Analysis of a negotiation
Analysis of a negotiation
(1) Identify and explain the situation and its requirements. What it is (was) at stake here?
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Negotiations in the society are used as major mechanisms of solving disputes and making key decisions. Though they take part in different levels and magnitudes such as organization, family and personal considerations, the mode of application is relatively similar. My case took place at a personal level when I was eighteen between me and my parents. While both parties operated from a family point of view (daughter and parents), negotiations proceeded to a climax for an agreement to be reached.
At the onset of winter of the year 2007, my parents used to drop and pick my youngest sister (Alison) from school. However, these two tasks greatly conflicted with their working schedule as they mostly got late to work and had to leave earlier than usual. Consequently, I was best placed to do the job because my job was only part time since I reported well after my sister’s school reporting time and was done much earlier before her picking up. To effectively meet these obligations I was engaged in a heated debate with my parents. Here is part of the conversation.
“Now that I will be dropping and picking Alison from school alongside my job” I argued “I think you should buy me a car for everything to run smoothly.”
“Why really do you need a car? Dad exclaimed in dismay,” I think the nature of your work slots perfectly with the time for dropping and picking Alison from school?”
“Mom” I added, “I think you are not getting me clearly, though I have not told you, the last two weeks have been very stressful because I get to the workplace just on-time and I do not have ample time for preparation.”
“Let me see”, exclaimed dad, “I am worried that our economic situation at the moment is not very good and your consideration for a car is rather fetched from too far; I mean I have not seen any of your friends with a car!”
Notably, my parents appeared to lack the exact connection between the need for a car for just dropping and picking my sister from school. But then what other benefits were connected to the future of my consideration for getting a car. What was the opportunity cost of not getting a car for me? How better could the situation be addressed? My mom immediately intervened as dad appeared to give up and argued that it was indeed a waste of time and need for taking a more cost effective alternative. Though addressing both parties, but directing it at mom, I told her to generally consider the overall loses they made by opening our business later than usual, closing earlier and the need for taking Alison to school on time. Indeed, all the three activities were very critical and none could go without being addressed.
Then our relationship appeared to take a center stage as negotiation took a less diplomatic consideration with dad softening up as I was almost giving up. I considered the position of my parents especially economically and the need to maintain effective relationship and saw the need for reasoning out with them. Indeed, the outcome would be great for me, my parents, our job and most importantly my sister Alison.
(2) If it had taken place, explain what worked and what did not work.
Notably, buying a car for me was a very costly undertaking. Indeed, the face value of the car as my dad had initially argued was over ten times the amount that either my parents or I would use in taking my sister to school. But was that the only cost? As indicated earlier, I told my parents not to only consider the face loss they were incurring but to extend it to other permanent impacts it had in losing their customers to the neighboring competitors of their business in town, and possible loss of my job from lack of effective preparations. Therefore the common interests became clearer. As indicated in this section of the discussion with my parents, I was slowly winning the negotiations.
“I think your son has a point” dad told mom, “I was wondering why Mrs. Dickinson (one of the former consumers) has stopped buying from our shop and shifted to the neighboring shop.”
“Listen Dad” I explained further, “if you buy me a car you will be able to maintain all your consumers at the shop and even win others.”
“By giving your daughter a car”, mom emphasized, “I think she will become more responsible.”
“Mom” I added, “you should be able to trust me and I will not let you down.”
“I think your daughter is correct” argued Dad, “besides, she is above eighteen years and should start learning how to behave responsibly.”
“Not only will I be taking Alison to school” I continued “but I will also help you with other jobs in the business after picking Alison.”
“Let me see” added dad, “can I really trust my daughter… I remember Richardson’s Son had a very serious accident last month but one and is still hospitalized.”
Though my parents appeared to agree with me that I was indeed of age to start being more responsible, they were still skeptical. Indeed, my dad had to emphasize that I promise I would always act responsibly always to take care of the vehicle when on the road. Besides, I had to equally agree that if any damage occurred due to my irresponsibility, dad would withdraw the car from me. Though it appeared very harsh from my dad, it turned out to be the baseline for his acceptance to buying me a car.
A week after, my parents and I shopped for a good car which I am currently using to drop and pick Alison from school, and go to work. As I had predicted, my dad has recently indicated that some customers in his town business are indeed coming back. Since my work place is just near my dad’s shop, I am also able to help with some jobs because I can move faster. At my work place, I arrive much earlier and therefore effectively settle and prepare before starting off. I must indicate that I am extremely cautious as we agreed with dad about two key things; first, that I can be able to defend my argument. This consideration has already started being evident as dad’s work place resumes normal operations. Secondly, I am very cautious about the commitment I made on being responsible. As a result I always drive cautiously and observe road rules and regulations to prevent avoidable incidences on the road.
(3) Discuss your personal philosophy of negotiating and lay out your approach to the situation based upon that philosophy.
