MBA/LAW Team Members Already Using Their Newly Honed Negotiation Skills

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Although they didn’t earn top-standing in this year’s international negotiation challenge, UConn’s team of MBA and Law students were champions nevertheless.

“This experience has already impacted my work,” said MBA-candidate Jasdeep Singh. “I am currently Head of Operations and Marketing for 3BC LLC and we are in the midst of a negotiation that has been months in the making.

“Had I not been through my negotiations class and this competition, my approach in our real-world negotiation would have been very different. I would have tried to move too quickly, gotten into offer-counteroffer volleys, focused more on the outcome of the contract and missed the importance of the process and relationship we all needed to build coming out of the negotiation process,” he said.

Singh participated in The Negotiation World Championship for Students with law-student teammates Kelly MacCluen and Sam Gagnon. The team completed five rounds of negotiations, each requiring a different set of strategies and tools.

“The Negotiation Challenge is an invaluable experience giving students the opportunity to figure out how to collaborate and use their strengths in a team with other negotiators,” said management professor Nora Madjar, who advises the team with law professor Jessica Rubin. “In some negotiations, the team will excel by focusing mostly on the relationship and on creating a mutually beneficial outcome, in others what matters is the ability to claim a larger piece of the pie. It is important to be adaptive and flexible, and, at the same time, confident and firm, and these skills can only be acquired through practice.”

In addition, the challenge gave the UConn team the opportunity to experience cross-cultural issues in negotiations, Madjar said. “While we hear about them and can prepare based on our knowledge of different cultural characteristics, only when facing very different teams from very different countries one can sharpen their awareness and understanding of cross-cultural differences and their ability to manage them.”

“My biggest takeaway from this experience is how much better a negotiator I am with a team,” Singh said. “We complemented one another’s styles well, were very trusting of one another, and agreed to prep hard before any negotiation. With so much involved in a negotiation, where the relationships among the parties and context of the negotiation are as important as some of the actual numbers, I would’ve thought a team, especially a virtual one, would make the process cumbersome.”

“Instead, having three very different people with different perspectives and backgrounds come together with a well understood goal, to perform well, and process, work hard and communicate often, made me feel stronger in each round and actually enjoy the journey that much more,” he said.

Singh had nothing but praise for his teammates and their abilities.

“Kelly is an expert in hearing others out and understanding their points of view and motivations,” he said. “Her optimistic attitude, calm demeanor during negotiations, and ability to play the peacemaker always drew out the best from our team.”

“Sam’s immaculate preparation and honesty and candor during negotiations helped us navigate complex offers,” he continued. “He excels in keeping the team, and the whole negotiation process, focused in order to maintain a productive and positive conversation.”