Negotiation – A Greek Tragedy? Part 3

We are delighted to publish the concluding part of "A Greek Tragedy" trilogy from Michael Campbell, an experienced consultant with an area of specialism in negotiation training. In Acts 1 and 2, he covered Power and People, with a definition of a “Greek Tragedy” in the context of being metaphorical with the events (supposed “Negotiations”) between the Euro Zone and the Greek Government. In Acts 2 and 3, he covers Ploys and Persuasion.  

Act Five – Process

Greek tragedy 5Aristotle’s Plot Structure has provided the basis for most dramatic, literary and other works for centuries and it is still widely used today. The concept of a “Beginning, Middle and End” seems so obvious, but as with so many things, what is obvious in quiet reflective moments is worringly elusive in times of pressure, stress and competition (sound like a post-negotiation review?). In the recent Greek/Euro Zone negotiations was there any recognisable “Beginning, Middle and End?”  Did parties supposedly on the “same side” - let alone on the opposite side - even have the same, or similar, “End” in mind?

Aristotle recognised the need and developed the process to “move” his audience from “Start Point” to “Resolution.” He also understood and used the aspects of “Causes and Effects” throughout the process with the varying emphasis by the “Players” at the different stages. The topic of “Causes and Effects” is an interesting one for negotiation. Put simply, “why are we negotiating and what is it trying to achieve?

Greek tragedy 4This is a useful basis for starting one’s preparation and it is worth addressing this aspect from the orientations of “Initiator and Responder.” It is likely that the respective parties will have differing focus, and views on, the apparent and real “Causes and Effects” involved! So, in the Greek/Euro Zone context – how widely different were the perceptions of the “Causes and Effects” and the respective reactions to them?

We at Negotiation Resource International (NRI) coach a six-stage process designed to provide a structure which will enable pro-active management of your Negotiation activities. This process  will support you through those times of pressure and stress, and enable you to perform, be agile and responsive. It is vital to remember that you must be in charge of the process not hidebound by, nor servile to it. A sound process enables people to negotiate – and it is people who negotiate.


There has been so much built upon the knowledge, culture and intellect of Ancient Greece which still contributes to our lives today, so in the spirit of this we have:

The Parthenon (House) of Negotiation:

  • Built on the Akropolis (Foundation) of Power – perceived balances, sources and types
  • With the Pillars (Doric/Ionic?) of People, Ploys, Persuasion and Process

Creating a building that can stand the tests and ravages of time, let alone the behaviours of buyers, sellers and others! -- a place where you can meet with people and hopefully move from those initially divergent positions to achieve an agreed, equitable outcome.

If the appropriate work is put into designing and constructing your “House of Negotiation” you will have a set of resources, skills and expertise to deploy in your Negotiation activities  to deliver the objectives which you desire. But please remember, Negotiation is “a people thing,” no matter how well designed and beautifully built your house is – if there are no appropriate people at home - then is is just an empty (pretty?) building.

Greek tragedy 3

So - the "Morals" from the play:

α. People negotiate

β. Build a House of Negotiation to support and enable them

¥. Try to avoid a “tragic” lose-lose outcome!

Ευχαριστώ για το χρόνο σας, καλύτερες ευχές

Michael Campbell

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