By S26274 – OCdt Michael Wolscht, 12 SQN
Since 2010 the West Point Negotiation Project (WPNP) has held an annual military negotiation workshop for cadets and officers to help develop necessary skills and methods for negotiating effectively both in and out of military operations. The workshop brings together a number of participants including West Point cadets, U.S. Army officers, and FBI agents. In addition, visiting cadets come from the U.S. Naval Academy, Royal Military College of Canada (RMCC), and ROTC programs at Yale, Princeton, MIT, Cornell, St. Bonaventure, and Texas A&M. The workshop provides cadets with an opportunity to learn the importance of leader competency, the framework for systematic analysis in negotiation situations, and a chance to practice negotiating in a series of role-playing exercises. I had the opportunity to attend to this unique two-day workshop with OCdt Danielle Desgagné (3 SQN) and Capt Jean-Marc Dionne (Military Psychology and Leadership Department) who was also a participant and the accompanying officer.
From my experience, this workshop has taught me how to effectively identify and handle conflicts from a negotiation standpoint. I had the chance to hear multiple quest speakers and experts in negotiation discuss its importance and relevance in both civilian and military life. Hearing real life stories from the Green Berets, U.S. Army Generals, and FBI agents, who helped negotiate to get Captain Phillips back from Somali pirates, has given me the rare opportunity to understand just how important and necessary negotiating can be to our careers in the military.
The second portion of the workshop provided us with a chance to put these newly taught skills into practical negotiation scenarios. The room was divided into groups who would choose a “champion”, the individual who would negotiate on the groups’ behalf, to compete against the other groups. I was lucky to have been chosen by my American peers to represent out team. Winning the first round of negotiations, our team moved onto the finals where I was required to negotiate against the leading professor of leadership and negotiation studies at West Point. After a long and difficult discussion my team and I had one the competition. This was an amazing opportunity to put the skills we had been learning into practice.
We would highly recommend this negotiation workshop to any cadet interested in gaining some educational and practical experience in how to resolve everyday conflicts that are present in both civilian environments and military operations. The skills that are taught at the WPNP are those that will be applicable to cadets once they graduate RMCC, become commissioned officers, and stay with members through their entire career in the Canadian Armed Forces. We cannot emphasise enough how beneficial this workshop was for me and I know the skills I developed will stay with me throughout my career.
The WPNP has honestly been one of the most beneficial workshops I have had the opportunity to be apart of. We would like to take this opportunity to graciously thank the RMC foundation for funding the trip and giving the cadets an opportunity to further their training in the field of negotiation.