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  • The Art of Negotiation

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    It was the first Friday of the Spring 2013 calendar. On the MSTM calendar, it marks the first Frontiers of Technology for this semester, with the intriguing topic of negotiation. Little did I know that before I even opened my eyes, my brain went to a heated negotiation with my body. Apparently, the big challenge of the day was highlighted by the struggle to get myself out of bed and ready to go to the first frontiers of technology. I am not going to lie; it requires a great deal of self-conviction and determination to adjust myself from the holiday schedule.

    After metaphorically dragging myself into the class on that cold morning and taking my attendance, I was told to go to the other class room because there are two speakers that will instruct the class on that day. This is quite an unusual arrangement from our typical frontiers workshop, but it managed to intrigue me of the expectation of what was to come.

    Upon arriving at the designated classroom, I met a fresh-faced man with distinctive, intellectual smile and sharp gaze standing at the center of the room. He introduced himself as Professor Gregory Northcraft. His direct mannerism and brisk way of speaking caught our attention right away.

    He separated us into groups A and B then further subdivided us into several groups with numbers. He stated that the art of negotiation is better understood when we are practicing it directly. This is one point of valuable practicality that I cannot stress enough. The game consisted of a case study by which each group with the same number had to negotiate, taking 2 different sides (A&B) respectively within a one-hour time limit.

    My own negotiation process could be summed up as a success in a short time with both sides reaching a satisfactory agreement from their own agenda. However, it was evident that this result was not guaranteed amongst all the groups. Some groups went to long negotiation process and some did not even reach an agreement. This goes to show that negotiation can reach very different conclusions from the same case. The results of negotiations depend heavily on negotiators and their influence.
    One valuable lesson that I definitely learned in this frontiers workshop was the difference in creating and claiming value. Creating value is combining total utility that negotiators of both sides earn by the final transaction, while claiming value is the personal utility that a negotiator earns from said transaction. We are often caught up with the idea that the ‘winner takes all’ (at least as much as possible) in any negotiation. However, an exemplary negotiator is not only able to extract and utilize information to form a winning strategy, but also to create bigger value in the transaction that optimizes the overall gain by both parties.

    This was definitely one of the most practical frontier sessions that I have attended. For all future MSTM students, I highly recommend this session because the skill of negotiation can be utilized in any part of a situation especially when we are entering the corporate world.

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