Interview With Wolf Diederichs, MBS Lecturer for Negotiation Skills

MBS Professor Wolf Diederichs

Wolf Diederichs is an expert and lecturer in negotiation skills . At Munich Business School, he has been teaching the seminar “Negotiation Skills” in the MBA program for more than 10 years, which is now open to non-MBAs for the first time. The next dates for the two-day seminar are March 23 and 24 (in German) and April 17 and 18 (in English). The MBS marketing team met Wolf Diederichs for an interview and talked with him about the seminar and his fascination with the topic negotiation.


MBS: How did you come up with the subject of negotiation, and what do you find interesting about it?

Wolf Diederichs: It started in 2006 with a course in negotiation at the Harvard Business School. That was a real eye-opener for me. One says “Negotiation is not an art, it’s a science”, which means that the field is now very well researched and you can systematically learn how to achieve better negotiation results. This systematic basis is important and fascinates me. Practical experience in negotiation is also needed, but it is not enough. Because in the real world, in most cases, you cannot judge how good your result of the negotiation actually is and whether you have made any mistakes. That is why our seminars closely link theory and practice. We negotiate practice cases and then discuss the results and errors that may have occurred. Another thing that I find exciting is that our negotiation seminars bring together professionals from a wide variety of countries, industries and functional areas. There are always different perspectives and approaches to negotiations in the group and therefore very interesting discussions.


MBS: How is the seminar “Negotiation Skills” structured and what competences do the participants acquire?

Wolf Diederichs: The intensive two-day course provides an overview of the most important principles and strategies of negotiation. We look at the basic building blocks of any negotiation and see how we can put them together. We also discuss the differences between win/win and win/lose negotiations and how to balance the two approaches. In addition to the theoretical input, practical application also plays a major role: in interactive case studies and exercises, the participants repeatedly train their practical negotiation skills and learn useful strategies and tactics. Through the intensive mix of theory and practice, participants gain a new perspective on their own negotiations and can recognize and correct personal behavior patterns more easily.


MBS: So far, the seminar was only open to MBA students. Why should non-students also attend the seminar?

Wolf Diederichs: The topic of negotiation is of course not only relevant for MBA students. Negotiation skills are needed in all industries as well as at all professional and management levels. However, the subject of negotiation is missing in many training courses, with the result that there are often still uncertainties and misunderstandings. That is why I am very pleased that the MBA “Negotiation Skills” seminar of Munich Business School is now also offered outside the MBA program and can be booked as a stand-alone seminar.


MBS: For which fields of work and target groups is the seminar relevant?

Wolf Diederichs: Negotiation is a core competency for effective managers and employees at all levels and across all functions in companies as well as social and cultural institutions. Whenever a manager or an employee requires the cooperation of others to reach his objective, he/she has to negotiate. Solving most managerial problems depends on the manager’s ability to create and implement lasting agreements among the parties concerned. In fact, given that managers rely on others to get their work done, it’s hard to imagine a more essential skill.


MBS: About you, what is your background and why should people attend the seminar especially with you?

Wolf Diederichs: A long, long time ago (laughs) I studied business administration at the University of Passau. After a few years as a sales manager in the music business, I switched to the financial services sector and today I am head of the RFP department at Allianz Global Investors. At Munich Business School I have been teaching negotiation skills to MBA students for over 10 years. The theory of negotiation I learned at Harvard Business School. The practice I experience every day at work, but also at home with my three children – negotiations that I regularly lose (laughs again).


MBS: Many thanks for the nice interview, Wolf Diederichs!