Negotiation and conflict resolution was the subject of the last seminar that I attended in Paris. I found it to be very useful, as conflict management plays a vital role in our business and personal lives. Conflict always arises as everyone has different interests, and most of the time nobody wants to compromise. This often leads to negativity and disagreement between individuals, and ends up with fights, unresolved issues, and conclusions that are never reached.
During the seminar, the professor provided us with two case studies. The first case study was an actual business case between an American company that was willing to find an agent for selling its products in Indonesia, and the Indonesian company that offered its services. We were split into two groups, with one group playing the role of the mother company, and the other group representing the Indonesian company. Within each group, we were supposed to divide ourselves into roles including main speaker, assistant, observer and summarizer. Our objective was to reach an agreement for the conditions of the final contract. Of course, it wasn't easy as each group was provided with objectives that were in conflict with the objectives of the other group. The lesson learned was how to manage our conflict and reach win-win business solutions, by cooperating and managing concessions.
The second case study was about a company that was facing financial troubles and its managers were indifferent about where exactly the costs should be reduced. We were split into three different groups representing different departments in the company including Production, Finance and Marketing. One student was chosen to play the role of the company's CEO. Each department was provided with business objectives and the available resources to achieve them. At the end, each department representative had to prepare a plan about how they intend to reach their business goals.
We all sat together with our CEO and provided our solutions to maximize profit while reducing costs. Of course, conflicts arose from different objectives that each department had. The main lesson was to teach us how to manage our business conflicts and reduce them, and then cooperate together to reach the overall business objective of the company.
After the end of the first case study, we were provided with an action plan sheet where we marked out our strong skills and the skills that need developing This action plan was very useful as it helped us to identify our negotiation styles, the pros and cons of each style, and and understanding of which style can be more useful for the business, and which style can be destructive for any business relation. However, in order to be more specific in identifying our negotiation style, the professor provided us with a sheet that contained different actions in case of disagreement with another party. For each action, we rated our response with numbers. At the end, we summed up all the scores for each style and benchmarked them against the average score for each negotiation style. In doing so, we were given the chance to evaluate our styles and get a clear idea of whether they are above or below the average.
After the end of the second case study, we were taught how to manage our conflicts in order to avoid stress and tensions between employees. We also learned to avoid the blame game as it is always destructive for the business and will lead to block roads at the end. We learned that problems must be addressed at the right time to prevent conflict and its adverse effects at a later stage. Conflict management helps create a better business environment by eliminating conflicts and stress, which will lead to increased motivation and production.
Personally, I can say that the seminar was useful on both the business and personal level, as during our daily life we always need to negotiate and manage our conflict with any one who has different interests. In this way, this seminar acted as a very useful guide for us.