Associate Professor and Deputy Director of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at UCL School of Management, Dr Sunny Lee, recently featured in an episode of the BBC Inside Science podcast to discuss the importance of strong negotiation skills in today’s world, as well as the psychology of negotiation and the qualities that make for the perfect negotiator.
An expert in negotiation, Sunny has extensive experience in teaching both conflict resolution and negotiating skills, having supported an array of Executive Education and MBA programmes, as well as previously working with the London Metropolitan Police to enhance their understanding of the psychology behind peaceful conflict resolution and negotiation.
In the BBC Inside Science episode, Sunny developed a role-playing exercise to test presenter Victoria Gill’s skillset involving a neighbourly dispute over a shared chestnut tree. When suggesting that the neighbours sit down for a chat over a cup of tea, Sunny applauds the tactic, citing extensive research indicating that small talk, such as the weather and tea, is highly effective in building rapport, which is a key part of peaceful and fruitful negotiations.
Sunny also notes that many conversations intended to resolve conflict can actually begin with argumentative and hostile tones. For Sunny, people tend to rely on any of the following 3 dimensions to support their negotiations:
- Power - the use of position, charisma or resources in an attempt to force the counterparty into a position that favours the negotiator.
- Rights - the notion of who has the right to enact certain behaviours. This may also include the notion of fair versus unfair, etc.
- Interest - what is each party motivated by in this particular situation? Interest in fundamental motives should be discovered in a calm conversation that includes many ‘why’ questions that will help both parties to understand one another. For Sunny, this is fundamental for peaceful and fruitful negotiations and/or conflict resolution, as it can provide the basis to produce a better, smoother solution.
Hear more of Sunny Lee’s thoughts on negotiation strategies via the BBC Inside Science Podcast.