Laurel and Associates, Ltd. – Madison, WI

Day 1 of Interest Based Negotiation for Mercy Corps in Amman

Day 1 of Interest Based Negotiation for Mercy Corps in Amman

On January 17, 2015, Posted by , In Travelogue, By , With Comments Off on Day 1 of Interest Based Negotiation for Mercy Corps in Amman

Well, today went amazingly well. First, thanks to Jerri, I had something to put under my eyes to hide how tired I was. The bed was SOOO comfortable, but I only had the four hours of sleep in 36 hours and I did not look perky and alert before makeup!

The breakfast buffet was amazing. I was good, confining myself to fresh fruit and nuts, with a little smoked salmon and cucumber. Just the pastries alone were mind-boggling.

When I got to the room, I commandeered a gentleman to show me how to turn on the LCD and then connect with it. It took two men, thirty minutes, three different cables, and two different outlets to finally make it work. I was incredibly serene throughout the entire adventure, which goes to show how tired I was!!

The downside was that the cable ran across the entire room, so we had to move tables and chairs so no one would trip or inadvertently yank the cable and pull my Mac Air toppling to the floor.

The group is wonderful, with great senses of humor, very appreciative, very engaged,
with lots of questions. They love the ducks and other prizes I give them. Zaid told me he still has the duck he got in my TOT three years ago.

By mid afternoon I realized that there was a group of four at a back table who clearly had difficulty with English- which meant that it took them 3 times as long to read than anyone else in the room. Tomorrow I will split everyone up and require that each person sit with someone who can assist them with English translations.

We had lots of interesting discussions. One dealt with the difference between interests and positions. We decided, based on my strenuous encouragement, that positions are rigid and reactive- I won’t back down from this position- whereas interests are what we would like to gain, although these are flexible and can be reconfigured as the negotiation proceeds.

We had terrible difficulty agreeing as to what a BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) was. My belief was that a BATNA is based on your key interests- what you really need, versus what you might like to gain. Zaid and others who had already been trained by Mercy Corps in this subject, felt that a BATNA was what you do if the negotiation fails- such as demonstrating or striking. We went back and forth, temporarily agreeing to disagree. A number of participants were understandably confused and requested more discussion tomorrow.

After the class, Zaid, Heba, and Morad discussed this further with me. Essentially, we concluded that both Zaid and I were correct:

There are two different types of BATNA- Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement:

If I can’t get everything I WANT, what do I absolutely NEED to get?

This BATNA can be used at two different points in a win/win negotiation:

  1. to select a satisfactory option that meets your key interests;
  2. to come to an agreement if nothing else (common interests or objective standards) has been effective

If I can’t get what I absolutely NEED to get, what other ALTERNATIVES  do I have within my scope of power and authority?

This BATNA can also be used at two different points in a win/win negotiation:

  1. to bring up in a strategic manner during a negotiation if it is
    not going well (i.e., if we can’t come to a mutual agreement, this is the negative action I will take, such as demonstrate or go on strike);
  2. to implement when no agreement has been reached.

I emailed this to Zaid to make copies for everyone, which should help to clear things up enormously.

Lunch today was also spectacular. I’ll have to take a photo tomorrow so you can see what I’m raving about.

The only issue I have with the training is that people smoke immediately outside the room, which is where the “tea” is set up (coffee, tea, juice, sweet rolls). I had a few small coughing fits and explained how allergic I am. They’ve been wonderful at moving away from the door. However, when I need to bring them back in after break, I have to go through some smoke.

Today, Saturday, is the second day of their weekend- but 21 of 25 people came. Some came late, so we started later. After our first break, I started exactly when I said I would and the many latecomers cleaned up their act for every subsequent break.

I’ll conclude this with a few of the lovely comments they put on today’s evaluation, beginning with my absolute favorite: “Presenter is knowledgeable and has a diplomatic lovable character that makes it easier to interact and understand.” “She’s great.. I feel comfortable talking to her and she has very good time management. She gives us a fair time to answer our questions, she was so patient.” “Loved the atmosphere that was created by the colourful room and the classical music background.”

I was relieved to see this evaluation comment: “Very close to the participants and giving the opportunity to all to participate/ and give the chance for whom who has difficulty in English language.”

I had a fascinating chat over lunch with a Dutch, now Jordanian, gentleman. (Well, he chatted and I ate and listened.) I’ll tell you about it in my next missive.



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