NAFTA, Negotiation, and You!
So, we’ve now been talking about NAFTA, for what seems since Vietnam. And it got us wondering, what took us so long and do we just really suck that bad at negotiating? To get the answer to that, we got all Sherlock Holmes on you all. We also wanted to see if negotiation training works or if you can go in cold, like it appears all parties did in regards to NAFTA.
Fortunately, there’s some smart people that know a bit about negotiation. They’re German, which if you think about the Treaty of Versailles back about 100 years ago, you might be thinking that we should let the Germans just stick to engineering some cool cars. But, in a Journal of Applied Psychology article a couple years back entitled “Does it Take Two to Tango?” leaves us wondering that maybe our U.S. Trade Office should’ve done their homework before sitting down at that big fancy table in hip cities using our taxpayer money.
Are you a buyer or a seller?
This German team of researchers put 360 undergraduates, or guinea pigs, through a series of experiments. And they divided the students into two categories that we all see in negotiation. That’s right, you got it. Buyer and Seller, since in every negotiation we’re either selling one argument or buying it. Or, eating it! Then they gave some of these kids some negotiation training and others they left to flounder and got no training like Mark Wahlberg in the Gambler.
Integrative negotiation performance (Gag)
They wanted to see if training impacted negotiation performance in terms of securing some WIN/WIN bargaining outcomes. I know, the phrase WIN/WIN tends to trigger the gag reflux. The Germans, thankfully, called it integrative negotiation performance. I’ll puke at that too.
The results are about as crisp as a stroll through Montreal, naked, in January. When both the Buyer and the Seller got the training, negotiation performance was strong. So, you don’t need to be a National Merit Scholar to get the Big Rock here—training works.
These crafty Germans found some other cool stuff, though. They found that when the Seller got the negotiation training, but the Buyer didn’t, there was still a positive impact on getting to WIN/WIN scenarios. F*ck, I said it again. But the reverse wasn’t true. If the Buyer got the training, but the Seller didn’t, then there was no “pop” in negotiation performance. They had an opinion here—that buyers are more concerned about loss aversion and that training doesn’t help when you’re going against an untrained Seller. Just the opposite with the Sellers. Sellers are about maximizing gains. These two different mental models, we guess, affect how we approach negotiation. If it makes your head hurt just remember that training the Buyer means nothing if we can’t train the Seller. Another cool parting shot is that this German team of researchers found that the training was kinda “sticky”—in a good way. 30 days after the training, they repeated some of the experiments and got some pretty darn good results. In other words, training seems to last longer than a day or two when it comes to negotiating.
The Bottom Line
Do we have to draw it up for you? Mamma says that if you’re the Seller, you better get yo’ ass trained. Ideally, we should demand WIN/WIN (I just put a $5 in our swear jar) training for both sides because it works. And it tends to last a bit. Let’s hope that we all remember that moving forward with China and all others we negotiate with on a daily basis.
Jackal 6 out.