Michele Huff
Michele Huff

Humans are always looking to make deals. Whether it's negotiating a new job with a human resources director, working out an agreement with our kids or aging parents, a car pool or a way to share the office refrigerator, embarking on a tricky business deal or even a complex real estate agreement, humans are wheeling and dealing.

The way you approach the transaction can make all the difference between satisfaction and simmering resentment. Huff's Continuing Education course and book will help you direct the outcome.

UNM attorney Michele Huff's Continuing Education course and book teaches students how to negotiate a way through the difficult problems of life and can help you direct the outcome this summer. Her course, Transformative Negotiation, at UNM’s Continuing Education Building, begins on June 23.

The course is based on her book “The Transformative Negotiator,” is available at local bookstores, or her publisher’s website, or Amazon.com.

Huff is an attorney at UNM and has decades of experience in negotiating business transactions. She was born and raised in New York City, attending Lyçee Français de New York and Brearley School. She graduated from Colorado College and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University magna cum laude. 

Huff practiced intellectual property law and says she learned the art of transactional work at a firm in Palo Alto, Calif. She negotiated her way into a job at Sun Microsystems where she practiced drafting and negotiating a variety of technology agreements, including knowing when to walk away. Over the years she says she has come to understand there is much more to a negotiation than just the exchange.

“There are a lot of elements of negotiation that have nothing to do with the transaction, but will facilitate coming to an agreement,” she says. "I view that as a skill that applies both in business and in your personal life, in parenting relationships, in spousal relationships. Anytime you have a negotiation happening that’s based on the interdependence of human beings, you have the ability to be transformative in the way you negotiate.”

Breaking down the elements of a negotiation
Huff offers a roadmap for negotiation – everything from preparation for a deal to handling the fallout when your negotiating partner gets emotional or angry. Huff says, “We are really talking about building long-lasting relationships. You’ve got to take into account the human connection, either the connection that you already have or that you have to create. That’s the only way you are going to make it work once you’ve signed the deal.”

In the class she plans to show students how to break down the components of a negotiation, and to understand how they fit together into the whole. “Some people are really good communicators but they might not be very good at managing the emotional aspects," Huff said. "Some people might be great at managing the emotions, but they might not be so good at being creative about where to find leverage.”

As a practicing Buddhist, Huff offers a different, more holistic way of thinking about negotiations. She says she’s learned not to use traditional negotiation theory in her approach. Part of the course will be showing people how to operate more mindfully.  

For people looking for a way to dial down the stress of everyday transactions with the world, this course may offer a way out of the box.