Bruce PattonTwo-party, short awareness-building negotiation between a professor and a student over an assignment submitted late due to a death in the student's family
Professor Famous teaches a course on the Theory and Practice of Problem-Solving. On the first day of class, an announcement is always made as to the “No-extension” policy. The Professor explains that the policy is intended to help students avoid the unpleasant consequences of procrastination that he suffered as a young lawyer. This year, when a student did not hand in an optional rough draft, due three weeks before the final, Famous attempted to reach the student by telephone to no avail. The student finally handed in the paper two weeks late, explaining plans to write the paper in the last week before the deadline went awry when the student’s father died suddenly and unexpectedly.
This one-on-one negotiation takes 10-20 minutes. Either party can be given additional psychological role instructions. The negotiation can be repeated with the roles reversed. Videotaping is helpful for review.
- This exercise pits Carol Gilligan’s two “voices” in direct conflict. This situation is exactly the kind contemplated by the professor’s policy, yet we have immense sympathy as well for the student’s position, both substantively and emotionally. Is it possible to “separate the people from the problem” here, and if so how?
- The professor must also be concerned about whether the intended lesson will be understood by the student, or whether the experience will merely be souring. In the latter case, the professor may want to consider possible impacts on the professor’s reputation, either as a person or as a teacher. What weight should that be given?
- What are the student’s interests? Getting an extension? Learning the professor’s lesson? Doing the “right” thing? What, in fact, is perceived as the “right” thing? Like many of these exercises, this is based on a real case, and there seem to be no easy answers.
- The case is a good vehicle for revealing various psychological assumptions and nonverbal behaviors, thereby generally increasing psychological awareness.
- Confidential Instructions for the:
- All of the above
Communication; Education, as a means; Emotions; Ethics; Fairness; Gilligan, two voices; Interpersonal skills; Issue control; Misrepresentation; Nonverbal communication; Power imbalance; Precedents; Pressure tactics; Psychological games; Separating the people from the problem
Death in the Family Attributes
- Time required:
- 30 minutes – 1 hour
- Number of participants:
- Teams involved:
- Agent present:
- Neutral third party present:
- Teaching notes available:
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If you wish to order multiple copies of a role simulation for use in a course or workshop, simply enter the total number of participants in the box next to “Participant Copies.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required; the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center will calculate the appropriate numbers of each role to provide, based on the total number of participants. For example, if you wish to order a 2-party role simulation for use with a class of 30 students, you would enter “30” in the box next to “Participant Copies.” You then would receive 15 copies of one role and 15 copies of the other role, for use with your 30 participants. As another example, if you ordered 30 participant copies of a 6-party role simulation, you would receive 5 copies of each role.
In the event that the number of participant copies you order is not evenly divisible by the number of roles in the simulation, you will receive extra copies of one or more roles. Participants receiving the extra roles may partner with other participants playing the same role, thus negotiating as a team. So, for instance, if you ordered 31 copies of a 2-party role simulation, you would receive 15 copies of the first role and 16 copies of the second role. One of the participants playing the second role would partner with another participant playing that same role, and the two would negotiate as a team.