How to get a firm GRASP on negotiating…

Summer term’s in full swing, and while the pre-MIMers are… pre-MIMing, the current cohort is negotiating!  We’ve got our second, and sadly our last class with Professor Melanie Billings-Yun, of Pacific Rim Economies fame.  While for many MIMers, Melanie was one of our favorite professors based on our history and political science course in the program, she skyrocketed ahead to the top of most lists, after seeing her in her true element: negotiations.  Melanie was a senior partner at Global Resolutions, a consultant company related to business and negotiations, and now does private consultant work and negotiation coaching.  The MIM Negotiations course revolves around her work in the field, experiences from years of real negotiations and her book: Beyond Dealmaking: Five Steps to Negotiating Profitable Relationships.  A short description of the book, as it appears on Melanie’s website is as follows:

“Whether you’re tired of being taken advantage of, are fed up at having hard-fought negotiations collapse before they can bear fruit, or are looking for a more positive way of resolving differences, Beyond Dealmaking will show you how to reap tangible, even amazing results as negotiation goes from painful and punishing to positive and rewarding. Even those who cringe at the sound of raised voices can learn to be master negotiators, as you discover that the greatest victories come not through fighting battles but through establishing profitable and satisfying relationships.”

What’s key about this negotiation style is that it shifts focus from the more conventional (at least as I understood it) negotiation style, in which there is a clear winner and loser – where a negotiation pitted you against them, in a no-holds-barred negotiation to the death.  A negotiation where there could be only one (forgive the Highlander reference…).  These were the kind of negotiations where one party was left bitter from getting the raw end of the deal, and future dealings with those same parties were unlikely.  Melanie’s “new school” method of negotiating sets up the possibility of a win/win scenario, where nobody has to leave a negotiation feeling dejected or cheated, but instead, profitable, long-term relationships can be formed.  The crux of the negotiation style comes down the the GRASP method, in which a significant amount of planning goes into a negotiation before it actually takes place.  A GRASP follows this guideline (again, from Melanie’s website):

Considering the Goals of all parties

Developing Routes to maximize mutual benefit and promote synergy

Using valid Arguments to build openness, trust and common understanding

Benchmarking Substitutes to keep relationships from growing stale or one-sided

Increasing your Persuasion through empathetic communication and genuine care

While it sounds simple enough, having a prepared GRASP analysis and going into a negotiation (be it big or small) makes a huge difference.  At least it does for me – I’ve never considered myself a very good negotiator, and find myself capitulating more often than not.  This class and Melanie’s negotiating style have definitely proven to be one of the most valuable parts of the MIM program, and a definite edge over other programs out there!



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