to draw on my negotiation techniques on a regular basis, and the introduction of the subject by a professional aroused my interest to reflect on this particular module. The module had two parts, the first part of the module required us to form groups of 3, where 2 of the members had to arm wrestle and the third person played the role of a mediator.
I was one of the persons that was arm wrestling and the mediator made sure that we followed the rules, which forbade talking with one another during the exercise. The second part of the module, again in groups of 3, required each member to strike a deal and attain the maximum number of points that they could that was defined in the exercise. The three parties, A, B and C respectively, could either strike a collective deal or engage in private meetings with other parties within the group, however, the same two parties could not have a meeting again.
The objective, as mentioned earlier, was to gain as many points as possible at the end of the exercises. It is essential to remember that the objective was simple and direct and had no clauses or assumptions attached, similar to the first part of the module. Reflecting back on the first part of the module, i. e. arm wrestling, being the stronger opponent I was able to attain higher points than my opponent demonstrating my power. Interestingly, even before the initiation of the exercise, my opponent was overwhelmed by a sense of domination.
My assumption about my power was incorrectly perceived by my opponent as the objective of the exercise clearly stated that the most number of points had to be achieved without mentioning any confines of a competition. My opponent failed to understand and kept on resisting as a result, further force had to be applied in order for me to attain the desired objective. I was willing negotiate with my opponent, however, realized that the stereotype commonly attached to the word ‘arm wrestling’ such as strength and competition makes it a harder negotiating arena.
What I learnt through the first part of the module was that even though I was willing and able to think out of the box, in order to attain the objective, other parties involved in the process needed to clarify their positions and assumptions prior to the negotiation process. The absence of verbal communication multiplied the issues and was one of the predominant factors or lack thereof in the failure of the objective. In retrospect, I realized that there must be a collective approach in attaining the objective in order to have a situational outcome of a win-win.
I believe a lack of experience and the inability of a creative approach to attain the objective would have benefited not only me but also my opponent. As mentioned earlier, the assumption of my power made by my opponent could therefore had been avoided and provided her with the confidence to have an open discussion towards working in attaining the objective. Similarly in the second part of the module, three parties – A,B, and C – were required to attain the maximum points through negotiation. The experience was similar in this part as there was a lack of collective action and collective benefits.
Each party was acting in its own interest rather than asking questions that would assist them in understanding their competitors. Discussions in class hovered around situations or at least seemed to have a solution to every conflicting situation, however, my experience in the second part of the module was totally that of the opposite. Negotiations had totally broken down as there was no willingness to cooperate and no opportunity to be vocal about feelings. I was disappointed by my experience, however, eventually learnt that not all negotiations have a positive outcome, regardless, maintaining relationships is the key to future business.