A Negotiation in Middlemarch
32 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2020
Date Written: September 14, 2020
We analyse a negotiation drawn from George Eliot’s great novel Middlemarch: A story of provincial life. Eliot was one of the finest chroniclers of social interaction, and understood the process of negotiation and its role in the community perhaps as well as anyone. The negotiation in question is between a wealthy banker and one of his former associates who sets out (or perhaps just ends up) blackmailing him. We use this case to discuss a wide range of negotiation principles, and show how it provides insights into the importance of the prenegotiation, the role of preparation, empathy and the fostering of relationships (even when you would prefer not to), and the problems of focusing on one’s own BATNA rather than your counterparts’. We conclude with six key negotiation lessons for the fictional negotiator (and for us), and with a brief account of how both fictional and “non-fictional” negotiations can contribute to our understanding of how to learn about and improve negotiation practice.
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