Recently, I had the privilege of participating in the Harvard Leadership and Negotiation program. The program, which has been in existence for over 40 years, is renowned for its comprehensive and practical approach to negotiation. The program is led by a team of esteemed faculty members, including Dan Shapiro, Debbie Goldstein and Professor Rob Williams, who bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the table.
One of the highlights of the program was learning about the framework and approaches to negotiation that have been developed through years of research. One key takeaway was the importance of recognising that the person or group one is negotiating with is not inherently against you, but rather a collaborator in the negotiation process. This principle, known as “Your counterpart is not the enemy,” emphasises the need to shift our attitudes towards negotiation, treating it as a creative brainstorming pursuit using emotional intelligence.
An example of this principle in action can be seen in the story of Nelson Mandela, who, while being mistreated in prison, reminded a guard that despite their physical dominance, they would eventually need to sit down and negotiate, even if it was to discuss the terms of the ANC surrender. The way in which Mandela and his fellow prisoners were treated would be remembered and would surely have an effect on the outcome of that negotiation.
Throughout the program, we also had the opportunity to learn from and engage with other esteemed faculty members such as Dan Shapiro, who is named as one of the top 15 professors at Harvard University and is the founder and director of the Harvard International Negotiation Program. Additionally, we were exposed to the work of Debbie Goldstein and Professor Rob Williams, both of whom are renowned experts in the field of negotiation.
Overall, the Harvard Leadership and Negotiation program provided me with valuable insights and tools that I will carry with me throughout my career. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from such esteemed faculty members and am excited to continue exploring the world of negotiation in the months to come.