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Egyptian Protests Offer Lessons in Negotiation, Alumni Told

February 08, 2011
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Stuart Diamond

Stuart Diamond shares insights with alumni and students.

The School’s alumni joined business school alumni from Wharton, Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown and INSEAD this month to brush up on negotiation techniques with Wharton professor and Pulitzer Prize winning former journalist for the New York Times, Stuart Diamond. The author of a new book on negotiations, Getting More, used real life examples from current events such as the protests in Egypt to illustrate how situational tension escalates when there is a breakdown of communication and contrasted these examples with alternative negotiation techniques.

Diamond also cited the debate over health care reform in the U.S., noting that attempts to repeal the recently-passed legislation are largely due to the lack of negotiation between parties during the drafting process of the original bill.

“What I try to do is to think about and teach something different and more innovative that takes elements [of negotiation] that people do sometimes and make it a conscious, structured way of dealing with others.  I train people to have a different attitude on how to deal with every human being that they meet,” Diamond said.

He said that rather than making consequences for negative actions, negotiators should reward positive actions instead because it leaves an impression of encouragement rather than one of hostility.  Diamond also discouraged discussing alternatives or replacements for what is being negotiated about, as this leaves the other party feeling they are less valued.  Instead, Diamond suggested that negotiators focus on the positives that the other party brings and noted that such subtleties can make the difference between a successful working relationship and a failed agreement.

Above all else, Diamond encouraged listeners to treat others with respect and consideration when communicating not just in a negotiation setting, but in all interactions. 

“Finding and understanding the [point of view] in the head of the other party is more important than any collection of research, facts and evidence that you could gather,” he said.

Diamond’s lecture was the result of a partnership between the UM School of Business and The Wharton School Club of South Florida as well as INSEAD, and the alumni clubs of Harvard, Columbia and Georgetown business schools, and included Beta Gamma Sigma.

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