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Hi folks! Thanks for joining us for another episode of the NEGOTIATEx podcast. Today, we are honored to host Max Bevilacqua. Max is the Chief Negotiating Officer of Max Negotiating, a negotiation advisory and training company supporting cyber, humanitarian, and environmental negotiations.
Additionally, Max has advised and trained Fortune 100 executives, business development teams, and US Special Forces as a Senior Trainer at Vantage Partners. He also teaches negotiations at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.
Max holds a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where he studied international negotiation and conflict resolution, and received his bachelor’s from Wesleyan University in Religious Studies.
With all that said, let’s jump into the conversation with Max.
According to Max, negotiators are often forged in the family. While talking about his personal journey, he recalls growing up in a household that required an implicit understanding of messages, silences, and body language. To truly understand one’s negotiation persona, Max believes that they need to look at the most painful work within their family.
The motive behind this assignment is to make them comfortable with asking for more and hearing no, which could be demotivating or scary for rejection-sensitive people. According to Max, it is an ideal way to help his students be comfortable with rejection and make them realize it’s actually harder to get a NO than they might realize.
He attributes the inception of his own journey in negotiations to his brother, who was his first colleague, and his parents, who were his first employers. Max struggled with understanding the interpersonal and systemic dynamics within his own family and reflected on his self-perceived shortcomings. While he knows that it is a work in progress, he’s come to the conclusion that maladaptive behaviors are engaged in, to preserve the interests of the larger family organism.
In university, Max was romantically involved with an individual who threatened to take her own life. Thankfully she survived, but the experience showed him how unprepared he was to conduct a negotiation of that stature. Human beings normatively do what they desire, therefore negotiations are anthropological phenomena that determine the wills and emotional flexibility of the people involved.
With experience, Max has learned that negotiators have to be self-aware and tune themselves to the problems at hand. Most people have a destructive approach to negotiations that is painful to watch. The wasted potential of interpersonal as well as professional relationships is what bothers him and simultaneously motivates him to do what he does.
Continuing along this vein, Max finds that NGOs and other humanitarian organizations must become managers of digital supply chains. With the rise in cybercrime and theft of personal/financial data, there is a greater need for these organizations to engage in digital supply chain management; a task many of them are innately untrained for.
As the medium of businesses and institutions have moved online, firms of the future require an interdisciplinary education on mediation and conflict management from organizations like NEGOTIATEx and Max Negotiating. So even though Max aspires to move into the complicated waters of humanitarian negotiations, he is reassured that his work today is having a meaningful impact on both public and private spheres.
When asked to describe the negotiation opportunities in the cybersphere, Max is of the opinion that most cyber negotiations are generally perceived as transactions that involve ransom for misappropriated data. But he feels that it is a very narrow-minded way of looking at the negotiations in cyberspace because by then, the threat actor had already taken the data.
You’ve already lost your data or money when you negotiate with someone who is asking for ransom. That’s why Max feels that we need cooperation and data sharing from the government to tackle these issues. After all, it can be really problematic for business owners if the government fails to provide recourse or protection in such scenarios.
While taking negotiation classes at BU, Max often gives his students an interesting assignment to expose them to negotiations. He asks them to collect eight nos on behalf of something they are asking for, and three on behalf of someone else.
The motive behind this assignment is to make them comfortable with asking for more and hearing no, which could be demotivating or scary for rejection-sensitive people. According to Max, it is an ideal way to help his students be comfortable with rejection and make them realize it’s actually harder to get a NO than they might realize.
Lastly, Max suggests that negotiation is primarily about the process, not what you say. To negotiate effectively, you need to prepare well. Keep in mind that it is not about what you’re saying but how you are saying it and how you are structuring it.
Max, Aram, and Nolan discuss a lot more on this episode of the NEGOTIATEx Podcast. Write to us at email@example.com and share your thoughts on this very informational podcast episode.
Thank you for listening.
Nolan Martin : Hello and welcome to the NEGOTIATEx podcast. I'm your host and co-founder Nolan Martin. With me today is my good friend, co-host, co-founder, Aram Donigian. Aram, want to introduce our guest today?
