Friday, February 10th, 2017...4:17 pm

What’s stopping you from negotiating (more effectively)?

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Our friends at the Conflict Resolution Centre (CRC) have written a great guest post this week on the importance of negotiation in grad school – read on to learn more!

Negotiation is an important part of graduate life. According to the Oxford dictionary, a negotiation is simply a “[d]iscussion aimed at reaching an agreement”:

  • Emailing back and forth about what time to set up a meeting? You are negotiating.
  • Discussing the purchase of a new piece of equipment for your lab?
  • Talking with your supervisor about taking your research in a new direction (or better yet, taking a vacation)? Probably more of a negotiation than you’d like!

Many of us get nervous or stressed out about the thought of having to talk with a supervisor or colleague about issues that are important to us, especially if we think that we might encounter opposition to what we are hoping to achieve.

Preparation is key to combating nervousness and increasing the likelihood of a satisfactory outcome.  Here are some tips for preparing for your next academic negotiation:

  • Know what you want and why. Given that the end goal of a negotiation is an agreement, you probably want to start by asking yourself – what do I really want?  Then, go one step further, and really think about why you want it.  Many times, the “why” question will reveal a deeper need or “interest” which may enable you to brainstorm a broader range of possible solutions (See: Fisher & Ury).
  • Imagine what the other person might want and why. This is really just a version of the old saying “put yourself in someone else’s shoes”.  You are trying to figure out whether there might be any shared interests and whether there are questions you need to be asking (to confirm or challenge your assumptions). It also helps in being mindful that you will not be the only person in the room who might have needs.
  • Get as much information as you can in advance. Is there a policy or practice in your department or at U of T that might be helpful to read?  Is there anyone who you can talk to (a peer, another faculty member, a staff member) who might be able to give you insights into what you will be negotiating about?
  • Prepare some key questions. As you think about what you want and why, you may find that there is information that you don’t have yet that could be really useful in making a decision or putting forward an argument.  Write them down and be prepared to ask during the discussion.  Remember that you can confidentially bounce ideas around with a G2G in preparation for an important discussion.
  • Preparatory power posing. Give yourself a boost by trying out a few “power poses” before you walk into the room.  According to Amy Cuddy’s controversial research, assuming powerful body postures can affect how you feel, behave and hormone levels – you be the judge if they work!

Remember, that you can control how much you prepare for a negotiation, the way you act during a negotiation, and when you decide to walk away from a negotiation.  What anyone else does before, during or after is not within your control.

If you are interested in learning more about negotiation strategies with the CRC G2G Peer Advisors we offer a three-part GPS series: Conflict Resolution Fundamentals: Conflict Resolution; Communication & Negotiation! (Registration is open for the session which starts next week: February 14, 21 & 28th, 1:30-3:30 (UTSG GradRoom)).

More tips & advice, including short videos, are available on the CRC website or make an appointment to talk to us!

source: PhD Comics

source: PhD Comics

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