Reflection on Negotiations Unit

Reflection on Negotiations Unit

NEGOTIATION REFLECTION

Reflectionon Negotiations

Unit

Life is a series of decisions and negotiations. Individuals and evenorganizations engage in negotiations day in day out. This can takeplace consciously or subconsciously. Ideally, negotiations take placewhere the outcome of a decision is likely to impact more than oneparty. Negotiations thus take place through dialogue aimed atreaching a mutually beneficial agreement. All my life, I have beeninvolved in negotiations with my parents, tutors over test scores,and negotiations with friends over who will buy dinner and suchstuff. To develop my negotiations skills and for course requirements,I reflect on a recent event where I was involved in negotiation witha salesman at my local automobile dealership over an automobile tradein.

Technically, this negotiation started about a year ago. I had visitedmy local auto-dealer to learn how much it would cost me to trade inmy old car for a newer model I had my eyes on. I had been informed itwould cost me $4,500. Having saved this amount this year, I visitedthe dealership over the past weekend hoping to make the deal happen.However, the transaction was not as straightforward as I hadexpected. The dealership salesman claimed that my car had depreciatedin value since last year and that factoring in inflation, it meantthat the top-up amount had risen to $6,500. This set the stage forthe negotiation as I sought to make a top-up I could afford and onethat I considered fair to me. In the end, there was no agreement asthe dealership stuck to a top-up amount beyond my reach. In spite ofthat, I can take a lot from the case.

To start with, I evaluated my negotiation approach. I had anticipatedusing the cooperative, interest-based approach learned in class.According to Hilbert (2010), this approach is best suited forsituations where any agreement reached benefits both parties andthere is likelihood for long term relationship. On one hand, I knewthe salesman was motivated by the commission he receives on anytransactions made. This is information I have gathered from empiricalobservations. I also learned that these salesmen are given a minimumprice which to offer customers and it was upon them to try and pushclients to pay higher than the minimum price. Therefore, thecooperative, interest-based approach suited me, the salesman and thedealership.

However, given that the recommended retail price of my targetautomobile is provided by the manufacturer, I knew I had little roomfor negotiating the price of a new automobile. What I was moreconcerned about was me acting a seller and quoting the highest valuefor my older automobile which would lower the top-up amount requiredfor the trade in. As such, I was involved in two roles in thenegotiation buying and selling the same way as the salesman. Iassumed that the salesman would look forward to benefit bytransacting with me motivated by the commission. I also believed thatthe salesperson would be interested in a long term relationship withas a client in the hope that I would be a client in future whoqualifies for a special discount for return customers.

In line with the Interest-based approach, I shared information aboutthe benefits of my car. The salesman on the other hand pointed areasof weaknesses about my car with the respective proposed monetaryvalue. This resulted into offers and counteroffers. I changed tactand stuck to a figure that I believed was the right fair value of mycar. Looking back, I think I should have changed the approach for thebenefit of all parties. I took this position based on my dad’sadvice and the original purchase documents that my father hadprovided. I was convinced that my car could not be valued less thanwhat I quoted to the salesperson. By taking this position, thesalesperson also took my cue and stopped making counteroffers andinstead also took a position on the final valuation of my car whichinfluenced the top-up amount. This led to a stalemate.

I feel that I could have steered the negotiations better by stickingto the cooperative approach. If I was willing to change my positionon the valuation of my car, then I could also encourage thesalesperson to cooperate and change his valuation. Borrowing fromElShenawy (2010), it is important for negotiators like me to noteareas of agreement and disagreement. In this case, I do recall onekey issue that the salesperson had pointed out was the condition ofthe car especially the interior which he had indicated would requirerefurbishing. In fact, one door to one of the compartments in thedashboard was loose.

The experience thus taught me a lot of things in negotiations. Themost important is the need to understand an approach and sticking toit. The fact that I change my approach from cooperate interest-basedto positional approach, I failed to take note of the importantrequisites for making the positional approach one. Schneider (2011)indicates that one must first identify the sources of power and howone can increase his own and reduce that of the other party. To startwith, I did not have much power because I was the one in greaterneed. I had invested time, money and hopes in preparing for thenegotiation than the salesperson had. If the deal collapsed, I wouldlose more plus bear the cost of the car evaluation test.

The whole exercise thus gave me a good objective view of mynegotiation skills. One major weakness I learned about me is thatthere was little teamwork and collaboration between me and my dad.Before we traveled to the dealership, I had asked my dad if he couldloan me some money just in case the top up amount had increased towhich he had replied “we will see about that.” This answer wasambiguous and I had never sought further clarifications. While my dadknew the exact amount of money I could afford in making the deal, hedid not make any offer to me during the negotiations as to how muchhe was capable of lending me. Instead he had asked me to reconsider acheaper model that would require the exact top up amount I had. Ifelt like he betrayed me there. This taught me that there is need toproper collaboration and teamwork on one party of negotiators beforefacing off with the opponents.

Another thing that I learned is that I had not considered well thepotential counter offers the salesperson was going to make.Predicting such counteroffers would have given me ample time to learnand prepare for the negotiations. Thus, as much as I want to be sureof what I have to offer on the negotiation table, I should also taketime to learn what the other party has to offer and any potentialcounteroffers he or she may offer.

To gain a betterunderstanding of my capabilities and weaknesses in the negotiationprocess, I talked to the salesperson the following day. I informedhim that I was disappointed that I had failed to close the deal andthat the negation was also coursework learning exercise. He thusshared with me some few ideas on negotiations and highlighted on mystrengths and weaknesses based on our failed negotiation. Aspredicted, he mentioned my failure to compromise and even considerother models that would match the top up amount I had as the coreweakness. On the other hand, he was impressed with my interpersonalskills, emotional control, active listening and good communicationskills.

All in all, the exercise was very exciting for me. Although I did thenegotiation to my level best, I failed. I plan to address myweaknesses and further work on my strengths. The areas that I plan towork on pertain to digging background information and knowing myopponents in negotiations well. By employing this tactic, I believe Iwill make a competent negotiator.

References

ElShenawy, E.(2010). Does negotiation training improve negotiators’ performance?Journal of

EuropeanIndustrial Training 34(3): 192-210.

Hilbert, J. (2010).Collaborative lawyering: A process for interest-based negotiation.Hofstra

Law Review 38(4):1083-1101.

Schneider, A.K.(2011).Teaching a New Negotiation Skills Paradigm. WashingtonJournal of

Law and Policy39(3): 13-38.

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