Aram Donigian : Yeah, I will, Nolan and it's great cuz now I'm gonna be the old man on the show as we have you and our guest, two youngsters as we like to say, but certainly two professionals in this field. So, our guest today is Max Bevilacqua. And I really hope I said that right, Max. I know you are so gracious, just like I am with my name.
Max is the Chief Negotiating Officer of Max Negotiating, a negotiation advisory and training company supporting cyber, humanitarian and environmental negotiations. Prior to Max Negotiating, Max advised and trained Fortune 100 executives, business development teams and US Special Forces as a Senior Trainer at Vantage Partners. And that's where Max and I first met.
Max has joined the teaching team of Harvard Law School’s Winter Negotiation Workshop, the program on negotiation, spring mediation and Conflict Resolution seminar, Harvard Negotiation Institute's Summer Workshop and PON’s Executive Education Masterclass.
AD : He also teaches negotiations at Boston University's Questrom School of Business. Max served as the executive director of In Good Faith, an international nonprofit, was translated Eli Weisel's, Knight into Bahasa Indonesia, and led interfaith programming amongst universities in the US and Indonesia. He received a Fulbright scholarship to Central Java and certainly sits on the board of Planet Indonesia. Max holds a master's degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where he studied international negotiation and conflict resolution and received his bachelor's from Wesleyan University in Religious Studies. Max, thanks for joining us today.
Max Bevilacqua : Wow. This is a lot to live up to. Thank you so much for that generous, honorary introduction. I appreciate it. It's great to be here.
NM : All right, Max, so to kick things off, I always like to talk about the journey of how you got to the spot, how you become a professional negotiator and so what was it like for you along the way and what were some key milestones?
MD : Sure. I'll just hop right into it. I think negotiators are forged in the family. Forged in the family crucible. So I have an Italian self-proclaimed blue collar father and an Ashkenazi Jewish mother from New York. And I grew up in a household that required understanding implicit messages, silences, body languages, and hyper awareness.
So I think to be blunt, it comes from the family and I think, I think that needs to be talked about. Like, there's a saying that I really like that there are no individuals, only fragments of families. So, I think to understand yourself as a negotiator, you have to be looking at your family and your deepest and most richest and most painful work is within your family. So, I would say my journey has everything to do with my first colleague, my brother, and my first employers, my parents.
AD : Yeah. Isn't that, that's powerful. And I know we'll get to one of our final questions we often ask is around how these things show up in our, our personal lives. That's, that's a really powerful piece and for all of us to think about, how our skills, or even the skills I guess of, you know, for me as a parent, our kids are starting to show up. You know, Max to thati, did you, as a child growing up in this kind of dynamic household, were there skills you were learning then, or did you piece that together later on, like in, in the way?
MB : Great question. I mean, I think I, well, so we're always learning, so I won't call it a failure, but I think I struggled to name phenomena and dynamics and moves in my family and I would kind of deal with the emotional fallout of it but not be able to put words to it.
So, it took me decades to put words to what was happening and to understand the dynamic both interpersonally and at a systems level. Cuz the other idea of the family is that, you know, we talk about interest based negotiation and the presumption in like a very legal oriented, hyper western world is everyone has individual interests, which is true, but you also have group interests relative to your family. People engage in maladaptive behaviors for the preservation of the larger organism or the group. And otherwise that doesn't make sense from an individual interest perspective. So, I think I reflected on what I perceive to be my shortcomings and lack of effectiveness within my family, and I've been piecing it together ever since. And, you know, still working on it.
AD : Yeah. Like all of us, it is, it is a journey where we're, we're progressing, you know? So, you're in the field pretty deeply. One of the reasons I was excited to have you on the program is to just know your passion for the topic and the passion for helping others. Can you talk to us a little bit about kind of really, I guess broad or long-term goals that, you know, what are you hoping to accomplish? What drives you in the work that you're currently doing? Know, we're gonna get into it a little in a little more detail, but what's your drive here?
MB : Well, I don't know what gave you the impression that I care about other people. I'm really in this for myself,
AD : Not at all true. Don't even plant that.
