As a first-year NYU Law student, I took a class called Lawyering, which teaches some of the crucial skills lawyers need, from the elements of legal writing to negotiation strategies.  While interning in Accra this summer, I’ve found that negotiation skills have come in handy–especially while getting around town.
Ostriches in Ghana

"Hey, Ostrich, wanna give me a lift so I can skip the taxi?"

In Accra, taxi fares should be negotiated before you get in the car. By now I’ve fallen into a sort of standard opening for this negotiation- I greet the driver in a local language (Twi), tell him where we I want to go, and make the opening offer. I’ve learned it’s easier to come to an agreement on a price I’m happy with in the end when the opening offer is low to begin with.
Also, like most negotiations, it’s important to understand when the parties have actually come to an agreement. To this end, I’ve found it’s really helpful to make sure the driver and I are 100% on the same page about the price.
For example, you might suggest a price- maybe 5 cedi, he’ll say 6 cedi, you’ll say 5 again, and then he’ll say “let’s go.” To me, that would seem to mean “we’ve agreed on 5 cedi.” But not so fast- once when I clarified with the driver that 5 cedi was indeed the agreed price, he then said, no, I should give him 6 cedi.
It shows you that in negotiations, you’ve got to stay on your toes and be ready for anything!
Now, if only I could bring in the element of negotiation to cab fares in NYC…
This entry was written by and posted on July 29, 2010.
The entry was filed under these categories: Classes

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