Management conflict

A large technology company is going to market with a new software application (product) that tracks college students’ progress through their academic careers. The customer base for this company is higher education. Focus groups were conducted with students, staff, faculty, and company representatives to test and name the product. The marketing department decided not to take the feedback they received from these focus groups with respect to naming the product, and they named the product Pilot. In higher education, as in most industries, the term “pilot” means a test or trial phase. The salespeople are struggling with calling the product Pilot, and are making up their own names for it as they discuss it with customers. The Director of Sales tried unsuccessfully to discuss the situation with the Director of Marketing to negotiate a new name for the product that is more in line with the company’s target market. The meeting turned into a yelling match. Currently, the two directors are at an impasse.

Evaluate where the communication breakdown occurred in this negotiation, using terminology and knowledge from this module, and propose at least two communication strategies that might have allowed the negotiation process to be more successful.

Your paper should be 2-3 pages in length and conform to APA Requirements. Include at least two scholarly references in addition to the course readings.

Grammar and punctuation are KEY!


Listening is a very important component of effective communication. There are three levels of listening:

  • Passive listening occurs when the listening party provides no feedback as to whether he or she is listening. Passive listening can be a successful strategy in a distributive bargaining situation if the other party is very talkative. The talkative party can create an unfavorable position for himself/herself and not realize that he/she was responsible for that negative result.
  • Acknowledgement occurs when the listening party interjects short responses, such as “I see” or “hmmm,” while the other party is communicating. The talking party understands that the other party is listening, but may infer an erroneous message that the other party is in agreement.
  • Active listening is the most encouraging to the talking party. During active listening, the listening party engages fully with the talking party, rephrasing and repeating what the talking party has said and asking questions for clarification.

One strategy for communicating in a negotiation situation where the parties use different styles and syntaxes is to stop the negotiation and redefine its goals and the appropriate process (Mujtaba, 2013). As the goals are redefined and the parties become more aware of each other’s interests, a more collaborative negotiation process can emerge, and the situation may be settled with an equitable outcome. As negotiators find themselves in situations that are more diverse, they will need to become better at communicating and reading the other party’s communication style, and learn to adjust their own style, to achieve more successful interactions and negotiation outcomes.

Communication is the substance of negotiating. The process of negotiation is the exchange of information that is communicated in some form. There are two levels of language used in a negotiation situation. The logical level contains the actual facts concerning the item(s) being negotiated. The pragmatic level contains the hints and inferred messages embedded in the communication style, syntax, and semantics. Each piece of information communicated in a negotiation contains both logical and pragmatic levels. An offer’s dollar amount is the logical level of a piece of information being communicated; and, the tone of voice, the words chosen, and the nonverbal aspects of delivering the dollar amount of the offer are all part of the pragmatic level of the communication.

Culture—even regional culture—can dictate a negotiator’s comfort and style within the pragmatic level of communication. For example, people raised in the southern part of the United States are exposed to regional euphuisms that have traditionally been used in communicating information in that part of the country. A negotiator from Tennessee may respond to the other party by saying, “That dog won’t hunt,” meaning, “I can’t accept that proposal.” Using that euphuism is a southern cultural way of softening a straight “no.” The other party in the negotiation, especially if he or she is not from that part of the country, may be confused by what “that dog won’t hunt” means, thereby impeding progress and setting a different tone in the next iteration of the negotiation.

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