MB : No, but I will say that I think people are bashful, at least in my experience, and we'll talk about our students being bashful about saying what they want. And I'm not gonna pretend that I don't want to be able to have conversations like this to talk to impressive gentlemen and women and others like yourselves, and that I don't want to have a nice log cabin on a lake with a dog in a yard. I'd like that.
The reason that I'm motivated to go through the slog and grind of kind of going out on your own has everything to do with what negotiation did for me. And we can go as deeper or shallow as you like. But another part of my personal journey was I started school at Georgetown and I was dating someone who threatened to kill themselves. And I did not know how to handle that.
MB : And even though thank God this person did not, the fallout of that negotiation was something I was deeply unprepared for in terms of “what did I agree to”, right? So, I see negotiations as anthropological phenomena, which is a fancy way of saying the thing that humans do when they're pursuing what they want.
And if someone says that they don't want something, you know, referencing what I was mentioning earlier, they're full of [inaudible] of course, you want something you'd prefer to survive, you'd prefer not to have someone's foot on your neck. You'd prefer a lot of these things. And that can be metaphorical and psychological as well. But I think the illusion that we ought to be embarrassed about what we want is part of this. You're gonna have to go too deep down the rabbit hole, but I think like evangelical Christian sense of sin around desire.
MB : So, sorry that was throwing a bunch at you there, but I see negotiations happening all the time and I think the thing that bothers me and motivates me, aside from the fact that I know how much mentally and emotionally better off I am and what that could do for other people- coz ultimately the musician plays the ins plays a musical instrument than the negotiator plays themselves.
So, you're needing to look at yourself and tune yourself. And so it's, you know, very self-involved in that sense. But also when I look at the way people negotiate and how destructive it's painful, right? We talk about pareto optimality and wasted value, watching people not even reach that kind of fixed line midpoint. It's painful to watch and you can appreciate how hard it is when you are the person in that.
And so I'm not saying or presuming that any of us can really always do that much better in that seat, but like, damn, involve a third party so you can like, get some executive like functioning in there so that we don't waste so damn much.
AD : Right, I mean, that resonates, I would assume Nolan, that resonates with part of our entire drive for starting NEGOTIATEx is just to, you know, to see others do better. And it is really based on the recognition of the impact this work has had in our own lives and, and in teachers and influencers who have shaped our thinking, right? And that there's absolutely nothing wrong with having desires in dreams that we are pursuing. Where we get in our way is our process for asking for those things or creating the environment where those things are possible.
NM : Absolutely. And so kind of wanted to shift gears here and talk about Max Negotiating and specifically the work you do around cyber humanitarian and environmental. Where do negotiations kind of fit into these industries and what kind of advice do you help companies work through?
MB : Sure. We're seeing that humanitarian organizations are now needing to become managers of digital supply chains. So, this kind of relates to cyber work a little bit. You know, the CRC hack brought that up. So if, you know, you have these international organizations that are collecting sensitive data, especially biometric data and you know, that's online. You now find that along with tech partners and and host governments that I-NGOs are engaging in a set of activities that they may not be innately trained to do in some way, or it's not their native capacity to manage a digital supply chain. And that's becoming relevant.
So, there's this whole piece that, you know, I'm very inspired by and if it's unclear Roger Fisher and The Dynasty and you know, I followed Bruce Patton to Vantage and there's some great humanitarian negotiating humanitarian access work, I think Mark Gordon, the Mercy Corps, and I think Joe Bubman was working on that as well.
MB : That's the kind of stuff that I'm aspirationally looking to do. And then I think you have this idea, whereas we think about negotiation as, what do you say at the table as, okay, let's take a step back. We're not at a table, we're at a whiteboard and we're looking at the stakeholder map of who influences who and how to do this and ways to make the status quo less tenable for people that are benefiting from it, et cetera, et cetera.
