Negotiation Exercise Reflection

September 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

In our collaborative studio course last week we went through a 1-on-1 negotiation exercise. The scenario pitted two mid-level managers at a newspaper in a negotiation to spend $1M. I thoroughly enjoyed the negotiation role playing and possibly got too involved in my character’s perspective to produce a result closer to what I think that I would have reached for in my life.

As Coleman, one of the first emotions I felt was a sense of competition with Martinez. Competition is certainly part of many workplaces and this scenario made sure to play that aspect up through the inclusion of potential job promotions and encouraging us to exceed stated goals. (Both of which are appropriate workplace phenomenon.) The secretive nature of the exercise also helped to create an us, advertising, versus them, editorial, mentality, and I fell for the common trap of thinking that we both could not win.

Reflecting on my real-life experiences in the workplace I feel that I am much more of a team player than I was in the exercise, not that I tried to pillage Martinez. I enjoy being part of a team both with in my department and my company and work to achieve results that are beneficial to all parties (and that was before I entered this program which opened and continues to open my eyes to the powers of integrative thinking).

That said, I don’t think that I made Martinez look bad or drastically impaired our company’s future. I worked to make sure I got the better end of the bargain while Martinez met her quality points goal. My character was focused on bringing in money to the company and I felt that achieving her quality goals (94), which should be set high, and exceeding return-on-investment (ROI) goals ($1.2M) was a beneficial result and appropriate to the realities of the corporate world. I felt that we achieved a nice balance and we both agreed that we were happy with what we each received.

However, it was eye-opening to see that better results were achieved and that there was potential for very high quality and very high ROI. I feel this is also possible in the real world and that too often individuals and corporations alike settle for or can only envision lower results.

What were some of the reasons that I fell into this traditional corporate trap? I believe that the main cause was that I did not have an understanding of what quality points were measuring and if 94 was an average or high number. For some reason Martinez and I did not discuss exactly what a quality point was and how it would help our company, while dollars and cents are easily relatable. We had an amenable discussion and probably started making agreements before we fully explored what we each wanted and what would benefit us both as well as the company. I did hide the fact that I was exceeding by a nice margin my ROI goal while Martinez simply met hers. Had I shared this fact we might have looked for ways to even out our numbers, but I was shortsighted and settled for our agreement.

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