Saturday, November 19, 2011

61. Argumentative, no more!

Parents of teenage children unequivocally confirm that 'today's children may be poor communicators but are smart negotiators'. Gone are the days when a kid will take his father's 'no' for going to a 'movie' on its face value. The teenager today will negotiate hard and have his/her say nine-out-of-ten times. So be it, as the power of negotiation gives teenager that extra edge for building a future in a highly competitive market-driven world.

Negotiation is different from being 'argumentative', which most Indians always have been. Arguments are essential for a (un)healthy conversation; for getting across divergent viewpoints and for making one's presence felt. Amartya Sen would have more on it but for convenience sake let it be clear that 'argument' often doesn't lead us anywhere but for satisfying bloated egos of those embroiled in an argument. Good or bad, it is a cultural trait that we have come to live with, perhaps for generations!

Clearly, negotiation is an American trait that we Indians have conveniently adapted or copied. Without doubt, Americans are not only born negotiators but born salesmen too. But the question is: how did they 'sell' the idea of 'negotiation' to us? A social-anthropologist turned psychologist tells me that it comes packaged with fast food and aerated drinks. Art of negotiation gets into you with each bite of a burger and a gulp of coke cements it further.

Try it out if my argument is getting better of you!

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