So, I think with regards to humanitarian work, it's still a work in progress. And right now it's been mostly related to misinformation, disinformation as well as data security, which, you know, I don't identify as naturally as a tech person. I mean, like, yeah, I played StarCraft and like Magic the Gathering , so I'm not pretending like I was captaining the football team here, but yeah, we're, we're in a new playing field and frankly, one of the reasons for going out on my own has a lot to do with keeping up, you know, I'm not particularly shy about saying that for all the good that lawyers have done to the material in terms of making it marketable to corporations and even instituting it in, in large scale peace negotiations, Ecuador, Peru, Israel, Egypt, et cetera, et cetera, it's not the most efficient organization in terms of propagating negotiation material from my perspective.
MB : And so for me, a big piece of that is, you know, if I want something fixed on my computer, I'm not like, okay, who's my best lawyer friend here, right? That's not who I'm calling. So I think that there's this tension, at least that I feel between honoring the past and the legacy of Fisher and moving forward, which I think can be difficult.
And look, I understand running a business requires people in it that are risk averse, but when you have cyber crime and the battlefield has moved, we have to move with it. So there's a piece of that there. And speaking of military, or at least I was thinking of it, my environmental negotiations also include the military. So there, there's an amazing organization called Earth Justice that I'd encourage people to check out. Tagline: The Earth Needs A Good Lawyer.
And so they're negotiating on behalf of a lot of environmental stuff. And so I enjoy supporting however I can. And sometimes those negotiations are with US government. And other governments as well. So, you know, I think the playing field has not only expanded to a digital space, but it's inherently interdisciplinary. It's public, it's private, it's all of these things, whether we like it or not.
And so, again, my thought is that the firms of the future or the organizations of the future, Max Negotiating, NEGOTIATEx, et cetera, are necessary and needed. And Iike from at least what I can tell, and I'm so grateful to be invited on your show, but from what I can tell in terms of this next generation, Aram, which you're a part of, still this next generation,
MB : But you are, cuz you're here and we're talking about it, there seems to be an evolution of the norms here, which is not like, this is my IP, right? Let's build on this. If we actually care what we're, what we're doing, if we actually care about what we say, we care about it. And if the idea is to have a network effect where the more people who understand this strategy, the better. Why are we sitting on it, right? Is it only for people that can afford to go to grad school or who served? Right now, everyone's negotiating in an impactful way and they could be the person negotiating with you. And a lot of times you might wish that the person you're negotiating with had taken a course with one of you gentlemen.
AD : Yeah. Isn't it interesting? It's nice to negotiate with someone who's well trained and even, you know, well prepared. It helps shift the negotiation a little bit.
MB : Imagine that!
AD : Can you say a little bit more about the kind of cyber negotiations and the, and the work you do there? I think you talked a little humanitarian a little about the environment, just for our listeners who are, they've probably heard about a hack they've heard about just, you know, paying the bribe to get reaccess.
Where's the negotiation opportunities that you're seeing?
MB : Such a good question. The short answer is there is a classically understood negotiation that mirrors ransom. When someone has something that you need and they're making a demand and you're trying to pay less. So, it's a damage mitigating situation and that's where Max Negotiating is very lucky to be partnered with Group Sense, which is run by Curtis Minder, who is someone who's featured the New Yorker.
And I read an article about him negotiating with threat actors and I literally just emailed him. I was like, this is so cool. I have no experience here, but I theoretically have some understanding. I'd love to get involved. And we've been working together for the past few years. You know, that means that I'm reading transcripts and kind of, I wouldn't say quarterbacking, but like one of the people in the huddle in terms of what, what do we do next?
You know, what is our time to look like, et cetera, et cetera. But from my perspective, this is a very narrow-minded way of looking at the negotiations in the space. Cuz at the point in which the threat actor has already taken your data, we're just, you know, you're on the ground covering your head, trying not to die and you're trying to survive, you've already lost.
So, from my perspective, the more interesting stuff that I've been starting to work on is looking at the larger scope of things. And I'm not saying that like I don't know what the intergovernmental negotiations are like in terms of getting extradition treaties, but that's the level of things we need. The level of things we need to be talking about. You know, I have a ton of respect for the FBI and again, per, you know, kind of legal and tech and, and the personalized that go into government versus private sector, they're not gonna help you get your stuff back on their own.
