Navigating negotiations

4 minute read

The words of Leonardo da Vinci ring true, 'Learning never exhausts the mind.' As a professional deeply immersed in the world of complex M&A deals, I live by this saying, always seeking opportunities for growth. Negotiation skills are at the heart of my work, and it is this constant pursuit of improvement that led me to the Oxford Programme on Negotiation.

After rigorous research and careful deliberation, Oxford won my vote. I was on the hunt for a programme that offered not just virtual interaction but on-site immersion, as there is something uniquely enriching about personal contact with tutors and peers – a level of connection that simply cannot be replicated online. The comprehensive curriculum offered by Saïd Business School, covering a wide range of relevant topics, delivered by leading industry experts and the esteemed faculty sealed the deal for me. It presented an opportunity to scrutinise my negotiation style, challenge my preconceived notions, and enhance my ability to communicate effectively and empathetically. I can say, without hesitation, that the programme exceeded my expectations on all counts.

Beyond the skills, the programme was an international melting pot, with a cohort comprising professionals from 21 different countries. Our discussions truly felt like condensed global summits. With each participant contributing unique insights, the conversations were always nuanced, tackling even the most intricate problems head-on. I found that such cultural and intellectual diversity was a catalyst, accelerating our learning and enriching our collective understanding. What pleasantly surprised me was how quickly we, as a cohort, bonded beyond the formal boundaries of the programme and became a close-knit crew. This connection led to spontaneous, self-organised gatherings outside the official schedule, such as a memorable rooftop pizza party at our hotel. It was moments like these that underscored the power of our newfound community and added another dimension to our Oxford experience.

Our friendship naturally transitioned into the programme’s immersive and action-packed schedule. A one-week course felt like a month's worth of experience and learning. The days were filled to the brim with thought-provoking lectures, rigorous simulations and enlightening discussions; each one providing a new stepping stone on our learning journey. Every evening, despite the day's intensity, the air was thick with anticipation for the next day's challenges. The atmosphere was electric, a testament to the rich learning environment that constantly kept us on our toes. Sure, the physical demands had us occasionally yearning for an extra hour of sleep, but channelling the inner da Vinci, I realised our bodies might have been tired, but our minds were thriving and always hungry for the next lesson.

Among the array of enriching activities, the negotiation simulations were particularly demanding, yet incredibly rewarding. Imagine transforming into several unique personas daily, each with different backgrounds and objectives. The process felt like a hands-on, real-world negotiation boot camp that tested and stretched our skills in countless ways.

But what truly amplified the learning experience was the personalised feedback provided by our tutors. These one-on-one tutor clinics were a game-changer, offering a fresh lens to examine our negotiation methods and helping us understand where we shined or where we could further polish our skills. Their tailored advice, derived from observing our simulations, was instrumental in further shaping our understanding and approach to negotiation. Such sessions also led to several 'lightbulb' moments of realisation. I used to steer clear from certain negotiation styles, deeming them flawed and ineffective. However, thanks to the tutors' insightful feedback, I have come to appreciate the unique potential of each style, depending on the situation. The simulations and the feedback from the tutors, indeed, were some of the most precious takeaways.

One of the most enriching elements of the programme was the privilege of learning from a number of high-profile professionals, each contributing their unique insights and experiences. Among them, hearing Baroness Cathy Ashton, the former high representative of the European Union, recount first-hand experiences from high-profile negotiations was especially inspiring and insightful. Such sessions were gold mines of wisdom that you simply will not find in any textbook.

In conclusion, if you are looking to refine your negotiation skills, the Oxford Programme on Negotiation is a journey worth taking. The lessons learned extend beyond negotiation tactics – they offer transformative life skills that will significantly impact your professional trajectory. I would encourage you take the leap, enrol in the programme, and witness first hand how it can reshape your world, one negotiation at a time.

Oxford Programme on Negotiation