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What is your negotiation style?
Negotiation is one of the most popular electives in the MBA programme. It will take approximately 200 hours of study, but to give you a taste of the course, and to show how this MBA is relevant to the real-world skills necessary for business, you can test your negotiation skills with these interactive questions, taken from the Negotiation course website.
For each question, choose one of the options, then click the 'SUBMIT' button for immediate feedback. To make the experience entertaining as well as instructive, your answer will be categorised as one of the following:
- a donkey response (not too smart!)
- a sheep response
- a fox response
- an owl response (the most astute)
How many 'owl' responses can you collect?
Click the 'DISPLAY OVERALL FEEDBACK' button at the bottom of the page for a summary of your performance.
You want to sell your yacht and you know that you would be very fortunate to get as much as £225 000 for it. While you are considering placing the advertisement, a keen yachtsman approaches you and offers £250 000 in cash immediately for your boat. Do you:
You are thinking only of the profit you might make and not about the problems you might create. These are the characteristics of a sheep. Always challenge a first offer!
How crazy can you get? His offer is already more than you were hoping for and to delay a decision by sending him out of your sight is foolhardy – he might see another boat on the way back to his car. This is the stubborn characteristic of a donkey.
Absolutely right. No matter how good the first offer, haggle; he might offer even more (the choice of a fox) and, anyway, he will be happier with the boat if he thinks he squeezed the boat out of you at his price (the sure touch of an owl, if you thought through these consequences of the problem).
You are in the market for a yacht and have taken a fancy to the ‘Isabella’ which is advertised at £225 000. The most you can raise is £212 000 from selling your own boat and borrowing from the bank. You meet the owner in the boathouse and casually tell him of your (strong) interest. You mention that you could only raise £212 000. He agrees to sell you the ‘Isabella’ for that sum. Is this:
Oh dear, you are an impetuous sheep aren't you?
Because he accepted your first offer it must cast doubts in your mind about the Isabella and/or what you might have got it for if you had opened lower. Makes you a fox caught out by another Fox wanting rid of his boat.
How do you know it is a bargain? Sign of a donkey.
A young talented actor wants to get into the ‘big time’ and she meets a television producer who is desirous of securing her services for an important part in a detective film. He tells her that she cannot get top rates until she is ‘known’ but if she does this one ‘cheap’ and gets famous, she will see ‘train loads of money’ coming her way for her future work. Should she:
Obviously a very determined and self confident young woman. But consider the risks that she blows it by trying to intimidate the producer. He might ‘offski’ and she might ‘neverski’. However, if she thinks she can keep him in play while she batters away for a higher price through (C) it could be a good move for a fox.
Terrible! He has played the ‘sell cheap/get famous’ ploy beloved by power players when dealing with sheep.
Has the tactical implications of (A) without its higher risks. She knows what she is worth. She can come down a little without losing out or relying on vague hopes and fantasies as in (B). If you sell yourself and your products cheap then you will get exactly what you demonstrate they are worth! All owls know this.
A customer, who buys simple forged metal components from you, tells you that they have decided to make them in-house when the current order is delivered. Do you:
Now that is an invitation, isn't it? You should feel sheepish because you may well have been tricked into a panic price cut. Another case of the ‘gotcha’!
Much better. Owls need information before they react to possible ploys. Comments, such as in (B), are more appropriate while discussing the reasons for taking the forging work in-house.
Sounds like a case of sour grapes, doesn't it? Not very fox like; more like a donkey's response.
Too sheepish for words to let the business go just like that – yet it could be long shot of a clever fox if you intend to call what you believe is their bluff. Honestly, which are you?
The aluminium company's marketing manager is back on the phone, saying that your most recent purchase order cannot be fulfilled because it looks as if there will be a strike at the plant and all the stocks of aluminium ingots are being diverted for the manufacture and delivery of products for long term priority customers. Over your protests she tells you that first priority customers pay a premium price per ton over what you pay, despite the recent price increase you agreed with her. Do you:
Not unless you must have that delivery. Unprotected sheep are always vulnerable to the ‘Gotcha.
Not unless you absolutely must have the delivery. Unprotected sheep are always vulnerable to the ‘Gotcha’ (and in your case it is a ‘Gotcha with oak leaved clusters and bar’!
What a waste of time but then donkeys have plenty of that.
You have been buying a component for your room divider systems, which you manufacture and install to order, from a large aluminium extruder for a number of years. Their new marketing manager rang you this morning with the news that they have decided to cease extruding your line because they cannot make a profit at current prices. Do you:
Sheepishly hasty, even if you need deliveries to complete current orders. You've fallen for the ‘Gotcha’ ploy!
Owls need information before they act, and how they respond will indicate how genuine is their problem. Meanwhile compare the details already collected because, to be frank, this is something an owl does on a regular basis.
If this information is not to hand you are a fox and not an owl, because though the fox knows what to do in a crisis, the owl anticipates crises and prepares for them before they have to negotiate.
Very clever of you to spot their ploy to raise prices by creating a delivery crisis but if you are that smart why are you so unprepared? A fox but certainly not an owl.
You have been working only three weeks in a new job as a shipping agent in Baltimore, USA, and had planned to get married on Friday 18 August (which you did not disclose at the job interview). Your ‘intended’ spouse expects a proper honeymoon vacation of at least a week in Bermuda. It's now 16 August and you ask your boss for leave for the wedding day and for the vacation. She is visibly not happy with your request and asks stiffly how long you were ‘thinking of being absent’. Do you reply:
No. An abject surrender which you will spend the rest of your married life sheepishly trying to justify to your partner.
Good. Start boldly and work down if you have to. Your boss will respect your courageous assertiveness eventually. A move for clever foxes.
Weak. She will squeeze a sheep like you to a weekend in Newark, New Jersey.
You are a package tour operator negotiating with a Spanish hotel chain on the terms for next season's holiday bookings. The price they are asking per person per week in their hotels is £45 higher than your current offer. They offer to ‘split the difference’ 50–50. Do you:
Better than (C) but you are a weak fox in too much of a hurry to compromise.
By far the negotiator's best owl-like move. Why should you split the difference, whether you can afford it or not? By making this offer they expose that their price is padded by at least £22.50 a person (and probably much more). Conceding to split the difference on £45 on 10 000 holiday weeks costs you about £225 000. Does this compromise look so equitable when grossed up?
Never. If you show negotiators that you practise ‘split the difference’ compromises they will give you bigger and bigger differences to split. As a donkey, you wouldn't know that.
Definitely better than (C) and more challenging for a fox than (A). A possible move for an owl much later, after you have tested the padding.
Do you see negotiating as being about:
Negotiation is always fair, but seldom equal, unless you are a sheep.
No. We negotiate to deliver our interests, not just to compromise. As a joint decision the agreement must be acceptable to you both and better than the available alternatives. If it isn't, there is no future in compromises. Your choice suggests that you have the resolve of a tired sheep.
Yes. It is your interests for which you are negotiating and their interests for which they are negotiating. Knowing this makes you at least a fox.
You are engaged in extremely difficult negotiations with a Lebanese government department. After much haggling over finance for a rural road project, they make a small unilateral concession on their demand for irrevocable letters of credit. Do you:
Yes. If they make a unilateral free gift concession no fox feels obliged to reciprocate in kind. Foxes trade, they don't concede.
Not unless you are a donkey.