The Golden Assumption

In all my years of negotiations with parties from large MNCs, government agencies, and universities to negotiations with my 20-month-old son, I've learnt one thing: for any negotiation to have a high chance of success, the following assumption, which I call "The Golden Assumption" must be made:

Everyone is reasonable.

This may seem like a trivial point but it opens the door to real communication, which is essential for any negotiation.

When we apply the Golden Assumption, we would strive to understand the other party's point of view even if their demands seem unreasonable at the moment; most of the time, we'll realise they are not unreasonable afterall if we just take the effort to understand them!

But without the Golden Assumption, most people would simply activate their defenses and/or offences to "counter" the other party's demands and this would probably lead to a lose-lose situation - losing both goodwill and the deal itself!

Of course, the Golden Assumption may not hold true all the time because I believe there are people who are really unreasonable - fortunately, I have not met such people yet:-)


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