by Zachary Jones, Gardere
The May session of the 2017 LEAD YP program featured a group activity and a panel discussion on negotiation.
YP LEAD candidate Luis Herrera opened by heading a negotiation exercise. Each class member received two dollar bills and a set of secret negotiation instructions that dictated the member’s negotiation style. Class members then paired up to negotiate with one another over the dollars, with the goal collect as much money as possible. After the first round, class members found a different partner to renegotiate. The group discussed the results and negotiation tactics. Regardless of any one person’s negotiation style, everyone agreed that the second round was easier because of the preparation and experience obtained in the first round. This exercise demonstrated preparation and planning are often the most important part of a successful negotiation.
After a sponsored lunch by Tropical Smoothie Café, the class enjoyed a panel discussion on negotiation.
The panel, comprised of three lawyers and a lobbyist, provided insight from the point of view of a negotiator who had to fully consider and understand a client’s goals and expectations prior to undertaking a negotiation. Understanding these elements, and general preparation, was among the main strategy the panelists identified as the starting point for having a successful negotiation. Additional key strategies included: effective communication, speaking from one point-of-contact, and patience with the other side and the process in general.
With respect to overall negotiation strategy, the panel members generally discarded the concept that a negotiation is always a march to the middle. Negotiation strategy should depend on the facts of the situation, the subject matter, and the parties’ positions. These elements similarly apply when determining whether a negotiation was a success. The panel noted that when considering whether a negotiation is a success, keep in mind that a deal can’t be “too good” or “too bad” for one side, or the deal won’t get done, and thus parties should expect to give up something during the process.
The panel members then described their “deals gone bad,” providing the following takeaways to avoid similar fates:
• Don’t fail to understand the other side’s priorities;
• Don’t lose credibility with the other side;
• Don’t fail to do due diligence or do the extra work; and
• Don’t fail to prepare.
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