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Twelve Angry Men is a movie based on a group of 12 men who are chosen for jury d

uty. The men are from different backgrounds and of different ages. The case on w
hich they have to pass judgment is that of a young boy who has been accused of m
urdering his father. The jurors are supposed to reach a unanimous decision based
on whether they think the boy is innocent or guilty on the charge of murder. Th
e twelve men were placed in a small jury room which is very hot because of the w
eather outside. As the jury deliberates, various jury members put forth their op
inions and thoughts. Initially only one of the 12 men-Juror number 8 thinks the
boy is not guilty –the movie follows the process of deliberation and negotiation t
hat the jury members go through to reach the final decision. As the movie progre
sses we see that Juror number 8 is able to convince all the other 11 members of
the jury to see his perspective and the final vote is passed as not guilty.
The men exhibited a positional style of bargaining- they were locked and rigid i
n their decisions and would not give up on them. There were no personal or profe
ssional relationships involved in this negotiation as a result of which the jury
members did not play fair or try to build trust amongst each another. The men w
ere not afraid to play hardball and argue based on their individual positions in
stead of arguing based on principles- especially Juror number 3 who throughout t
he movie is not ready to accept that the boy is innocent despite all the evidenc
e to the contrary. One of the interesting aspects of the movie was the different
negotiating styles which were displayed by the jury members for eg-The second j
ury member was a not to assertive, soft negotiator and agreed too readily with e
verybody, on the other hand Juror number 8 was a fair but tough negotiator and w
ould not give up on his reasoning despite everybody disagreeing with him. It’s imp
ortant to develop a negotiation style like the Juror number 8-tought but fair, t
his way even if you are able to negotiate and get your way, it does not leave th
e other party feeling like they have been cheated.
The key lessons I learnt about developing an effective negotiation style were –
• The movie highlight the role personal interest’s play while making decisions-Juror
number 7 was focused on getting to his ball game on time and throughout the mov
ie tries to hurry up the proceedings, thus highlighting the role personal intere
st’s play while making decisions and picking sides. It’s important when going in to
negotiate to not only know the key players but also know where their interests l
ie. In the movie once the critical tipping point was reached and enough jury mem
bers thought the boy was innocent, they almost formed a sub-group supporting eac
h other’s arguments and thus working together to convince the opposing jury member
s- If possible when negotiating try and build a coalition.
• Using different bargaining style with different people. Juror number 8 throughou
t the movie changes his style depending on who he is dealing with - at time cajo
ling, at times firm and at times even aggressive. It’s important to know what work
s when negotiating with different individuals. Juror number 8 had a very experie
nced and sophisticated style of negotiation; he switched between different style
with ease and comfort. On the other hand juror number 3 was loud, aggressive an
d pushy displaying a very competitive style of negotiation.
• Strength of an argument is more important than the style of argument process. Wi
nning a negotiation does not depends on how aggressive or loud you are rather it
depends on the merit and logic of your argument and strength of your position a
nd convictions.
• The importance of logic, rationality and cool mind. Often times when one has a p
ersonal stake in a negotiation process, it’s easy to get worked up and involved, t
his can have a detrimental effect on the negotiating process. By maintaining a c
ool composure you are able to think rationally and negotiate based on the streng
th of your argument and logic. This is a key factor to effectively negotiating i
n a work environment.
• The importance of giving in and knowing when to back off. Juror no 8 initially i
s the only one who thinks that the boy is innocent. After the first round of deb
ating, he realized that he is being perceived as stubborn and obstinate. After s
trongly arguing his points about why he thinks the boy is innocent he gives in a
nd offers a proposition to the other eleven men to re-vote this time anonymously
by doing this he did not come across as inflexible and mulish. While negotiatin
g, especially in situations where relationships are involved it’s important to neg
otiate fairly and give in on certain points, otherwise it can damage the relatio
nship.
• Importance of environment- The jury members were in a hot small room and wanted
to reach a consensus as quickly as possible, so that they could leave the uncomf
ortable surroundings. This highlighted the important role played by the environm
ent and the surroundings where the negotiation was held. Throughout the movie di
fferent jury members got angry, loud and aggressive, while these are certainly a
part of one’s negotiating style and personality, the hot stifling environment agg
ravated the situation. When negotiating things like having a meeting on one’s own
turf or holding an interview across a table can send an unspoken but powerful me
ssage. It important to think through this and set up an environment which is con
ducive and advantageous to one’s position.
One of the biggest takeaways from this class for me has been the concrete exampl
es of different negotiation styles. This has allowed me to slowly try and shift
from a competitive style of negotiation to a more co-operative yet firm style of
negotiation.