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Art or science?

Florence Kennedy Rolland, Lead Tutor

Faculty Blog

Donald Trump has caused a bit of a Twitter controversy with his recent tweet.

Is negotiation an Art? One of the replies he received stated “Art requires talent.  I prefer to think of negotiation as something that can be learned and perfected.”

I think it is both. Some people are born with a natural ability to negotiate.  They can make deals, barter, trade and do business with utmost ease.  To them it is not a skill learned, but something they can do as easily as breathe.  They can dazzle you with tales of their deals – unimaginable bravado leading to amazing success. Of course they don’t tell you about the deals that don’t do so well…

The rest of us are not quite so fortunate, but can be just as good negotiators – with practice, learning and more practice. By following the 4-phase process we can achieve great deals that build relationships, results and success.  Using the If..Then conditionality principle we can balance our trades, ensuring the other party gets something from the deal, while we strengthen our position and forge a deal that works for us.  Tapping into Interests gives us scope to understand what is important, and why, and helps us broaden the focus of the deal to help avoid deadlock.

I recently heard someone compare negotiation to a “Ballet”. A beautiful analogy.  There are steps that may seem dazzling and impossible for the audience to grasp, but with practice and dedication they can be learned.  Perhaps we cannot all dance as well, and as beautifully, as a prima ballerina, but I think we can at least learn enough steps to dance to the music and successfully complete the story.

What do you think? Is negotiation an art or a science?