Negotiation Skills | Queen's University IRC

Queen's University IRC

Queen's University

Negotiation Skills

ALR 301
5 Credits

Developing Negotiating Styles and Tactics to Master the Dynamics of Collective Bargaining

To be added to the waitlist for the April 26-30, 2021, session of this course, please send an email to

If you are involved in collective bargaining, you know the complex and multi-layered dynamics at play. Whether you represent a business unit, government department, or union, you know that the organization's strategic interests and priorities are tied to how well you do at the bargaining table. But can you implement more effective collective bargaining strategies that are true to your own style and the organization's best interests? These and other important issues are explored in our intensive five-day Negotiation Skills program, which features expert instruction and on-the-spot coaching.

Tour of the Program

a) Understanding the Negotiation Process

The opening component of our program establishes the foundation on which new skills can be based. We draw the big picture in collective bargaining: what must the organization accomplish in the negotiation round, and what are the dynamics at play. We set the stage by:

  • Defining strategic negotiations
  • Teasing out the dynamics of power/rights/interests approaches
  • Identifying individual team and organizational capabilities

b) Building and Prepping the Negotiating

In preparation for your extended bargaining simulation later in the week, we explore how to create roles and responsibilities for effective team dynamics. We analyze bargaining dynamics as well, including intra-team, inter-team, and team-constituent bargaining.

c) Developing a Collective Bargaining Strategy

There are many crucial elements to consider in crafting a strategy for your bargaining round.

Here are several that are discussed:

  • Gathering and analyzing data
  • Determining the real issues and interests (yours and theirs)
  • Framing issues for productive dialogue
  • Gaining team agreement on priorities,strategies, tactics, and processes
  • Communicating with stakeholder groups
  • Formulating a bargaining mandate

d) Negotiation Simulation: Part 1

Here is your chance to practice what you have learned so far this week. The first part of the simulation gives your team an opportunity to identify bargaining priorities, formulate interests, and anticipate the other team’s interests to develop a foundation for moving forward. Begin to manage team dynamics by establishing roles and responsibilities, and gaining team agreement on strategies.

e) Introduction to Costing the Collective Agreement

This workshop is devoted to the art and science of costing the collective agreement. You get a template for costing the monetary and nonmonetary issues of your collective agreement, and apply the information to your ongoing simulation.

f) Negotiation Simulation: Part 2

After forming your opening statements, your team meets to negotiate effective pre-agreements on ground rules and process issues. Watch for possible turbulence in team dynamics.

g) The Union View of Bargaining

We ensure that our roster of coaches includes strong and experienced representatives of unions. In this spirited session they offer the union perspective, fielding your candid questions and satisfying your curiosity.

h) Negotiating to Agreement

There are a number of techniques to employ in order to reach a satisfactory bargaining conclusion.

Here are several that are explored:

  • Questioning skills for distinguishing interests from positions, exploring assumptions, and obtaining important information
  • Creating joint problem-solving statements
  • Negotiating without locking onto positions
  • Controlling destructive dynamics
  • Dealing with sources of resistance
  • Linking issues and solutions for effective resolution
  • Packaging and re-packaging offers

i) Negotiation Simulation: Parts 3 to 5

The negotiation simulation comes to a climax during this full day of bargaining. Do team members perform as advertised? Have you considered all the possible counter-proposals? Prepare to be surprised by the results.

j) Pre-Bargaining Rituals

The bargaining process is a bit like going to a dance: there are rituals, strategies, and tactics that play out beneath the surface.

In this section you will learn:

  • How to set the tone for productive bargaining
  • How to prepare and deliver an opening statement
  • How to negotiate pre-agreements on ground rules and meeting schedules
  • How to develop a joint bargaining process/agenda

k) Concluding the Agreement

Learn how to go from agreement in principle to agreement on specifics by:

  • Drafting contract language and checking for mutual understanding
  • Communicating with stakeholder groups to achieve agreement and ratification.
  • Reaching agreement on the entire package

Success is close at hand, but pay attention to details.

l) Large Group Debrief

With the intensity of the simulation melted away, it is time to take stock of the lessons learned and gather feedback from coaches. Begin to contemplate your role in future negotiations and how you will enhance the competitive position of your organization.  

