Negotiations Class Experience

Hope everyone had a nice holiday season! I am now back in New Orleans for my last semester as a Freeman MBA student. It is bittersweet, but I am excited to see where I will end up. I started this semester taking a five day negotiations course. It was one of my favorite courses at Tulane because I really enjoyed the experiential learning process.

On the first day of our negotiations class, I learned a lot about the rules a person should follow when negotiating something. The first thing that I never considered was that you have to have something to offer to negotiate. If you don’t, you have nothing to leverage.  Two key takeaways I learned in the class were the reservation price and the best alternative to a negotiated settlement (BATNA). The reservation price is the least you are willing to accept in the settlement. This number or figure is important to remember and not go beyond. The BATNA is what you would be willing to accept in lieu of an agreement.

On the second day of class, we discussed standards and how they provide criteria for evaluating a range of agreements, but they are not always objective. For example, finding out what someone else got for a car is helpful, but it does not guarantee you the same deal.  But standards help because they provide some type of measure of consistency.

Another important factor we discussed is establishing effective relationships. Depending on who you are negotiating with, this aspect might be more important. Different cultures and societies place a higher value on the networking and relationship a person builds before a negotiation takes place. If that relationship is nonexistent, no negotiating will take place.  If a person figures out what the other parties’ interests are, they can use that to help create an agreement.

Many negotiations require the use of an agent or a third party to come in and help the negotiation take place. Sometimes this is because it is too difficult to negotiate on your own due to personal factors or the negotiation requires a certain type of knowledge that the principals do not have.

The last day involved a group negotiation with different people representing various interests. This negotiation was also fun because it felt very similar to what a real life situation would involve; making multiple parties happy. I represented the unions and I was surprised that the other teams were quite supportive of the demands I was asking for. It was more difficult for some of the other interest groups to gather support. Negotiations can be quite difficult and I think the key is to keep the discussion ongoing and to try and understand the other person’s needs and where they are coming from.

Overall, this class was incredibly beneficial to me and I hope I have mastered some new skills. These skills will certainly come in handy when negotiating a salary package. A big thank you to Professor DeNisi.

Amy Garrick

MBA Candidate