Chapter 12 Guidance to answering the practical exercises

Negotiation and mediation

Q1. Watch the annual negotiation task on The Apprentice (see Further Reading) and reflect on the negotiating mistakes Karen Brady observes (for example, in 2019, regarding the candidates’ purchase of the quant, the mortar board and the book by Lewis Carroll (eg, ‘We need to purchase this hat, what are you going to charge us?’)). What is their BATNA? How do you think they could they have increased their chances of success in negotiating a better price for these items? What could they learn from the sellers of these items, in terms of negotiation strategy?

The candidates needed to purchase the mortar board, or they would face a financial penalty from Lord Sugar. Their BATNA was to take the financial penalty. This was not a credible BATNA and so they needed to do a deal to buy the mortar board. They did not have to reveal this fact to the seller immediately, however. When they chose to do that, they reduced their bargaining power, and the seller knows they do not need to compromise and can name their price for the mortar board. They could have acted more nonchalant, and left the seller to guess their BATNA, such as whether the buyer might walk away easily if the seller pitched the price too high and did not show willing to compromise. Instead, they did the seller’s work for them (in determining their BATNA as buyer). The seller knew they were unlikely to walk away.

Q2. The European Union made clear they would prefer the UK to stay, and not Brexit[1]. Prime Minister Boris Johnson made clear that his BATNA was a no-deal Brexit, saying ‘We are tabling constructive and reasonable proposals... the alternative is no deal’[2]. Parliament, however, voted against the possibility of no-deal.[3] Analyse this, not from a political perspective, but in terms of negotiation, the BATNA and its effect on the government’s ability to succeed with its mandate to negotiate with the European Union a Brexit deal for the UK. Then consider, what was the effect of the Conservative Party’s landslide victory in the General Election in December 2019 on the Prime Minister’s BATNA?

When Parliament took no-deal off the negotiating table, they removed the Prime Minister’s BATNA and so weakened his negotiating position with the EU. It removed any incentive for the EU to put a palatable deal on the table. They knew the Prime Minster could not walk away with no-deal, and they were now not inclined to do a deal about leaving either, because their aim was for him to agree to remain. This in turn would lead to continued uncertainty and negative implications all round, because the political mandate from the referendum was to leave. Conversely, after the election, the Prime Minister had won enough votes in Parliament to put no-deal back on the table. The Prime Minster had his BATNA again. This then weakened the EU’s negotiating position, because now if they did not seek to agree a deal the Prime Minster would agree to, the risk was that he would walk away without agreeing any deal with them. In other words, the Prime Minster became more like Taylor Swift and the EU, Apple…

Q3. If you have not done so already, consider Table 12.2. Identify which of the four styles you identify with most closely. Are there any of the styles which you feel do not come easily to you, and which you would like to practice, and why? Consider safe ways to practice these styles in your everyday life (for example, saying ‘no’).

You may identify with more than one style, however usually students can identify some key characteristics from column one (advantages) to identify with their dominant style. The corresponding disadvantages in column two can make for uncomfortable and also illuminating reading. Remember the instruction to enjoy using the table to see if you can identify your natural style. There is not a ‘right answer’. They all have both advantages and disadvantages. . Which style might succeed at any one time depends on a variety of factors such as the other party, the other party’s lawyer, and bargaining position. The key is to be knowledgeable, open and flexible enough to be able to switch into another style(s) if it becomes clear that your natural style is not progressing a particular negotiation.

Q4. Find out the details of this year’s negotiation and mediation competitions (see Further Reading) and consider applying, and enquire whether your institution offers accredited mediation training for students.

This was not intended to be a trick question, although the answer certainly seems more difficult to find as I write these answers online during the Covid-19 lockdown. There are a few learning points here, about:

  • not leaving everything to third year!)
  • being ahead of the game in terms of your interest in technology, so that you are ready if, for unforeseeable reasons, events are held online; and
  • appreciating, and seizing, the opportunities we have, when we have them…

I have set out details of the competitions in the Further Reading section of Chapter 12, with links to their webpages, so that you can access the most up to date information with relative ease...and I am encouraging you to participate.

Q5. Ask your friends to say three statements about themselves, and make three statements about yourself, on the basis that two must be true, and one false. Emotions show on your face. Evaluate your friends’ ‘tells’, and your own, when what is being said is untrue (for example, eye movement, tone and pace of voice), to hone your non-verbal negotiation and communication skills.

This can be a fascinating, revealing and valuable game to play. Look out for blinking, not blinking, avoiding eye contact, specific eye movements (perhaps up and to the right as you look at them), nose-touching, ear rubbing, blushing, changes in audibility, pace or tone. Remember then to calibrate the response to your friend (some may look up and to the left, for example, some to the right), so you can better read them in future…

[1] Boffey, D. (2019). Donald Tusk's message to UK voters: don't give up on stopping Brexit. The Guardian. Available at:

[2] BBC News. (2019). Johnson: No-deal only alternative to Brexit plan. Available at:

[3] Woodcock, A. (2019). Law to stop no-deal Brexit passed by Parliament. The Independent. Available at:

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