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the week, you will be better positioned to:

  • Prepare effectively for negotiations by identifying interests and developing strategic mandates
  • Open negotiations constructively and negotiate pre-agreements
  • Build skills in formulating and delivering proposals and managing impasses
  • Develop the skills of an effective negotiator including listening, probing, identifying interests, and mutually solving problems
  • Develop skills in costing both your present collective agreement and proposed new clauses


Organizational Benefits

  • Better outcomes from collective bargaining sessions
  • Faster and more effective preparation of negotiating team members
  • Improved labour management relations
  • Creation of competitive advantage through strategic negotiations

Takeaway Tools

  • Planning for Bargaining Workbook
  • Issues Analysis/Preparation/Framing Templates
  • Negotiations Checklist  

Who Should Attend

Labour Relations and Human Resources professionals, union representatives, and managers who prepare for negotiations  

Facilitators and Speakers

Lead Facilitator(s)

Gary Furlong

Gary Furlong has extensive experience in labour mediation, alternative dispute resolution, negotiation, and conflict resolution.  Gary is past president of the ADR Institute of Ontario, is a Chartered Mediator (C. Med.) and holds his Master of Laws (ADR) from Osgoode Hall Law School.  Gary is the author of The Conflict Resolution Toolbox, John Wiley and Sons, 2005; the co-author of The Construction Dispute Resolution Handbook, Lexis Nexis 2004; and The Sports Playbook, Routledge, 2018.

Gary has worked with the Queen’s University School of Industrial Relations conducting research into employment models of dispute resolution in Canadian companies. He teaches a number of labour-related...

Read the full bio for Gary Furlong

Mercedes Watson

Mercedes Watson, MA, BFA, C.Med. IMI, is the CEO of Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services, a non-profit, multi-site, multi sector agency providing over sixty programs to those most vulnerable in Toronto’s downtown east with a mission to create lasting solutions to end poverty, social injustices, and isolation. Dixon Hall has been offering its services since 1929 and has a staff of over 300, many of whom are represented by CUPE local 2497, and focuses on the following services: seniors, housing and homelessness, employment, children and youth, and a celebrated music school.

Prior to taking on her role with Dixon Hall, Mercedes served as Senior Strategist and Founder of a boutique-consulting firm, Thought Department...

Read the full bio for Mercedes Watson

Guest Speaker(s)

Al Loyst

Al Loyst was a member of the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) for 45 years. This unprecedented tenure provided him with valuable insight into collective bargaining and the unionized landscape as it has adapted and transformed in Canada. As a result of the unique roles that Al held at General Motors (GM), he has been able to utilize his skills to play an integral role in assisting the membership in obtaining solid contracts and fair employment. Al’s lengthy career with GM has offered him the ability to see change through a variety of different positions such as “wellness coordinator” (with the transition of the truck plant, Al was instrumental in bargaining for a fitness centre), human-rights investigator and human-...

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Deborah Cooper

Deborah Cooper is currently the Director of Labour Relations and General Counsel of a federal union representing both public service and private federally-regulated employees in different bargaining units across Canada, as well as being a regular lecturer at Queen’s University Industrial Relations Centre (IRC) since 2013.

Prior to this role, she was the General Secretary of the National Joint Council (NJC) of the Public Service of Canada. She was a union-side appointee to the position, having held the post from May 2013 – June 2018. The position is alternately held by the employer side and bargaining agent side appointees for a five-year period each. The NJC is a union-management organization that is the forum...

Read the full bio for Deborah Cooper

*The roster of speakers is subject to change.

Venues and Accommodations

Jul 19-23, 2021 (10am-5pm ET): Virtual Seat

Queen’s IRC will deliver this program virtually, via Zoom, and all participants will attend the program live as it happens. Plan to use video, as appropriate, and have a dedicated working space to participate and engage with the class.

