A Pruning Predicament

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CASE STUDY. This case illustrates basic negotiation concepts.


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A Pruning Predicament: Abstract

A minor incident made worse by poor communication skills has embittered the relationship between Trees-R-Us, a small landscaping company, and one of its clients. A hedge trimmer employed by the company inadvertently cut through a few wires during the annual hedge trimming. Steve Bernard, co-owner of the property and member of the co-owners association’s Green committee, had offered to hold the wires out of harm’s way, but his offer had been ignored when he left to make a phone call. While it was a minor incident, it could easily have been avoided. The hedge trimmer responsible for the incident had advised Bernard that he would be reimbursed for the damage, which Bernard estimated to be about $900, but Robert Anderson, president and owner of Trees-R-Us, was unwilling to do so. Bernard had to wait months for an answer and was disappointed by its coldness when it finally arrived. Christine Rodriguez, the company’s customer service manager, had always given him good service in the past, but he was unable to reach her. Bernard was finally told that he would not be compensated for the damage but would be offered a $100 discount on the following year’s contract. Dissatisfied, Bernard had asked to meet in person with Anderson and Rodriguez to negotiate a fairer solution.

Teaching objectives

The following negotiation concepts are illustrated:

  • Preparing to negotiate;
  • Developing the ability to negotiate;
  • The importance of human relations and communication skills to negotiations;
  • Understanding what is really happening during a negotiation, including the issues, the interests, the balance of power, the stakeholders, and the financial considerations;
  • Different negotiation styles and personality types;
  • Helpful aptitudes, whatever your position within a company or your role in society.

Additional information

Also available in French.

Teachers’ notes are available for university teachers only. Please contact the HEC Montréal Case Centre.

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