Session 02: The Art of Negotiation

Date: April 14th, 2023
Location: Steelcase

Led by: Vance Cunningham and Hannah Seigel
Session Sponsor: Davis Construction, HGA, Steelcase
Session Downloads: Session Program


On Friday, April 14, CKLDP 2023 scholars met at the Steelcase Showroom in DC to discuss the “Art of Negotiation.” After lunch and an icebreaker activity, University of Maryland Professor Vijaya Venkataramani presented on the “Science of Negotiation.” Next up, Chris Bentley, an attorney for HGA architects, applied the science to real-life architectural scenarios. The group enjoyed a roundtable discussion about the presentations and had an opportunity to ask questions of the guest speakers and of each other. One of the biggest takeaways was that negotiation is a learned skill and that open-mindedness and confidence will lead to successful negotiations.

Act 00-01

Presentation #1

The Science of Negotiation
Speakers: Professor Vijaya Venkataramani

Professor Venkataramani of the R.H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland brought her 12-14 years of experience teaching the science of negotiation to CKLDP. With bright energy and enthusiasm, she explained that there are three factors that play into a successful negotiation: 1) Believe that negotiation is a skill that can be learned, 2) Develop confidence, and 3) Approach any situation with an open mind that you can negotiate the situation. She also discussed how preparation is absolutely key to a successful negotiation, with only 20% of your total time spent on the negotiation execution. Professor Venkataramani provided us with an excellent toolbox to start learning to become successful negotiators not only in business, but personally as well.

Act 01-2

Presentation #2

Negotiation in Architecture (aka “Negotiations for architects who want to negotiate good and do other good things too”)
Speakers: Chris Bentley

Chris Bentley, an attorney for HGA architects used his sense of humor and relaxed presence to encourage everyone to not only not be afraid of contract negotiation but rather run towards it. Through a variety of mediums including a PowerPoint, whiteboard sketches and mock negotiations, he explained that negotiation is not about winning, it is about identifying problems and solving them together. Chris described the best approach to negotiations is to find the middle ground between being aggressive to win and negotiating passively. This middle ground is called the “Assertive Professional:” being soft on people but hard on the problem. Memorable one-liners aside, it was certainly important to hear the opinion of a professional who manages risk within an architecture firm everyday, giving us a dose of confidence to move forward in future negotiations.

Act 02-1

Presentation #3

Roundtable Discussion
Speakers: Professor Venkataramani and Chris Bentley

Both Professor Venkataramani and Chris Bentley stayed on to answer questions and participate in a roundtable discussion with the group. Topics ranged from how to
ask for a raise, negotiating client fees, and the importance of relationships in successful negotiations. All in all, it is about flexibility and communication and educating one another on what each other values. The group certainly left the room ready to take on more negotiations!

Act 03-2