MB : Right? Like, we need cooperation and data sharing. And I think you gentlemen probably know a lot more about this than I, but yeah, broadly speaking, we're being inefficient and I do think it's problematic for your business owner that your government can't give you recourse or protection. And then we shouldn't be surprised when people pay so that their businesses can survive because that isn't their interest and that's rational.
But then you also can't blame someone in a country. Or maybe you can, but it's attractive for people in a country that won't extradite them to engage in something that's highly lucrative. And that is normalized as a regular organization that might even have healthcare, that as a job and is called a business transaction. So I'd love to look at the larger picture because I don't want to keep doing these haggling down scenarios because we've already lost at that point.
AD : Yeah. Now the extradition sort of stuff seems, I don't know if this is right kind of right of bang or, or do you see that as kinda left before? And is there more stuff from a negotiation perspective in framing the environment that should be being done prior to bang? Because I get what you're saying. Once, once this event has occurred with a threat actor, now you're just trying to salvage, yeah. So is there more, is there more to left to bang that needs to being as you dig into this work?
MB : I think, and again, I just want to acknowledge that I'm out of my depth here. I don't know. Right. And I…..
AD : So are we.
MB : And I think there needs to be a lot of humility here with people that are approaching and to say like, look, from my small little perspective, here's what it looks like. What are you seeing? So I think it looks like a private public partnership.
Something that has always stuck out for me lasts from the past. And again, a lot of respect for the Armed Service who I often prefer to work with as well as the law. I'm thinking about a chart that I saw in a social network analysis class at Fletcher that showed the two masterminds of 9/11. And the idea that in certain parts of the government there was an understanding that these were the doors we should be knocking on, but it wasn't shared, right?
So, the idea wasn't necessarily that there was no intelligence, there wasn't smart intelligence sharing. And look, I know there are levels of sensitivity, right? With information, but they're also politics that I think are inefficient. And I don't mind saying when they're inefficient because if we care about efficiency as negotiators, I see negotiators as people that are optimizing the allocation of resources because that's our time. That's our energy. That's why sometimes we say walk away, it's not worth your time or your energy, right?
So, if we're trying to be efficient with resources, I don't think we're doing a good job. And so I assume left of bang, there's some information sharing, there's some, Hey, I know that we can't attract really brilliant people in the private sector to come work for like a 10th of the pay and you know, a different environment. Let's partner with them to some degree or at least listen to them. But I have to assume that a lot of this just has to do with the culture of, of government, which I'm a bit cynical about.
AD : Yeah. Well, and we could probably dig into the environmental there too. I assume there's probably some overlap in thinking around the environmental piece. I believe you just finished your first semester teaching at BU, is that? how'd it go?
MB : Well, with thanks to your help and support and other people who had done it before it, it made it a lot easier. It feels very surreal because in a business school and especially in BU, it feels very traditional and hierarchical. Like my classroom looks like one of these like 18th century surgeon theaters, you know, where everyone's around and they're looking to you as the source of knowledge and information.
And my first job is to be like, mm-hmm, hmm. I don't know shit. Like I know some things, I know some good principles, I know what not to do. I can coach you, I have, you know, stories for you. But generally speaking, my goal is to take myself, put myself on the side of the room and then point towards the front of the room where there's negotiation stuff that's broader than all of us, which I'm not always engaging skillfully in, right? And to help 'em notice that. So, I enjoyed it. I had undergrads in BU's business school, lovely vibrant kids. And also kids are really stressed these days and they care about grades tremendously, no matter how hard you try and not make that the main factor.
There's an assignment that I really enjoyed that I think I shared with you. I think, you know, I'm also trying to figure out how to attribute things correctly. I think it comes from Mosha Cohen, but you know, this is, this is part of the other work of Max Negotiating is trying to like find the threads and be like, okay, where did this come from and how can we give credit properly? But there's an assignment called, you know, cause I was struggling with how great obsessed students were and you know, the degree to which they weren't tolerating uncertainty very well, which is kind of part of negotiating.
