K.Rohner's Blog -www.krohner.ch-

The Sunloungers at the Beach of Rimini (one) – 1020

Posted on: 7. Juli 2010

Talking about the nature of negotiations many people think in terms of rhetoric’s in direct exchange of reasoning. This direct face to face negotiation is an extreme form of communication. The dividing line between the communication and negotiation is very thin and hard to draw.

I became a witness of a discussion of two tourists on a bar on the beach of Rimini. The topic was rather casual and a kind of small talk. They exchanged their views and ideas of the best sun loungers to occupy on the beach. One of them said he prefers to have them at rather remote place with some trees nearby. Especially after a hard night partying so he could recharge during the day. The other was also concerned about is nights, but wanted to meet some lady friends during the day, he would then propose to have dinner and enjoy the night with. He preferred the sunloungers near the bar, so he could have an eye on the female guests of the bar and move towards them if he thought he could connect with one of them. He called a row of five sunloungers the best “observation lounger”.

This is a form of a casual conversation just to exchange opinions and not really a negotiation.

The next day I observed from the very same spot two men having a rather loud exchange of words on the side of the row observation loungers. One of them was pale and his white body showing he had not been exposed to the sun. The other was well tanned and dark. It seemed to be an argument between a new comer and a habitué of the beach. Obviously they were disputing over occupying the last left lounger. This was not a casual talk but communication directed to pursue an interest. Each of them claimed to have the right to occupy the lounger. Since words alone did not help they started to posture their physical capabilities to impress each other. As the voices became louder the guy renting the sun loungers moved quickly towards them. He was not to be missed with a red hat and dressed all white with a big black purse hanging in front his six-pack. He immediately took command of the communication and spoke to each of the disputants separately. First he interrogated the dark guy and listened carefully, insisting that he was not interrupted by the white guy standing on the side and intervening vividly. He then turned to the new guy on the beach and elaborated his version and view of the situation.

This dispute on a particular lounger on the beach by the dark and the white guy is not a small talk. In this situation the interest to occupy this particular observation lounger is the driving force of communication which in fact is a negotiation. Interests do not need to be rational. Very often it happens to be the case that people do start disputes not because of the item under discussion, but rather out of personal emotional reasons. They are subconsciously driven to give another person of random choice a hard time. There are many reasons for this. May be in the case of an incidence in the morning on the hotel table or even the night before. But the two guys verbally contesting the rights seemed to have rather clear reasons.

Now the rental guy with the purse is not actually negotiating just for himself but brokering a settlement between the two men. This is the work of a mediator.

Negotiation is adding the dimension of orientation towards some kind of interest to the mere form of communication. Negotiation is therefore always interest based, even though the interest may be conscious or subconscious reaction of person.

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