The Most Popular Course: Negotiation

This semester, I decided to take what may be the most popular course at Fisher: Negotiation. It’s taught by Associate Professor Lount. Many Fisher students (in all programs) rave about it and our program director also highly recommended it to me. I’m beginning to understand why!

After the course introduction and our self-introductions, the first class actually began with a negotiation. Every student was assigned to a role: either a seller or a buyer. We picked up confidential information based on our roles. I was so nervous for my first negotiation because I believed I was not good at negotiating. I would rather obey what the other party said than start a negotiation. Due to my nervousness, I did not say much during the negotiation– which may press my partner (the one with whom I was negotiating) to rise his offered price (I was a seller and my partner was a buyer). To my surprise, I got the second highest price in the class! I learned from the first negotiation: be comfortable with silence. More importantly, I started to gain confidence.

After we learned basic concepts of negotiation, we started to learn some useful negotiation tactics. For example: providing several offers which are of the same value can show our flexibility as well as learn give the chance to learn the other party’s needs and wants. I’ve already conducted this tactic in one of my negotiations. In this negotiation, we had four roles: buyer, buyer’s agent, seller, and seller’s agent. My role was as seller’s agent and my task was to negotiate with the buyer’s agent and help my client sell her house at a reasonable price. We had several rounds of back-and-forth. Every round, I offered 2-3 offers with different prices, closing costs, and pay methods. After the negotiation, I counted my offers: I provided almost 10 offers in a negotiation. Although we did not reach a deal at last, both my client and the buyer’s agent were satisfied with me. It was a tough exercise– conducted via e-mail, so most time I just waited for a reply and when I heard from my client or the buyer’s agent, I had to consider my target and then different offers I would like to provide. Also, because we couldn’t talk face-to-face, I had to consider my words and tone in the emails carefully.

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As the course went on, the negotiation became more complicated and more people were involved. For example, 4-6 people with different roles may have been involved in a negotiation and each would have had different interests and targets. Or it was likely that we had to solve 3-5 issues in a negotiation and each issue was not independent. But after practicing in the class, I was more comfortable and confident to deal with different negotiations.

Negotiation is a practical skill. Therefore, we spent much time in the class practicing. Every time after a negotiation, we would conclude with what happened in the negotiation and what we learned. I think that by the time the class is over this semester, my negotiation skills will be much improved!