MB : And so I gave 'em an assignment that I believe everyone should give, which is to collect eight nos, to get five nos on behalf of something you're asking for and three on behalf of someone else. And what that does is it makes you ask and makes you hear no, which is scary for those who are rejection sensitive, which I think is, you know, a great deal of, especially younger generations and mine. And you start to realize that the power's in the question, it's an asking. And in fact it's harder to get a no than you might realize, which is its own realization. But the idea is that like, you know, people need exposure therapy to negotiation. That's what they need. You have to actually do it. And so it's just a way of aligning their interests in grades by saying, Hey, this is an assignment.
MB : If you don't get a no, you get marked down, right? So it's about trying to work with what you got and jiu-jitsu that into something that you think is actually good life learning. So incredible experience, I love it. And I don't think it's sustainable for a practitioner. That many students at that pay. You know, we have another kind of systemic issue in terms of how do you, how do you keep good people when we know that there's private sector here where, you know, your semester salary could be made in a single day.
And especially speaking personally where I'm coming from, like, you know, still having student loans and building my business, it's not tenable and that sucks. And that's it, it's s****y to say yeah. Say like, hey, like, you know, next generation kids, I love working with you, but I just can't because of like purely opportunity costs things and it's so I'm excited to, I loved teaching, I'm excited to do it again later in my career.
And right now it's a ton of work without a teaching assistant and with 34 kids and yeah, it's, and also the expectation of a class instead of a workshop or working group. But, you know, I have to flip that around to the two of you, Aram in particular. How, what is teaching like for you?
AD : So I would agree that teaching is a passion first and foremost, right? And you have to balance it. I think that practitioners who can teach because I think teaching does take skill and that was part of my aim in the question I wanted to get to. What are you learning as you teach stuff? Cause it is a little different than as we practice things.
So, I think the two compliment each other really well. And in an ideal world you know, you'd have a foot in each, a little, a little practicing, a little teaching. And I do think teaching over a term also, and I'd be curious to get your take on this, it feels significantly different than when you go in to do a one or two or three day training corporately, right? It just feels much different because you're, you're developing this relationship with your students over, over a much broader time and you've got these assignments that help help, you know, kind of force them. And, and I'm with you on, I hate grading as well and, and, and being driven by the grade and those activities can also force reflection, right? You've got that ability, I dunno, thoughts kind of response reactions to that. And Nolan jump in there.
NM : I'll let y'all continue the conversation as I'm the only one here that's not an academic professor. So….
MB : Well, they let me do it. So, you know.
MB : But I do think, generally speaking, I think we should have a bit more cynicism of positional power to some degree, right? Just because someone is a professor, you know, things are relational, things are network-driven if you're in the same space enough. So I think I was someone who graduated from college and still thought that we lived in a meritocracy. So I think it's important that we not lie to people to some degree and say like, yes, you need to work hard and yes, the cream will rise to the top and also get networking to some degree.
So, there's that in response to Aram. I agree. I think the biggest blessing, aside from the more organic relationship between teacher and student is the amount of time you have, right? To get to understand someone and learn someone to read their reflections, to think about, you know, to notice how they show up in different spaces and to tailor accordingly.
MB : I'm a big fan of Larry Susskind’s Built to Win, which rightly criticizes one-off trainings. And of course I think we all do one-off trainings, but generally speaking, it kind of goes back to the family idea, which is you can, you can train one family member, right? But if the whole system isn't on the same page, it's going to fall right back into it. And that what is it? A good person loses to a bad system.
So, unless you have like full leadership buy-in, from my perspective, these trainings can be nice and people can get great things from them, but generally speaking, you want for meaningful behavioral change to have more than, you know, one to three to five days.
AD : Yeah. And see Nolan, that's where, that's where I was gonna say, even though you haven't taught, I know you've shared that exact same sentiment based on, based on our own experiences together. And Max you go back to the family piece. Absolutely true, right? I mean, you can make a correction, you can have a teaching moment with a child and if you don't address the environment around best case is it has no effect.
Worst cases, it actually is a negative effect because the hypocrisy has now crept in and it's like, why are you teaching one thing? Right? And, and I know we see that with some of the corporate work we do and we all do the one-off trainings. It's really the adoption. And I agree Built To Win is the book that gets to this, right?
