The concept of negotiation has always been with us. Right from the initial stage of human development in the family, to the workplace and subsequently to the complex world of communities or States. Negotiation has played a pivotal role in shaping  people as well as societies. The inherent common denominator is the desire to see an end of a looming crisis or conflict/dispute. It is actually all about conceding on certain principles initially held onto.  In the words of Mahatma Gandhi

All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take

on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is surrender.

For it is all give and take.

However, not everyone is willing to engage in ‘give and take’. Why is this, the simple reason would be that of pride. Most people want to be victors and because the ego is involved reasoning is absent. This actually in all fairness should be present and encouraged. As a result of ego, conflicts/disputes degenerate into court processes. Mostly because parties eventually want a resolution; and at the same time want to show some strength of power. There is always the need to resolve the conflict/dispute regardless of who started the dispute. In as much as court processes are expensive and time-consuming, parties find it psychologically better because it gives the initiator and eventually the winner of a court case an upper arm in the interim. Negotiation does not only mean give and take, it does to a large extent represent maturity amongst the parties. Similarly, in the words of Abraham Lincoln.

Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbours to compromise whenever

you can. As a peacemaker the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man.

There will still be business enough.

Consistently, negotiation has shown as the singular act that helps in the resolution of conflicts/dispute irrespective of what the dispute is all about. The social revolution that swept through North Africa and the Middle East took place in the various countries because the  leaders which includes  Ali of Tunisia, Mubarak of Egypt, Gaddafi of Libya and to some extent Assad of Syria found it difficult to negotiate and obviously found their end undesirable; except Assad of Syria whose end is yet unknown, although its been reported he entered a negotiation with Mr Kofi Annan early March 2012. Mr Kofi Annan had a plan when he went to Syria  to which Mr Assad agreed to, unfortunately fighting continues.

The various leaders ousted by force could have left the office with some dignity if only they had exercised restraint and caution.

Negotiation includes a number of factors, namely compromise, tactics, patience, positive attitude, credibility and maturity. Although lot more factors do play a part in having a good negotiation. The listed criteria for a negotiation are based on the basics for a simple negotiation. Disputes/conflicts occur purely as a result of a breakdown in negotiation. It is obvious a party can not be compelled to negotiate; the fundamentals must exist for there to be a chance of success.

It is the responsibility of the initiator to ensure the platform is conducive for negotiation. In an example which illustrates the power of negotiation and its advantages; the production of working nuclear weapon by Pyongyang regime in North Korea. Mr Bill Clinton, former president of the United States of America did enter a dialogue with the government of North Korea in the production of nuclear weapon. What resulted was the ability to contain efforts of the Pyongyang regime in North Korean in the production of working nuclear weapons by the Clinton administration. At the end both parties felt satisfied with its outcome. According to Global Asia of Journal of the East Asia Foundation Volume 3 Number 2 2008, the negotiation that occurred between the Clinton government and the Pyongyang regime helped strengthen relations between the two countries.

It is often stated that leaders are good negotiators. That to some extent is arguable. Obviously, in the course of leadership,the leaders will be expected to negotiate positively to achieve desired goals. According to the Harvard Law School in its Negotiation program, certain factors are instrumental to the achievement of a good negotiation. These factors when combined effectively achieve excellent results. They include working within a relatively small bargaining power/zone, an ability to obtain good results when up against oppressive deadlines and finally the ability to deal with difficult people and situations with minimum problems. The application of these factors according to studies shows the  result is seemingly an  effortless negotiation between the parties.

Would you consider the leaders of States in the 21st century as good negotiators?