Top 10 Best Negotiations of 2014 – Really??

I was quite excited when I saw this advertised on Twitter: Top 10 Best Negotiations of 2014: Negotiation Case Studies Drawn from Negotiation Examples in Real Life. That was because not only is the topic interesting, but it comes from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. Harvard was the alma mater of course to Getting to Yes, still the most important book on business negotiation ever written. And no, I didn't realise at first it was 2014 because the article appears to have been published just recently!

Anyway, it is worth a comment or two, although the list itself turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, and not just because of the date. First of all, some of the negotiations did not seem to be successful in any real sense, so how could they be “the best”? For example:

"The award for the most brazen negotiating move of 2014 goes to the National Football League negotiators who tried to convince performers like Coldplay, Rihanna, and Katy Perry that they should pay for the right to play the 2015 halftime show. “I’m not the kind of girl who would pay to play the Super Bowl,” Perry let it be known before the NFL signed her on to a more straightforward deal".

And even where arguably there was more success on show, there is no real analysis of why the negotiation worked , or even when only one or both parties gained, or how the professional reader can learn anything or apply winning ideas to their own situation.

The best example,  in that there is a bit of learning to be gathered from it, is probably the release of Bowe Bergdahl.

Some members of Congress were sharply critical of the Obama administration’s decision to negotiate a prisoner swap with the Taliban that involved trading U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But by demonstrating the power of patient and methodical negotiation to resolve tense situations, the talks serve as a reminder that there can be advantages to engaging with the enemy”.

However, you can also download a special report, Negotiation Skills: Negotiation Strategies and Negotiation Techniques to Help You Become a Better Negotiator, from the Program on Negotiation. We did so, and that proved to be a much more useful and interesting document. We recommend it, and may well come back to discuss it further shortly.

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