The Best Negotiation I Ever Lost–RIP Brady

Over seven years ago, I wrote about negotiations I have lost.  It’s a good reminder, as we head into the end of the semester, that even professors do not get it right all of the time.  As I noted:

In honor of my students turning in their final Negotiation journals today and in the spirit of my former dean who would post his first year law school grades just to remind us all that he was human, I wanted to share a recent negotiation failure.  (Just because we teach it, doesn’t mean we get everything we want all the time.)

I generally try to remind students that (a) we don’t always realize that we should negotiate until it’s too late and that (b) sometimes we are going to lose anyway.  On the first point, I share with students the fact that I didn’t even negotiate my offer when I came here (although my current dean might argue that I have more than overcome that particular weakness!)

On the second, and more amusing note, below is the picture of the negotiation I just lost with my kids:


Thanks much to former student Dr Marty Greer who helped me find the perfect puppy once I had lost the negotiation!

We lost Brady to a coyote last week.  In his honor, I am reposting this as a reminder to me (and all of us) that sometimes the negotiations we lose have the most unexpected consequences.  And here’s a more updated picture of him–still as cute as ever.  So glad that I lost that one years ago….


One thought on “The Best Negotiation I Ever Lost–RIP Brady”

  1. When this story was mentioned in class it immediately reminded me of a similar occurrence between my mother and I that happened about 2 ½ years ago. I found a kitten on the side of the road and decided that I wanted to keep her. I was incredibly fearful for the conversation that I was going to have to have with my mother about the kitten because my family has always been considered “dog people.” Growing up I remember my mom always saying that she hates cats and that she never wanted to get one. Before I even called my mother I knew that there was going to be a conflict. Looking back on the situation now, before the conversation with my mom I was worried that it would turn a long-standing or “embedded” conflict because it was a conflict about our differences in preferences or interests. My mom and I had incompatible desires or wants pertaining to this particular subject. When I was younger, it was easier to simply be a “dog person” because I went along with my family’s ideals. However, since I was 21 and wanted to develop my own preferences, it hard for me to hear from my mom at 21 years old that I could not keep an animal I wanted simply because it was not approved by her.

    The first response I received from my mom was that I absolutely could not keep the cat and there was no changing her mind. The beginning of this conversation could definitely be described as a distributive model of negotiation. My mom and I were both competitive, making demands and arguing. I quickly realized that in order to get what I wanted, I could not have a simple win/lose situation with my mom. Although I decided that I needed to be less competitive, I also did not want to become completely accommodating. I was not willing to give in to my mom’s response. Instead, I decided that the best way to confront our difference in perception and interests was to use an integrative, problem-solving technique. I began to ask my mom questions about why she was in opposition, I listened and explored her needs and interests. After hearing what she had to say I came up with some ideas that I thought would help solve the problem. Since I live in the basement of my house and there is a door between the two levels of our house, I asked her if the cat could just stay in my area of the house while I am home on break. After a couple of days of consideration, my mom decided that she was okay with the idea.

    Although I had not taken any classes relating to negotiation during this time in my life, reflecting on it now it is interesting to look back on this conflict and reflect on how it fits into the models that we have learned and explored in class.

    Just as an update, the cat (whose name is Milli) moved home with me and only stayed completely in the basement for about a week. My mom ended up loving her and quickly moved away from our original agreement, only allowing her into the basement to giving Milli free range of the house. I think that my mom would now agree 2 ½ years later that this negotiation is the best one she ever lost as well.

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