Was intrigued the other day to hear that someone was going to speak on how to negotiate to win. I decided to attend: The speaker was articulate, but as he went on, I realized his methods involved using a clever head and not a compassionate heart.

As I listened, I found that people were just ‘pawns on a chessboard’, and that’s exactly what I see today in most deals, where strategy or cunning is used through guile to control situations, both in business and elsewhere.

It’s like we’re all sheep, misled with expertly woven lassos expertly used by cowboys to herd us into a pen. Feelings don’t matter, friendships and just meant to be exploited! The aim, to control the mind with clever formulas.

Let’s get back to the speaker: He’s speaking of a ‘negotiating situation’, and let’s pretend, you’ve crept into the hall with me, “A man,” he says, ‘wants to sell his old car. He knows it’s not worth more than fifty thousand rupees, but decides he’ll put an ad asking for fifty-five thousand! Just before he places that ad, a close friend approaches him, and says he’s heard the car is for sale, and would like to buy it for sixty-five thousand!”

I listened with quickened interest, as he gave the options to us in the hall, “You can,” said the speaker, “Tell your friend, to wait for the ad, or accept the price your friend offers, or haggle over the price!”

I wondered whether the word, ‘haggle’ meant to tell his friend that it was too high a price he’d offered and that the car was worth much less, and was initially happy when the speaker mentioned that ‘haggling’ was the correct answer. But, in a moment my happiness turned to shock, “Haggling,” he said, “is telling your friend that his offer of sixty-five thousand is too low, and instead that seventy-thousand is what you were expecting! Then you put your arms around his shoulder and tell him, that because he’s a friend, you’ll settle for sixty-nine thousand!”

“Finally,” said the speaker, speaking on how to negotiate, “You can settle for sixty-eight thousand!”

I watched with sadness the clever art of deceptive negotiation being taught to innocent people!

Didn’t the esteemed speaker realize it was not negotiation about the price for a car but about the value of friendship? That what was at stake was truth, and what had been sold was integrity?

I know, if I was selling an old car of mine, I would be all the more careful to see a friend was warned it was old, and that I would even lower the price, to include the risks of breakdowns or worn out parts because I valued his or her friendship more than profits I’d get.

Let us negotiate without compromising on integrity, because no amount of negotiations later will bring back the trust we lose..!

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