Why negotiate?

Why do we negotiate?

Everyone does it, but why? Wouldn't life be easier without conflict? Wouldn't the world be better off if nation-states didn't compete for resources and land? Is religious intolerance really good for the peoples of the world?

We negotiate to satisfy or protect a need or want. The currency of a negotiation may be wealth, recognition, sex, a diaper change or simply peace from a crying child or whining peer. Negotiation is also the process for seeking world dominance, gaining a competitive advantage, or overpowering an aggressive predator.

Negotiation can take the form of civil discussions, formal debates, open and hostile fighting, marketing campaigns, political caucuses, or simply a baby crying to resolve its discomfort. It is simply the broad-spectrum of human interaction.

Anything we want or need becomes the commodity or currency of a negotiation. We try to improve or avoid some aspect of our lives through forcing a change. Typically such change involves other people though we often negotiate with ourselves when making the decision to do something we don't want to do. Conflict enters the equation when someone else has or wants what we want or we resist the need to do something out of fear, complacency or dread!

The differences between negotiations are the commodities at stake. Babies need to be changed or to be nourished. Captains of industry want more land or power. Men want sex and women need security. Wants and needs vary, personalities vary, settings vary, currencies vary, tactics vary, but the process does not. To satisfy our daily needs and wants we must interact with others; we must negotiate.

We negotiate because we live in a society of people with varying interests. We negotiate to make things better for ourselves, our family, our company and our country. Avarice and greed are only examples of possible root causes for negotiation. Patriotism, pride, ego, and concern for those we love and care for also are drivers of negotiations. It is not negotiation or conflict that is good or bad; it is the behavior of the participants.

Knowing that you have no choice but to negotiate why not embrace the process as a natural aspect of life? If conflict is a natural state it should not be feared. It should be considered like riding a bike or driving a car. To get where you want to go you need to climb on board the negotiating train and buy an E-ticket.