I was at a conference not long ago and was struck by a comment made by a colleague. She said that she often thought of negotiation as a ballet. It was a beautiful dance when done by an expert but woefully awful when done by an amateur.
This got me thinking. It is undoubtedly a beautiful analogy but is there something to it? Certainly, with good choreography (planning), hard work and constant practice, the negotiation dance can be beautiful. A parry here, a debate there, a conditional proposal and, finally, the crescendo: a bargain.
However, becoming a professional ballet dancer strikes me as a somewhat unattainable goal for most of us. You need an enormous amount of ability to start with to get anywhere near good enough to perform a real ballet dance.
Negotiation is not so elitist. Anyone can join the negotiation dance. You don't need talent, just an ability to learn and an enthusiasm to practice regularly to make you better.
It wouldn't matter how hard I tried, how hard I worked and practiced, I could never be a ballet dancer, but through dedication to the subject I believe I have become a great negotiator. And so can you. Let's dance!