1. Difficult Conversations in the Research Workplace: Fundamentals of Negotiation (also called Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Skills for Scientists)

A full day workshop for scientists, researchers and research managers

So much of what takes place every day in the lab or in science team meetings involves resolving differences of opinion or accommodating multiple viewpoints in complex scientific discussions. Often such discussions engender strong emotions, leading the participants to engage in counterproductive behaviors. At times the scientific discussion can get de-railed by emotion laden interchanges, and projects can be hampered or even halted.

What do scientists find hard to do?

  • Disagreeing productively over technical matters (“That can’t possibly be right, you forgot to  pre-incubate it ..”)
  • Dealing with demanding supervisors (“I need these 30 cell lines assayed by the end of  the week.”) or recalcitrant      employees (“No way can I get that done, I’m taking next week off  –  didn’t I tell you?”) 
  • Providing honest and useful feedback to employees
  • Dealing with embarrassing personal  matters (“Larry, people in the lab find your body  odor distracting…”)
  • Dealing with pushy, obnoxious, competitive colleagues who defocus you from the task 
  • Dealing productively with vexing issues such as space allocation, equipment use and lab  cleanliness
  • Mediating disputes between employees
  • Dealing with others taking credit for their work

What do all these situations have in common?

  • They all involve interacting with others. 
  • They all involve an uncomfortable situation in which emotions are stirred up. 
  • This can lead to instinctual responses – “fight or flight” reactions- that lead to confrontation,  avoidance and  un-productive outcomes

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It doesn't have to be this way. Dr Carl M. Cohen has created a series of workshops that are specifically focused on helping scientists interact and collaborate more effectively. The workshop on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution is the most popular of these. The workshop can be tailored to meet the needs of the audience, typically runs from four to six hours, and is highly interactive. 
  
How can learning negotiation help?

  • Becoming a good negotiator forces you to “read” needs, interests and beliefs of others.
  • Good negotiators learn to monitor and modulate their own behavior in tense and emotion laden  situations.
  • Negotiation teaches that listening can be more productive than talking. 
  • Effective negotiators (like effective leaders) identify and focus on underlying interests  rather than on rigid positions.


This is not a generic negotiation workshop. It focuses specifically on situations that scientists encounter every day, and provides tools and guidelines that will be immediately relevant and useful to a scientific audience. The workshop can be customized for different audiences - for example the situations and case studies will be different for academic audiences and audiences from, for example, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. 

Because of the interactive nature of these workshops, they are typically limited to no more than 70 participants. The workshop is suitable for a mixed audience ranging from graduate students, post-docs and faculty at academic institutions and scientists, managers and above in Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical companies.