How can you use an MBA to help you negotiate the price of an old bike?
The answer is, simply, by enrolling in one of the many electives offered as part of the UCD Smurfit MBA program: “Managing the Negotiation Process”. Personally, I always felt that I am not very good at negotiation; but after attending this course, I feel more and more confident about my abilities as a negotiator.
The course’s first pillar is to build self-awareness about our strengths, weaknesses, biases, and even the myths in which we believe. After doing my first self-reflection for the module, I found out that I am described as a ‘satisfier’, which means that I am not too ambitious when engaging in negotiation. I focus too much on being fair, thus letting the other party get the bigger piece of the pie.
“You Need to Be Either Tough or Soft” ; “Good Negotiators Are Born”; “Good Negotiators Take Risks”; “Good Negotiators Rely on Intuition”: here are some examples of the myths in which I believed in the past, and which I now know are wrong. The course helped me understand myself as well as improve my negotiation skills.
Many people think that negotiation is all about instinct, but it is also wrong. Negotiation is a logical process. The second pillar of the course is to give us a clear analytical process which if followed correctly should lead to a Win-Win situation. Yes, a Win-Win situation! Many people think that a successful negotiation should be a Win-Loss: False. A Win-Loss situation is usually unsustainable, especially if it is with a supplier, a client, or even a partner.
After my bike was stolen, I decided to buy another one, because riding is one of the most efficient means of transportation in Dublin. My criteria were that the bike should look as old as possible to avoid being stolen again, and that it should have a fair price. I found what I was looking for in a bike store downtown. The only issue was that it was priced twice the budget that I had planned for. Thus, I decided to apply my newly acquired negotiation skills.
One of the first things that I learnt is that negotiation is never a fixed pie. It is a variable pie. Therefore, I was looking to expand the pie, so both the shopkeeper and I can find a win in the situation. While discussing with the shopkeeper, I shared with him information that completely changed the course of the negotiation: I told him that I still had the tire of my old bike. For me, the tire had zero value; but the shopkeeper had a different perception of the same tire. He probably can use it to repair other old bikes, or sell it as it is.
This example perfectly shows that a negotiation is not a fixed sum and that a
Win-Win situation may arise if both parties are open to communicating effectively. Knowing from my first self-reflection exercise that I am a ‘satisfier’, I decided to maximize my part of the pie as well and accept the deal only if the shopkeeper cut the price by half, which – happily – he did.
Therefore, I was able to apply the process I learned during the module in one of the simplest negotiations of our daily life–and it worked. That is how the MBA helped me negotiate the price of my bike.
The MBA gives you a new set of lenses so you can see the world differently. The skills that we gain apply not only in the business world, but also in our daily life.
—Yassine Jelassi, Full-time MBA 2019-2020