Buddha and Negotiation Skills


Buddha, in one of his discourse underlines how Negotiation can be done, I am yet to get any other master of management even define negotiation skills like Buddha talks about. He says
‘‘भोगे संहरमानस्स, भमरस्सेव इरीयतो। भोगा सन्निचयं यन्ति, वम्मिकोवुपचीयति॥
this could mean honey is the outcome, like a bee the negotiator should be in relationship with flowers. The bee gains from the flower and the flower remains as radiant as ever after the bee has visited. The bee doesn’t buzz off and leaves the flower in absolute wreck or ruins it. The aroma of flower remains as it is, the negotiator has just taken the essence of flower and converted it in Honey.

DSC00176During negotiation one faces many issues, like how will I know what’s going on in the mind of other party/ person etc., which reminds me of another metaphor given by Buddha. While Buddha informs his disciples about such unknown skillfulness he says सचित्तपरियायकुसलो भविस्सामी, meaning – who is not skilled in the ways of others’ minds? ‘I will be skilled in the ways of my own mind.
Suggesting “ask your own mind, it would reflect the same”. When his disciple asked him “how to do this”? Buddha smilingly replies – It is just as if a woman or a man—young, youthful, and fond of ornaments—would look at her or his own facial reflection in a clean bright mirror or in a bowl of clear water. If they see any dust or blemish there, they will make an effort to remove it. But if they do not see any dust or blemish there, they will be glad about it; and their wish fulfilled, they will think, ‘How fortunate that I’m clean!’
This is same as modern management thinkers keep emphasizing on principles like… “Maintain Full Disclosure” or “The most important person to know in a negotiation is your-self” or “The value of something is always in the eye of the beholder”
I feel Buddha is the best teacher who can teach us lessons on negotiation. Since throughout his life, he has negotiated with himself, others, his disciples, kings, adversaries, challengers and situations.

twa_webex_monksdebate-10In Tipitaka under Samyutta Nikaya comes a discourse of Bhuddha to his disciples called as Magga-vibhanga Sutta: An Analysis of the Path. When I read this sutta and traced parallel between negotiation skills. Buddha advises his disciples over 8 paths. One who follows these principles in negotiation would be a successful negotiator. We can take them as characteristics of being a great negotiator.

Principle Characteristics Characteristics in the language of Buddha in Pali Characteristics according to modern management experts
Right View One show understands the Problem, knows the origin of problem, looks for cessation of problem, knows ways leading to the cessation of problem दुक्खे ञाणं, दुक्खसमुदये ञाणं, दुक्खनिरोधे ञाणं, दुक्खनिरोधगामिनिया पटिपदाय ञाणं Listening

(Self, Others and situation).

Right Intention Whose intentions are for resolving Issue, intentions of non-ill will. Intents of harmlessness, and one with intention of win-win. नेक्खम्मसङ्कप्पो , अब्यापादसङ्कप्पो, अविहिंसासङ्कप्पो Problem solving intentions
Right Speech One who abstains from false speech, abstinences from divisive speech, harsh speech, doesn’t have idle chatter.

Not shouting, one who do not give false promises or evidences.  Or gives baseless speech.

मुसावादा वेरमणी, पिसुणाय वाचाय वेरमणी, फरुसाय वाचाय वेरमणी, सम्फप्पलापा वेरमणी Effective Speaking
Right Action He restrains from the destruction of life of relationship with person(S) he is dealing with or negotiating. He abstains from taking what is not given, abstinence from any kind of monitory, non monitory advances or sexual favors. Remains within moral and ethical boundaries. पाणातिपाता वेरमणी, अदिन्ना दाना वेरमणी, अब्रह्मचरिया वेरमणी Problem solving
Right Livelihood One who has abandoned – a wrong mode of livelihood or forcefully ending negotiation or becoming too adamant without base just because he wants to win in negotiation. अरियसावको मिच्छाआजीवं पहाय सम्माआजीवेन जीवितं कप्पेति Decision making
Right Efforts Makes Efforts to abandon of arise of evil unwholesome states.

Generates desire for the maintenance of arisen wholesome states, for their non-decay, increase, expansion, and fulfillment by development of stronger relationship.

Makes an effort to arouse energy, to apply mind, and strives for sustained balance.

उप्पन्नातनं कुसलानं धम्मानं ठितिया असम्मोसाय भिय्योभावाय वेपुल्लाेय भावनाय पारिपूरिया छन्दं जनेति वायमति वीरियं आरभति चित्तं पग्गण्हाति पदहति Assertiveness
Right Mindfulness One who dwells contemplating mind in mind, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world.


One who dwells contemplating phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world.

काये कायानुपस्सी विहरति आतापी सम्पजानो सतिमा, विनेय्य लोके अभिज्झादोमनस्सं; वेदनासु वेदनानुपस्सी विहरति आतापी सम्पजानो सतिमा, विनेय्य लोके अभिज्झादोमनस्सं;


चित्ते चित्तानुपस्सी विहरति आतापी सम्पजानो सतिमा, विनेय्य लोके अभिज्झादोमनस्सं; धम्मेसु धम्मानुपस्सी विहरति आतापी सम्पजानो सतिमा, विनेय्य लोके अभिज्झादोमनस्सं

Rapport Building
Right Concentration Buddha Gives 4 stages of Knowledge for concentrating over a subject.
One who is accompanied by thought and examination, with enthusiasm and happiness सवितक्कंल सविचारं विवेकजं पीतिसुखं पठमं झानं उपसम्पज्जन विहरति। Working towards goal without misunderstanding
With the subsiding of thought and examination enter into internal confidence and unification of mind.

With the fading away as well of enthusiasm, being balanced and, mindful and clearly comprehending

वितक्कजविचारानं वूपसमा अज्झत्तं सम्पसादनं चेतसो एकोदिभावं अवितक्कंत अविचारं समाधिजं पीतिसुखं दुतियं झानं उपसम्पज्जो विहरति।
He is balanced, mindful, one who dwells cheerfulness. पीतिया च विरागा उपेक्खको च विहरति सतो च सम्पजानो, सुखञ्चज कायेन पटिसंवेदेति, यं तं अरिया आचिक्खन्ति – ‘उपेक्खको सतिमा सुखविहारी’ति
With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous passing away of joy and displeasure, which is neither painful nor pleasant and includes the purification of mindfulness by balancing win- win status. सुखस्स च पहाना दुक्खस्स च पहाना पुब्बेव सोमनस्सदोमनस्सानं अत्थङ्गमा अदुक्खमसुखं उपेक्खासतिपारिसुद्धिं

DSC02588Modern management experts talks about effective speaking, listening, reducing misunderstanding, rapport building, problem solving, decision making, being strong on your rightful actions and dealing with difficult situation. I feel we can learn many in-depth lessons from the stories of Buddha and his great negotiation skills. More to come… stories of Buddha and his negotiations. Till then enjoy the path explained by Buddha on effective negotiation skills.

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