The Rodan delegation agreed to meet again with the Sularians, after clearing with its government this pact: Rodan would restrict its exports of tractors to Sularia, as Sularia requested, in exchange for technology and hydroelectric power.
"You just gave away the store," observed the ambassador from Sularia.
"Yes, I guess I did," confessed the ambassador from Rodan.
Sularia and Rodan are imaginary countries in an exercise in that dark continent of conflict resolution. The ambassadors--Martha Alworth of Duluth, Minn., and Mary Strauss of Oakland, Calif., both with the League of Women Voters--were attending a day-long workshop on the art of negotiation.
Running the workshop at Georgetown University was Ellen Raider, who trains corporate executives, foreign service officers and trade ministry officials in international negotiation for Situation Management Systems, Inc. (S.M.S.).
Management-consultant firms are moving into the field of negotiation training to deal with everything from international affairs to bargaining for a new car. All workshops seem to have the same message: We have to learn to listen to each other, and we all need negotiating skills.
Raider's international "module" program may last up to five days. She came down from New York where she runs Ellen Raider International, Inc., to present a shorter version for a Women's Leadership Conference on U.S.-Soviet Relations sponsored by the Committee for National Security.Videotapes often are used to analyze negotiating skills while participants work out the details of exercises like the Rodan-Sularia one. S.M.S. also gives courses in "Positive Power and Influence" and "Situational Selling."
Another management-consultant group, the Coverdale Organization in Rosslyn developed the material for its course, "Negotiating: Principles into Practice," with the Harvard Negotiation Project, two of whose researchers wrote the book, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. Much of the interest in negotiation courses, says Norman Bramble, a Coverdale vice president, "is an outgrowth of legal issues: How do some people get agreement without going to court?"
Huthwaite, Inc., Reston, which offers courses only to organizations, generally blue-chip companies, bases its program on what it learned during a decade of comparing techniques of successful and unsuccessful negotiators.
"Being exposed to this kind of material makes you sense situations where you can use it," says Michael Anderson, general manager of Huthwaite, Inc. In the past few months, he's argued down shopkeepers when buying antiques, negotiated a deal with a moving company and had $2,500 knocked off the price of a car he was buying.
Instead of setting up hypothetical situations, the Huthwaite program will, for example, bring eight lunches into a room of 15 people. It is up to the participants to negotiate on who eats.
"I can't say, let's pretend that I have $100 and you have 50 cents, and both of us need to get to New York tomorrow," says Anderson. "That's so fictitious, nobody can get into it. You need to do something real. If you're trying to train somebody, you can't play at it."
Huthwaite trainers also create situations where trainees win or lose something associated with personal esteem. In this object lesson, the point, says Anderson, is: "You can screw somebody and win. You could damage them. Then what happens tomorrow?" In real life, you have to live with the consequences.
Although none of the 32 women at Ellen Raider's workshop was on the eve of negotiations with a foreign power, they all wanted better ways of resolving conflict and being persuasive in their professional and personal lives--whether with husband, parents, kids or the man behind the meat counter.
"When most people think about negotiation, they come with facts," observes Raider. "But in negotiations, you're not talking about something that's logical. You have vested interests--values."
The best offense is a good defense. She recommends a chalktalk.
Like a coach reviewing football plays before the big game, the negotiating team should ask itself beforehand: What are the other's outward objectives? What are his underlying needs? What "alternate currencies" can I offer him? One example of an alternate currency is a boss' offer of praise instead of a raise.
In their bestselling Getting to Yes, Roger Fisher and William Ury tell about a lawyer who attributes his success directly to his ability to invent solutions advantageous to both his client and the other side. "He expands the pie before dividing it," they write.
There's a lot of pie talk in negotiation theory. Anderson uses this analogy to make the distinction between selling and negotiation: You put the pie in the center of the table and negotiate about who gets how much of it. That's not necessarily the approach you'd use if you were trying to sell the whole pie.
"You negotiate," says Anderson, "when you recognize a certain circumstance: A resource is scarce, and there has to be some sharing of it. That could also be an issue between a husband and wife; the scarce resource may be time together. Those general rules that would apply to a business setting apply to a home setting as well."
If negotiating skills are poor, it's easy, says Raider, to become deadlocked on the level of considering external objectives only. One country wants trade restrictions, but the other country has been instructed by its government (or, in Rodan's case, by Raider) to avoid trade restrictions.
"The art of a good negotiator," says Raider, "is to build trust in such a way that people aren't afraid to reveal their real needs."
In their book, Fisher and Ury underscore the importance of building trust and advise finding ways to meet informally. As a statesman, Ben Franklin's technique was to ask to borrow a certain book--flattering the adversary and giving him the comfortable feeling that Franklin owed him a favor.
In Raider's workshop, the women dreaded deadlock: After a half-hour, most came out with a trade pact, and the rest had agreed to agree.
Negotiation "hosts" Candace DeRussy of the National Strategy Information Center in Bronxville, N.Y., and her fellow Rodan delegate Mary Strauss had purposely placed the chairs in the negotiating room in a circle. They sat across from each other so that, when the two Sularian delegates entered, they wouldn't be able to sit side by side. They thought the roundtable effect would bring people to accord more easily.
These were conciliatory moves that hadn't been taught by Raider, who observed, "A lot of things successful negotiators do and don't do are things we as women have been socialized to do."
Tom Cherenack, 32, international account development manager of Honeywell, Inc., and "graduate" of Raider's five-day training program, says the session underscored for him the need to look for other people's needs, whether you're dealing with a foreign businessman or a 5-year old.
"There's nothing wrong with compromise. Most people don't realize that. They say, 'I've got to be a winner.'
"There are ways of offering currencies and negotiating things with a 5-year-old," observes Cherenack, who has been applying the skills at home. "They are very good at that--you could call it blackmail in some instances."
With his wife, says Cherenack, who lives in Mount Laurel, N.J., it's a question of her running up the bills. The seminar gave him a new outlook: "Instead of yelling and screaming, say, 'let's be logical about this. What are her needs?' As a housewife, she needs to spend."
Some trainers, says Anderson, lecture on negotiation successes, telling war stories to roomsful of people, "those fun-guru things." Only practice in actual negotiation, he stresses, can begin to change behavior in a confrontation.
"You can't learn about how to interact with other people," he says, "by listening to how they do it."