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The art of the deal

“It is not at all clear to me what a negotiation is. Union and management, say, terrorist and foreign minister, buyer and seller, kidnapper and F.B.I. agent, husband and wife, at least two parties anyway, disagree. They exchange views. A strike, perhaps, a war, a bankruptcy, a murder, a divorce impends. One side begins, and claims it can accept no less. The other responds, saying it can afford no more. It is clear to both sides, from the start, that both positions are false. They proceed to bargain then, in what is called good faith. Bad faith exists when a side takes both positions to be absolutely true, then deals with something other than negotiation in its heart—stalling for time, for instance, so that friends can arrive and bomb the house. Good faith negotiation requires a liar’s margin of some sort. ‘I can’t stand it,’ somebody says. ‘I can’t help it,’ someone else replies.” – Renata Adler, Speedboat

Published inEconomicsPolitics & LawRenata Adler

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