When Professor Jean-Nicolas Reyt began teaching an undergraduate Negotiations and Conflict Resolution course at the Desautels Faculty of Management, he discovered that many of his students harboured an aversion to the concept of negotiating. “There is something about negotiating that makes people feel greedy or aggressive,” explains Prof. Reyt. “I try to show my students that you can negotiate in a way that benefits everyone. It’s ‘win-win,’ not ‘give me more.’”
In 2017, Prof. Reyt created a class negotiation competition when it became apparent that simulations were never going to prepare his students for the give and take of real-life negotiations. The competition requires each student to renegotiate their basic payments—rent, phone bill, internet, and insurance—before seeking out additional opportunities to negotiate other measurable transactions. “It doesn’t matter to me what they negotiate,” says Prof. Reyt. “The whole point is to get out there and try.”
Every week, Prof. Reyt’s teaching assistant, Julia Cerone, verifies and tallies the number of documented negotiations submitted by each student team and how much return on negotiation each transaction represents. Student teams compete against each other all semester for bragging rights and a two percent grade boost.
This year, one of Prof. Reyt’s classes earned a return on negotiation of more than $30,000 for a total of 209 valid negotiations. The first winning team prioritized the quantity of negotiations, while the second team focused on their total dollar return on negotiations.
Team 1: Winner of Highest Number of Negotiations
- Eva Ren
- Maxime Lakat
- Nicholas De Francisco Paul
- Jasmine Saluja
Team 4: Winner of Highest Return on Negotiations
- Maya Astrologo
- Leila Bakkioui
- Nicoletta Athanasopoulos
- Younes Mohamad
“Every class takes the competition seriously, but these particular students took it to the next level,” says Prof. Reyt. “The class had half the typical number of students and twice the number of negotiations. I was especially impressed because they can’t negotiate in person during the pandemic. What they have done here is amazing.”
Beyond the competition, Prof Reyt. enjoys watching his students gain the confidence they previously lacked. “My students are incredibly intelligent, but they often come in feeling powerless to negotiate,” he shares. “As they negotiate everything from their rent to their first internship salary, they are ultimately becoming more critical, more autonomous, and more prepared to make a good life for themselves.”