Can you imagine a world without “agreements” – an agreement to resolve conflicts or differences, an agreement to do business, an agreement to live together, an agreement to buy something, an agreement to build something, or, an agreement not to do something or a promise not to harm someone? Impossible to imagine.
Agreements may not be a necessary or a sufficient condition of life, but they are a necessary condition of our business, community, collaborative and social existence. Can’t imagine our lives without them.
The only way to an Agreement is through the process of negotiation – a complex process through which parties engage in multiple discussions to find their zone of agreements or resolutions. Theoretically, negotiation is a mechanical process of discussions but what is often underestimated is the “mind set” underlying the process of negotiation. If parties do not approach the process with an underlying desire to find a solution or agreement, pure mechanics of discussions will take you further away from an “agreement” – potentially, more discord, more conflicts, more disagreements.
It is for this reason; negotiation is part Science and part Art – it requires a “mind” or may be a “heart” that desires to find a solution or resolution. Without the right emotion, mind frame and a desire to agree, no amount of intelligence or sophisticated processes will ever culminate into peaceful co-existence, collaboration, alliances, joint ventures, business, etc.
We have often witnessed boardroom fights, divorce negotiations, contract negotiations, cross border disputes, political conflicts that have undergone hundreds of man hours and discussions without any resolution. Often, parties coming out of failed negotiations will attribute failure to unreasonableness of the other party or the long-drawn process. This, when contrasted with successful negotiations, will bring out the stark contrast of the attitude or mindset of the parties. The stronger the desire to find a solution the shorter the negotiation and quicker the agreement.
No amount of streamlined process can negate the psychology of negotiation that is embedded in the “mind set” of the parties to negotiation.