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Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

The Priceless Art of Negotiating

Getting whatever you want, whenever you want at whichever price you want

That has been described as the best illustration of what a successful negotiation means. It would be a conundrum to come up with a more elaborate and precise dichotomy of what a successful negotiation entails to. While it is true that negotiations have a flip side known as “compromise”, the overall success of any negotiation is judged on how much less ground is conceded in the process.

There are multiple examples in history that serve to further solidify the earlier assertion. From the Treaty of Versailles to the return of Steve Jobs to Apple, successful negotiations tend to alter the course of history. That is precisely the reason why it’s more of an art rather than a science. There’s no magic formula to produce worthwhile results neither a secret spell. There are only two ways to be really good at negotiating; either practice until you become good at it or be naturally gifted in it.

While being born with this talent would be no less than a minor miracle, it is possible to become good at it if you put your mind to it or become an expert by enrolling for negotiation courses. Apart from any other field, in the business world negotiations are something you’ll come across at various levels with their own unique requirements. If you’re a client, you’ll want a fairer cost while if you’re the supplier, you’ll want extra money for your labour and if you’re a corporate lawyer, you’ll have to liaise with multiple corporations to meet their expectations as well as maintain your own firm’s reputation.

It is a skill that determines the ecology of the business world. One minor change in this gigantic system has the potential to disrupt, alter and transform the entire setup. Think of something as simple and minute as oil prices. If the union managers of the rig workers get a pay rise for the workers; the companies will have to charge higher prices to cover up their increase in expense, this will lead to an increase in oil prices which will similarly hit the stock market and pretty soon, everyday household items will see an increase in prices too. This is due to transporters citing the increased gas prices for costlier transportation costs for the goods. It’s a vicious and conniving circle.

This should have become apparent by now that there is no place for emotions or softness in this particular field. While the phrase “hunt or be hunted” is too crude to be used here, it isn’t that off the mark. The individuals that most corporations choose to represent them in negotiations are usually lawyers that have decades worth of experience in dealing with similar cases. Nothing is ever left to chance.

This is the point where the art of negotiation truly begins to exhibit its beauty.

For anyone that doubts how much these hours of negotiations can change history, it was a team of lawyers and their relentlessness work that got Mark Zuckerberg to reach a settlement with the Winklevoss Twins. It was similarly a discussion table where representatives of the world met after the end of the Second World War and decided on the path they were going to take in making the world a better place for future generations.

A successful negotiation is the product of creativity, timing, awareness and the ability to retain control over your temper and senses at crucial moments. Mind games are a staple and unsaid rule of negotiations. In a demented way, it is part of the reason which makes the entire process so intriguing.

It’s also the reason that makes negotiation a timeless art.

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