And our colleague Danny Ertel years ago also wrote an HBR piece about negotiations, corporate capability. It talks about the yes, you know, soup to nuts sort of approach. Holistic, right? How are we addressing processes and how are we addressing how we reward and incentivize and measure people on KPIs and you know, how do we, how do we exchange information between different business units since that collective investment that is really gonna have an impact on, on how negotiation affects ROI, regardless of how you measure your ROI.
MB : Yeah. And just nerding out with, with the literature and speaking of Ertel, so I have that as a sign reading and also I think The Point Of The Deal, Ertel and Gordon is fantastic in that it talks about the idea that like, okay, the incentives for the people to close a deal may not be aligned with the people who have to deal with the downstream effects, which also then kind of gets into mediation as well. Or just generally that negotiation is primarily about process and not what you're saying, but how you're saying it and how you're structuring it.
And I think in some ways it's kind of obvious that people have different and not not always aligned incentives in an organization. And it comes as news to people when you start to look at your own organization and say, okay, are the people that are pushing for a deal the same people that are invested in the partnership, the relationship and delivery maybe, but maybe not.
AD : Well let's bring this back before we move on. Let's bring it back to your students.
MB : Yes.
AD : Any wins? Do you, I mean, without getting specific, but as you finish up this first term, any sort of wins and learning and observations because of the time that you, that you get with them and the ability to provide feedback and teach through other means like, you know, grading and that sort of thing?
MB : Yeah, definitely. The biggest win that I felt that I had was shifting the idea of the classroom and who had power in the classroom. Meaning that I often put them in situations where they needed to negotiate with each other or me. And so I took something cuz I was in Bob Boone's section of Harvard Negotiation workshop.
And after a few months where you're getting, you know, kind of sure of yourself, like, yeah, I'm a Harvard negotiator, I can do this. He has, you do something where you're just figuring out a scheduling conflict amongst all the students to sign up for this with ips or interpersonal skills. And so I did something like that with my class where I said,”Okay, can you first just tell me what are some good, good pieces of advice in running a multi-party negotiation?” So, I go to the board, I write down everything they say, process, set an agenda, negotiate how you're gonna negotiate, et cetera, et cetera.
MB : And then I'm like, okay, go do it. And it just descends into chaos and positional stuff and you know, the curiosity goes out the window. And then yeah. And then kind of just taking a step back once they've kind of concluded the negotiation, just saying, you know, all this stuff, you know what to do and, but you didn't do it here. Can you talk to me about that?
And for me, I saw a few people have the type of moment that I had in terms of this like, very humbling experience that knowledge and understanding are stored in different parts of our brain, right? That knowing what to do this whole performance gap versus what we actually do in the moment, that was definitely a win for me is to try and give a piece of what I felt like I got in the program negotiation, which is also a motivator for me to just give a taste of the incredible experience that I had.
MB : So that was nice. And you know, it's, you know, definitely the notes you get at, at the end of the class are more rewarding than anything else. So, it's definitely a passion and, and usually for the engaged students who start to realize that they're negotiating everywhere, they're not just bringing their job offers to you. They're like, Hey, I'm actually struggling this semester, right? Can we talk about that? Like, great, you know? Cause if I have a student who says I'm really tired, like I'm feeling sick, I say, great, you don't have to be here.
They're like, what? What are you doing? You don't have to be here. Weigh your interest. You have an alternative. It's not my interest as someone who doesn't wanna be here to be here, right? And so, you know, I'm not pushing people outta my class . I do want them to come, but I try and say like, look, you're negotiating right now.
MB : You're giving me time and hopefully attention. But I can definitely say that, you know, conversations around punctuality, electronics, like you gotta pick your battles. And how rigorously do you demand a space of presence in such a way that you would hope to instill in a negotiator that you're training to understand what it's like to sit in silence and what it means to not be able to be distracted and to be there.
And to what extent are you just like, okay, it's Wednesday night, this is a three hour class. Like, this isn't the battle I'm gonna pick.
AD : Right.
NM : Hey everyone, Nolan here. I'm gonna have to jump in today's podcast for part A of this episode with Max. If you haven't already, please be sure to rate, review and subscribe to the podcast and we'll see you in next week's Part B episode.
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