- How did he get interested in negotiation and what made him want to dedicate a career to the study/discussion/teaching of negotiation?
He worked for 3 years in consulting and was fascinated by the interactions amongst workers implementing project ideas. The “people dynamics” that he observed sparked interest into negotiation as a topic to be studied and taught. After earning a PhD at Northwestern he came to Johns Hopkins University to teach. He currently blogs at https://briangunia.com/my-blog-lifes-negotiable/
- What should people who are not business school students (i.e. those of us in the humanities) do to become better negotiators?
People should realize that negotiations are all around us. Negotiation is not a special skill to be relegated to attorneys. Rather it involves focusing less on demands/offers and more on what motivates other people. Negotiation works best when parties strive towards a creative solution instead of an aggressive confrontation.
- Has he read any books lately that give additional insight into negotiation? Does he have a favorite book on negotiation?
Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, and Bruce Patton is used in his classes. 3-d Negotiation: Powerful Tools to Change the Game in Your Most Important Deals by David A. Lax and James K. Sebenius is also another book he uses. The Big Short by Michael Lewis comes recommended and highlights some interesting negotiation dynamics between the investors and Wall St. Banks. He is currently writing his own book and has completed the first three chapters. The Bartering Mindset, tentativley set to come out at the end of 2017, focuses on how a cash based economy has caused our society to lose touch with critical negotiation skills learned in the bartering economy.
- What negotiator is he following in the news? If so, what can we learn from them?
Donald Trump is who he’s following. Trump does a good job being a competitive and aggressive negotiator. However, the other side of negotiation is to be cooperative, integrative, and creative. Those are skills that Trump does not display publicly.
- His favorite three blog posts that he’s written?
Work-life balance as a negotiation with yourself. Friday Night Fights: Choosing Negotiation Instead of Persuasion. These posts deal with really common situations that we don’t usually think of as negotiations. But when we do, they become much more manageable. What I Learned About Negotiation from Keith Murnighan (1948-2016) Mentorships are key to success in academia and Murnighan had a big impact on his mentees. The blog post articulates the top five things Gunia learned about negotiation from the way Murnighan lived his life.
- Is part of our society’s problem with negotiation that we like to rush things? How does a U.S. negotiator differ in their sense of time compared to a non-U.S. negotiator?
There is little evidence that American negotiators perform substantially better or worse than negotiators from other nationalities. That being said, there is a power in using silence and waiting and these are often underestimated. In addition, listening is a key skill to cultivate. There is value in spending less time talking and more time listening. In East-Asian and Latin American cultures there is an interest in learning about each other and building a long term relationship. This is unlike the U.S. where one is more prone to get directly down to business.
- How do we know we have reached a successful conclusion to a negotiation? Should we expect a clear conscience or some type of inner peace at the end of a good negotiation?
One of the features of the real-world negotiation process is that we never know how well we do. The metrics for tracking success are: 1) is the problem solved, 2) is the end result better than the alternative, and 3) do you end up getting close to your initial goal.
- What is the best way to interact with the other party we are negotiating with?
Negotiators are left to their own devices—few rules or regulations apply. If one is to be aggressive and competitive, than they should use those skills to combat the problem not the other person. No strategy is risk free, but there is value to being a problem solver and to sharing information with the other party, in hopes that they do so in return. Negotiators should be asking questions in an effort to contribute to an open exchange of information. Hopefully, the negotiator that leads by example and shares information will see their counterpart also share information.
- What is it like to write for a variety of well known publications, such as the Harvard Business Review?
The process writing for the Harvard Business Review is different than that of pure academic journals. The writer sends a proposal and then the Harvard Business Review provides feedback to the writer about whether the proposal is accepted and how to best present their article to move to the next step in the publishing process. With pure academic journals the process is very different. The writer generally submits their entire paper to the journal and then awaits a decision for a rejection or a revision requested by the editor. If a revision is needed, then another version of the entire paper must be submitted.
- What would be the one tip that is crucial to negotiating well?
Negotiations are all around us. We all can be good negotiators, as good negotiators are not naturally born. Negotiation is not a battle. The creative negotiator will usually outperform the aggressive negotiator as the creative negotiator will find a solution that is beneficial to both sides.