In the clip, we see business school graduate and CEO Jack Donaghy negotiating with his Trinidadian nanny over her salary.
The nanny displays all the techniques required of a good negotiator. She is patient and knows how things are valued. On the other hand, we see Jack make some fundamental mistakes during the negotiation.
Jacks desperation for a nanny is apparent, which allows her to assess his best alternative. She exploits jacks dependency on her, it is clear that he is in a weaker position. She is aware that he depends on her and therefore she has power in this situation. Jack has no other alternatives. The nanny has correctly assessed each party’s best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA) in this situation.
Throughout the negotiation, the nanny remained silent. This is a very effective device, as silence can often make people uncomfortable and can also be viewed as a rejection of the offer. Her silence made him rush the negotiation process, thus compromising to quickly.
Jack ended up compromising with himself. He was the first to initiate a new offer, but when she showed no signs of accepting this, rather than waiting for a counteroffer, Jack started negotiating with himself.
There is a contrast in the way both parties entered the negotiation. While Jack started off calm and rational, he soon let emotions take over. Druckman and Olekalns (2008) claim that negative emotions have an adverse effect when negotiating. The more emotionally invested you are in a situation, the less likely you are to come to rational conclusions.
On the other hand, the nanny remains emotionally unattached from the situation, patient and very passive. She has no intention of compromising. Her sole verbal contribution to the negotiation is, “so… what you want to do?” by asking this question, she puts pressure on Jack. He needs to do something to make the deal happen. Jack also shows an urgency to reach a deal which might not have been the best thing in this situation. A good negotiator should also know when reaching a deal is not optimum, and instead the parties are better off on their own.
Later on, in a business deal, Jack adopts the same techniques as his nanny and is thus able to successfully negotiate with the business clients.
Druckman, D. and Olekalns, M. (2008) Emotions in Negotiations, Group Decision and Negotiation Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 1-11.
Weigand, E. and Dascal, M. (2001) Negotiation and Power in Dialogic Interaction, John Benjamins Publishing p 167.