Gearing for Battle: Ancient Warrior Wisdom for Negotiation
Tan Pan: The Chinese-English Journal on Negotiation, Vol. 2
10 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2016 Last revised: 16 Dec 2016
Date Written: December 9, 2016
This article examines the art of negotiation through the lens of three ancient texts from diverse cultures: the Bhagavad Gita from Hinduism, The Art of War from the Chinese culture, and the Torah from Judaism. As these texts come from distinct traditions and from different parts of the world, it might be assumed there exists no common ground between them. Yet, each of these texts is designed to give leaders advice about conflict. In fact, there are allusions in all three texts to avoiding war, being just, and offering mercy. Sun Tzu has perhaps the most well-known aphorisms in Chapter 3 of The Art of War - “to subdue the enemy's army without a war indicates superlative wisdom” and “a good strategist should bring the enemy to his knees without staging a war.”
Of course the focus on war raises questions of applicability in peace-making and in negotiation. Ostensibly, these texts may seem more applicable to litigation or distributive negotiation. (And, in fact, both The Art of War and the Torah devote significant attention to deception of the enemy.) After delving deeper, however, it is readily apparent that the wisdom provided in each text provides advice that can be utilized in peace-making and in integrative (or problem-solving) negotiation. After providing a brief introduction to the texts, this article examines four lessons common to all.
Keywords: negotiation, dispute resolution, problem-solving, integrative negotiation, self-awareness, context, cultures
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