Oct 25-29, 2021 (10am-5pm ET): Virtual Seat

Queen’s IRC will deliver this program virtually, via Zoom, and all participants will attend the program live as it happens. Plan to use video, as appropriate, and have a dedicated working space to participate and engage with the class.

Dec 6-10, 2021: Kingston

The program venue has not been finalized. Queen's IRC programs are usually held at a hotel. Please check back at a later date or contact Queen's IRC at 1-888-858-7838 for additional information.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I register for a program?

You can register online, call us toll-free at 1-888-858-7838, or email us at Once you register, we will send you a confirmation by email. Information about the program location, check-in time, and the agenda will follow.

How do I pay for the program?

If you are registering online, you may pay by Visa or MasterCard.  You may also choose to be invoiced first, and pay by cheque (payable to Queen's University) or credit card. You may also wish to call us with your credit card number to make the payment.

If your organization is tax exempt, we will require a copy of your tax exemption certificate.

Do you offer discounts?

We offer an Early-Bird discount for in-person programs. If you register 60 days before the start of a program, you will save $300 on the tuition of four- and five-day programs, and $150 on two- and three-day programs. Virtual programs are offered at approximately 15% less than our in-person rates and are not eligible for an Early-Bird rate.

If you register three people from the same organization in the same program at the same time, you will receive a 10% discount on program fees. If you register five or more people in the same program at the same time, you will receive a 20% discount. These discounts apply to both in-person and virtual training.

If you know you will be pursuing a Queen's Certificate and would like to remit tuition in one payment before your first program, we offer a 10% discount on program fees. Contact us at for more information.

Please note that only one discount may be applied.

What is included in the registration fee?

Program fees include tuition, workbook materials, lunches, and some dinners. You are responsible for transportation, accommodation, and some meals.

Once I enroll in a program, may I cancel without penalty?

Substitutions are permitted with no penalty 8 days or more from the program start date.
Substitutions 7 days or less before the program start date will be subject to a $500 charge.
Transfers and cancellations are permitted with no penalty up to 15 days prior to the program start date.
Transfers and cancellations 14 days or less from the program start date will be subject to a 100% charge of the program fee.

Where does the program take place?

Our programs typically take place at a hotel. This information can be found in the tab above, called Venue and Accommodations.

I would like to make my travel plans. What are the start and end times for the program?

Programs in Kingston - Registration and reception begins at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. The in-class program starts 5:00 p.m. The program finishes at noon on Friday.

Programs outside Kingston - Registration for these programs runs from 8:00 AM - 8:30 a.m. on the first day. The program starts at 8:30 a.m. and finishes at noon on the last day.

If I am working towards a Queen's IRC Certificate, which course should I take first?

You may take the programs in any order that reflects your learning needs at the time. Our certificates feature a core program or programs that introduce you to what we consider the core competencies of the field. The remaining programs offer a deeper exploration of each area. For this reason, we find that participants in the certificate stream benefit most by taking the foundational program first.

My level of expertise is above the foundational program for the certificate I am working on. Do I still need to take that program to earn a certificate?

Queen's IRC offers participants maximum flexibility to customize their individual training needs. Upon request, participants with advanced expertise may skip the foundational program, and choose another program from our entire program lineup, for credit towards a certificate. Participants must earn 12 credits to earn a certificate.

How long do I have to complete a certificate?

We attach no timeline for achieving your certificate. Once you have earned a credit, you have earned the credit. We do recommend, however, that participants complete their certificate within one to six years. Most people earn their certificates within three years.

What if I want to take one of your programs but do not want to pursue a certificate?

That's fine. All of our programs may be taken individually, and you can mix and match the courses in labour relations, human resources and organization development, depending on your learning needs. At the conclusion of each program, you are given a certificate of completion.

I have taken a custom program with the IRC.  Will this count towards a certificate?

Yes. Participants who take an IRC custom program may also use their training days as credits towards a certificate.

If I have other questions, who may I speak with personally?

For a program registration query, please feel free to call us at 1-888-858-7838 or 613-533-6628. To reach the Director and staff members, consult our online directory. To reach one of our facilitators, please contact Stephanie Noel at 613-533-6000 ext. 77088 or