Negotiation Education: Behavioral Economist Leads Workshop on Preparing for Negotiation
October 17, 2021 by Kristin LeFeber

When negotiating in business, you should set high aspirations, keep them realistic but optimistic, and do not reveal all your cards, said Roman Sheremeta, an associate professor at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University during a three-hour workshop Oct. 6 at ASM International on Kinsman Road in Newbury Township. 

When negotiating in business, you should set high aspirations, keep them realistic but optimistic, and do not reveal all your cards, said Roman Sheremeta, an associate professor at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University during a three-hour workshop Oct. 6 at ASM International on Kinsman Road in Newbury Township.

The event, co-sponsored by Geauga Growth Partnership and Red Key Network, drew around 25 attendees. Those in the session included members of these organizations, as well as non-members.

“We are all negotiating something all the time,” said Lori O’Neill, who works for Hanna Commercial Real Estate and sits on the Red Key board of directors.

The workshop, entitled “Preparing for Negotiation,” included a brief introduction on how to assess yourself, the other party and the situation before a negotiation.

Participants were given a case study in which they were either the buyer or seller of a pharmaceutical plant.

After some preparation time, attendees were paired off to attempt to make a deal. This breakout session concluded with a debriefing of 10 strategies for negotiation.

They were:

  • Set high aspirations — realistic but optimistic;
  • Improve your Best Alternative To a Negotiation Agreement;
  • Do not reveal your BATNA;
  • Research the other party’s BATNA;
  • Make the first offer (if prepared);
  • Support your offer with facts;
  • Use precise numbers;
  • Use “loss frames” (what the other would lose);
  • Plan your concessions;
  • Appeal to fairness norms.

“This was one of their better sessions,” said Scott Sapita, owner, general manager and co-founder of BaseTek, LLC, in Middlefield, a member of Geauga Growth Partnership. “(It was) good reinforcement. I definitely picked up a few good tactics to use.”

O’Neill was integral in bringing Sheremeta to Geauga County.

“We aim to provide subjects that would enhance (our member’s) professional skills,” she said of Red Key’s programming.

Red Key Network is a community of sharing, caring women who support each other. They share knowledge and expertise, teach others their skills and lend a hand when it’s needed, according to their website.

Sheremeta, who has presented to groups of thousands, agreed to create and lead the smaller scale workshop for personal reasons.

“I am a Clevelander. I plan to retire here, so of course I care about the community. I want the businesses to thrive,” he said.

Sheremeta holds a doctorate in economics from Purdue University and is a recipient of many research and teaching awards. He was listed as a “top economic thinker of Ukrainian descent” by Forbes in 2015, a top-rated young economist in the world, according to the IDEAS ranking in 2018 and recognized as the “Best 40 Under 40 Professors” by Poets and Quants in 2019, according to the Weatherhead website.

Behavioral economics is one of Sheremeta’s specific fields of passion.

“Behavioral economics is the study of economic decision making and the psychological insights that influence those decisions,” he said.

Workshop participants suggested Sheremeta might return to discuss the art of negotiating in more personal realms.

“Of course,” he said. “The most important thing is the sense that negotiating can be fun. Many people would say they are not good at it, but there are very specific tools that you can use to get a better outcome.”