Negotiations philosophy acts as a platform within which opposing parties employ to arrive at agreeable solutions (Nixon, 2005). My philosophy in this negotiation was that everything is negotiable if the key concepts are well thought of and repercussions for both sides well outlined. However, I must indicate that I was almost giving up at some point as I considered my dad’s argument of his economic status. Effective identification of the existing problem acted as a major pointer at the need for a solution. In this case, by deriving the actual loss that my parents were making in opening their business late, it immediately created a room for possible alternative. However, my proposed solution for them to buy me a car appeared as an extreme consideration. How then did they come to concur with my proposal? What were the immediate best alternatives?
Having identified the problem and made my parents to agree that indeed there was need for a solution, I emphasized on expanded positive outcomes that would come along my proposal. For instance, apart from assisting in restoring the business operations by taking over the duty of dropping and picking Alison from school, having a car would facilitate my ability to assist my parent with some of the business and home chores. This would indeed further reduce the cost of running the business and give a possible consideration for expansion. Though this philosophy appeared to work very well, my parents saw a chance of further emphasizing on responsibility from me by pegging their agreement to specific conditions every-time I would be on the road. Though the need to balance the relationship I had with my parents was very crucial, this philosophy took the negotiations to a very analytical point where expected benefits and conditions took the center stage in determining the final outcome.
For effective negotiation, alternatives facilitate a better grip for both parties towards arriving at a more acceptable middle ground that is acceptable for them. Therefore, what was my Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA)? To begin with, I considered taking the bus to drop Alison to school and pick her in the evening. However, this alternative was problematic in that I had to change buses as I dropped Alison and also as I pick her in the evening; a consideration that would greatly increase the overall cost. Similarly, taking a train would require me to make a stopover at Alison’s school to drop and pick her in the morning and evening respectively. Since our neighbors’ children also go to the same school with Alison, I could also ask for rides when taking my sister to school. However, asking for rides would requires me to fit in our friends’ time schedule; a factor that would not solve my problem in getting to work early enough for effective planning. Though my BATNA would equally facilitate my parents getting to work on time, they were inferior in that I could not provide any input to their business.
Notably, my parents’ philosophy changed from avoiding to compromising as they realized the magnitude of the problem and their extended effects. This shift contributed greatly towards the conclusion that buying a vehicle had great positive implications to more parties involved in the whole consideration.
(4) Describe your hoped outcome.
Negotiators as many scholars argue, have their outcomes well outlined at the back of their minds. To concur with Nixon (2005), though these outcomes are usually very clear to the negotiators, they are rarely met. While this could also be a source of controversy especially if opposing sides take a competitive stand, they should be carefully exploited to navigate negotiations towards the most effective alternative that is acceptable to both parties.
Notably, having not been involved in a previous high profile negotiation, I considered myself on a losing end for lack of experience. This view was made worse by the fact that I was dealing with a party (parents) which I was part to because I stayed in their house and therefore a factor in their business enterprise which was our main income in the family. In this case, I utilized the knowledge which I acquired through reading various business negotiations; most importantly, on establishing the different expected outcomes. This consideration helps negotiators avoid the perception that they are getting a raw deal, avoid consideration of total loss and most importantly, facilitate easier conclusions.
My first hoped outcome was that my parents would see the sense in buying me a car and therefore concur with me in the shortest time. However, though it worked at last, I really had to bring out the negative implications that underlie the current system. As indicated earlier, my dad was at one point almost dismissing the whole idea until I brought in the actual extended benefits to be realized from my viewpoint. Acceptance to this outcome was found to greatly improve the overall efficiency for my parents, their business, my sister Alison and myself. Indeed, my dad latter confessed seeing business consumers getting back.
My second hoped outcome was that they would settle for a more economically friendly consideration; a motor bike. Though this outcome would perfectly fit the situation similar to a car, my sister and I would be greatly disadvantaged during the rainy season and we would also suffer from excessive windy situations on the road. I also considered it to be less prestigious and therefore greatly hoped for the first option to be acceptable.
As indicated earlier, I hoped that if the above two options failed to work, my parents would consider me talking the bus or train. Though this consideration as indicated earlier had great repercussions especially to my work, it would ease their ability to run the business. Notably, I would consider to have lost in the negotiations but still accept to maintain a good relationship with my parents. In this case, I hoped that they would meet the extra cost that came with taking the train or bus in dropping and picking my sister Alison to and from school, and proceeding to my work place.
Finally, I hoped that if all other methods in the negotiations failed to work, the current status-quo would remain. This would mean that negotiations failed to yield any results and therefore I would have to adjust psychologically in preparing very fast after I got at my work place. It is from this understanding that I struggled very much to ensure we did not settle for this last outcome. Notably, though the first expected outcome was at last accepted, it was not without conditions which tagged key responsibilities to it.
Nixon, P. (2005). Negotiation. New York: John Wiley and Son.