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How Can Negotiation Be Productive? // Part One \\

There are five negotiating principles which are the driving forces that control our negotiations, whether we’re aware of them or not. Standing alone, they can either induce cooperation or trigger intense conflicts. But when they are combined in practice, and applied as a whole, they create the power to tolerate dissent. The magic of harmony itself lies within the combined force generated by these principles working in concert. A full understanding of the power of negotiation is unlikely when we apply only some of the five component principles.

Negotiation is a purposeful engagement, which requires a proper understanding of scarcity, the first of the five principles. Scarcity by itself engenders dreadful competitiveness; envy, ruthlessness and aggression are their usual byproducts. We generally think about scarcity from an economics viewpoint, and in this market context, scarcity means lack, or limited access to things in demand. It promotes competition and causes us to fight for things in the hands of others. It is a game that ultimately ends with winners and losers, which is why we walk away feeling cheated when we negotiate for alleged scarce resources.

The trouble with this economic viewpoint of scarcity is that it gives no real incentives for fair bargaining. Rational people use their strengths to get their way in competitions. Even when there are rules to be followed, we act selfishly, if we must compete for things in short and dwindling supply. And those who lose cannot be expected to be happy without the resources they need to survive. Reasonable people who would not benefit because they loss a bargain, would not perform according to the terms of a deal that adversely affects their interests. So, why should we believe that negotiations work like free markets work? How can we deal fairly with each other if we have to negotiate as if every important resource we need for life is disappearing?

There’s a limit to the economic logic of supply and demand. It is outside the negotiator’s mind, because the general economic theory of scarcity does not work effectively in realistic human affairs. It may explain our behaviors in theoretical markets broadly, but this explanation of scarcity cannot suffice to maintain long-term relationships. In long-term relationship negotiations, scarcity cannot be about lack. Instead of thinking in terms of lack, we should consider Wallace D. Waddle’s monastic theory of the universe, which he explained in The Science of Getting Rich:

“No one is kept in poverty by lack of riches. There’s enough for all… The visible supply is inexhaustible, and the invisible supply is really inexhaustible. Everything we see on earth is formed from one original substance, out of which all things proceed. New forms are constantly being formed, and solder ones are dissolving. But all are shaped by one thing. There’s no limit to the supply of formless stuff, or original substance. The universe is made out of it. But it was not all used in making the universe. The spaces in, through and between the visible universe are permeated and filled with original substance, with the formless stuff, with the raw materials for all things….”

Therefore, our approach to scarcity should be optimistic, in polemic pursuit of our values with hope. We waste energy thinking about what we lack. Scarcity is not lack, despite the narrow economist viewpoint, universally imposed by fear-minded people. It does not hold true in the long run, because we always discover the alternatives were always with us. No matter what the empirical scientific data tells us, there’s enough stuff to go around ten thousand times over.

© Jeremiah N. Ollennu and www.ollennuandassociates.com, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jeremiah N. Ollennu and www.ollennuandassociates.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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