Help Me Feel More Confident About This Super Long Presentation on Confidence (sorta)
September 13, 2012 1:25 PM   Subscribe

A presentation on assertive negotiation and learning confidence: my time slot is twice as long as I expected! Can you help me brainstorm a group activity to break up the time while illustrating the concepts? Do you have any resources to share?

My audience will be librarians at a library conference. Librarians are not seen as the most confident of negotiators, especially when dealing with vendor sales reps, who can be slick and hard and tough. My presentation is on becoming more assertive in negotiations over licenses and pricing for library resources.
I submitted a proposal, thinking that it would be 45 minutes to an hour, tops, and I feel that I have that amount of material. But I was accepted for a 90 minute time slot, and that means two things: A) I don't have enough solid background on this topic to talk for 90 minutes about it, and B) the audience is going to need a break in the middle.

A) If you have any suggestions of good resources on building assertiveness or confident negotiation, please share! I have read Getting to Yes and some articles on the subject. Obviously, I am responsible for my own research, but if you have a good source, please let me know!

B) I'd like to set up a group activity to eat up about 15 minutes of time. This would allow people to get up, move around, meet some people, and duck out of the room if necessary, as well as breaking up my long talk. But I'd like them to stay on topic. Even better if the activity was particularly useful or illustrative.
I'd like to stay away from cheesy games or hackneyed business/self-help trends. I specifically do not want to role-play price haggling, which is a standard example of negotiation. I think that is far too simplistic for this.

The catch for the group activity is that I don't know how many people will attend. There is no pre-registration or way to find out an estimate. I'm one of 9 different options in that timeslot. The conference attendance will total about 500. I'm scheduled for a room that can seat from 70-150 (depending on chair arrangement), and it will likely be an audience of between 5 and 50. Those are very different numbers when it comes to group activities, though!

Do you have any good resources on building assertiveness or negotiation to offer?
Can you help me brainstorm a group activity?
posted by aabbbiee to Work & Money (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The two books for my college class on "Negotiation and Conflict Management" were "Getting to yes" and "The mind and heart of the negotiator". The second book is much meatier. Perhaps you could pull out an excerpt?
posted by Michele in California at 1:36 PM on September 13, 2012

A great book about negotiating is called Women Don't Ask I'm on my phone and don't remember who wrote it, but it's obviously not just about negotiating, it's about how that task is a deeply (deeply!) gendered one, and explores the reasons behind why women don't ask (also what happens when they do ask!), the consequences of not asking, and how men and women can all change that.

I'd be willing to bet that (many) librarians are pretty aware of gender issues, but may not have seen or notoced firsthand how negotiating is fundamentally different for men than for women.

(the key points: men are trained to ask for and expect more, women are trained to settle for less, to take whatever is offered, and to give more when asked even if it's absurd. Men who ask for more are almost universally respected, women who ask for more are often (but not 100% ofthetime) shut down, often with offers being rescinded or the women being viewed as pushy or bitchy. This training begins in very early childhood, and includes the ways households navigate chores and even feeding rituals.)

Belfre discussing this work, have people break into pairs and discuss 'a
Time you negotiated successfully, and a time your negotiation broke down'
, after some sharing back to the group, ask the pairs if they though gender had anything to do with the outcome. Them reveal that it sometimes does, and contine on to some good PowerPoint slides.
posted by bilabial at 1:52 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't know the specifics about the library industry. But sales is generally a job function built at least somewhat on commissions. If you have or can find any data on the sales targets and commission structures of library sales reps, maybe you can identify and teach ways of negotiating that they aren't aware of. Such as promising repeat business with the same rep (guaranteed future commissions) in exchange for lower license fees, expanded licenses, lower book costs, etc.
posted by trivia genius at 2:32 PM on September 13, 2012

It's done wonders for my negotiating skills to understand that while I might be talking with a person, I'm reaching an agreement with the business they represent. It's easy to perceive negotiation as an awkward form of flattery, sleazy conversations, and coffee-based bribery, that's all focused on the human being in the room, when the goal is to reach an agreement between one person (or library) and one vendor. The parts of the process that are most uncomfortable to an introvert are actually some of the least relevant.

That said, I know nothing about the real professionally-researched side of negotiation.

ideas for small-group activities:
Classify statements from a list of things people say, or a transcript of a negotiation, according to some metric (relevant/irrelevant, true/misleading, type of logical argument, some dichotomy from your resources)
Go over a transcript of a negotiation and talk about what person A/B is doing right/wrong.
Exercises about body language: indicating interest (is he listening to your counterargument or has he already decided) or honesty/misdirection.
posted by aimedwander at 2:41 PM on September 13, 2012

I don't have much to contribute on the assertiveness topic, but as for your request for interaction ideas, here is a list of 36 Interactive Lecture ideas from Thiagi (a well-known training expert who advocates for classroom activity and against too much lecture).

You might even "flip" your thinking around, and have the interactions of your students/audience become the primary way that they gain knowledge and understanding of the topic. Don't undersestimate how much they can learn from each other.

Keep your activities on the simple side. For example, you could split the audience into teams of 5 and give them 3 minutes to brainstorm answers to a certain question. One person from each team captures their answers on a flipchart. Then as a class, you give each team a few minutes to go over their flipchart results, and you compare & contrast. This activity would be valuable, educational, and you (as the facilitator) have not had to contribute any content whatsoever during the 1/2 hour or so that it would last.

Oh, also, adult learners these days generally hate it when they're told there will be "role playing," because as you say, it's a cliche and carries a lot of mental baggage. BUT, you might settle on an activity that basically uses it. Just don't use the term when explaining it. : )
posted by see_change at 2:44 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I did a not-totally-related thing in a library group exercise once. You were paired with another person and they would start with some statement about libraries and your job was to reply with "Yes and..." and you'd have a conversation that way. Then it was reversed (other person started) and your reply had to start with "Yes but..." and the conversation went. Both cases it was a quick two minute thing but it was showing the different paths a discussion would take depending on words you might not even be aware that you were using [and = more agreement "let's work on an agreement", but = "I have an issue/problem; we are not on the same team"]

Not totally what you were looking for but I am one of those people who is skeptical abotu the value of some of this stuff and it was instructive for me.
posted by jessamyn at 3:09 PM on September 13, 2012

Could you bring in a guest speaker for part of that who is a vendor? I work as a library vendor and I do the contract negotiations, though I'm not in sales (you might also talk about different approaches in sales vs. other people they might negotiate with) and depending on who you get a vendor might be willing to talk about some ways of negotiating more successfully. For example, we often have a lot of leeway we can make on things that aren't price - extended trials, additional marketing assistance, customizations, fudging the seat license numbers - that almost no one ever thinks to ask for because they focus so much on price. So while there may be reasons for that from the library side, a strong negotiator is also going to understand my position and motivations and try to work with me.
posted by marylynn at 3:59 PM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Just to clarify, I have a lot of experience in this field and lots of knowledge about both librarians and vendors. I just facilitated a panel discussion earlier this summer on vendor/librarian relations where we talked about some of the specifics that some of you have mentioned. I know I have plenty of my own explanations/anecdotes/examples to fill 45 minutes, but 90 minutes means I need some objective research on the general topics, as I mentioned above. Maybe I will do a bibliography, in fact. Hmm.

Thank you to everyone so far- many great answers for both sources and group activities! I have seen lots of things here that will be very useful in planning.

Keep the ideas coming, if you have them! It's helpful!
posted by aabbbiee at 7:04 AM on September 14, 2012

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