Negotiation Case Studies April 15, 2009

Can You Negotiate With Pirates?

Blackbeard may long be dead but piracy is alive and well (and on the upswing) in the seas off Somalia. And why not? Somalian pirates are able to take over unarmed ships and hold expensive cargo and crew hostage in return for ransom. Easy money for the pirates since most commercial ships carry hijacking/piracy insurance and are able to pay out high sums. Until last week, the pirates were winning. The shipping companies were forced to negotiate with the pirates in order to return their crew and vessels.

Last week, pirates attempted to hijack the Maersk Alabama, and were able to take its captain, Richard Phillips, hostage. The pirates demanded more than a million dollars in ransom money for his return. In Captain Phillips’ case, negotiations seemed to break down and finally, the Navy SEALS were deployed to save him. Why did this situation have to be resolved by force? Why did the negotiations fail?

  • No common ethical background A common ethical background is essential in conducting negotiations. In a typical business negotiation, for instance one involving a sales contract, both parties share an understanding of contract law and moreover, have a shared sense of consequences if said law is broken. Pirates, on the other hand, are not known for their ethical behavior. By engaging in piracy and hijacking, pirates have already shown a disregard for laws and ethics, and prove that they have no fear of consequences.
  • No room for compromise When pirates "negotiate" there is no room for compromise because it becomes a zero-sum game. Either money exchanges hands or someone gets killed. When there is no middle ground, no amount of negotiating skill will help.
  • Unequal footing Negotiations often seek to find a mutually acceptable price for a transaction. How can you put a price on a life? How much is too much or too little? For the family of a hostage, there can be no price that is too high--a life is always more precious than money. And the pirates know this.

THE PROGRAM WAS GREAT! MY SEMINAR LEADER AND THE STRUCTURE OF THE COURSE KEPT ME CONSTANTLY STIMULATED. I NOW AM BETTER PREPARED TO GO INTO AN IMPORTANT NEGOTIATION MEETING AND STAY IN CONTROL, WHILE FINISHING THE MEETING SATISFIED.

Deanna D.
CASE MANAGER at THE JACKSON LABORATORY

IF YOU HAVE THE TRAINING BUDGET AND TWO DAYS TO SPARE, YOU'LL STRUGGLE TO FIND A PROGRAM MORE FAR-REACHING, ON-POINT, AND INSTANTLY IMPLEMENTABLE.

Jeff G.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER at THE M.K. MORSE COMPANY

EXCELLENT COURSE, BRINGS MORE CONFIDENCE IN MY ABILITY TO NEGOTIATE. I THINK THIS COURSE IS A MUST FOR ALL EMPLOYEES WHO DEAL WITH CUSTOMERS.

John S.
CHIEF ENGINEERING MANAGER at EXXONMOBIL

THIS WAS VERY EFFECTIVE WITH A STRONG FOCUS ON BOTH-WIN NEGOTIATING.

Kathleen L.
SENIOR ANALYST at BLUE CROSS/BLUE SHIELD OF MICHIGAN

THE KARRASS CLASS WAS THE SINGLE BEST TRAINING CLASS/SEMINAR I HAVE EVER ATTENDED. EVERY TIME WE DID AN EXERCISE IT TAUGHT YOU WHAT TO DO DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME. THANKS.

Kim C.
PROCUREMENT at AMERICAN EXPRESS

THIS PROGRAM HAS GREATLY INCREASED MY CONFIDENCE AND ABILITY TO NEGOTIATE FOR MYSELF AS WELL AS MY COMPANY.

LaDonna E.
SENIOR STRATEGIC BUYER at HALLMARK

THE NEGOTIATING CLASS WAS VERY INFORMATIVE. THE INSTRUCTOR PROVIDED AN INSPIRATIONAL MESSAGE THAT CAN BE APPLIED TO EVERYDAY LIFE.

Mary S.
INTERNATIONAL SOURCING at FMC TECHNOLOGIES

WE NEGOTIATE EVERY DAY OF OUR LIVES, BOTH PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY. THIS COURSE DEFINES THE PROCESS AND PROVIDES TECHNIQUES TO ACHIEVE SUCCESSFUL RESULTS.

Phillip H.
VICE PRESIDENT at GE

PRIOR TO THIS CLASS I FELT AS THOUGH I WAS GETTING EATEN ALIVE BY INTERNAL NEGOTIATIONS WITH SALES REPS. NOW I FEEL PREPARED TO CHALLENGE WHAT THEY ARE SAYING AND BET TO THEIR REAL NEEDS.

Steve Q.
PLANNER at HONEYWELL

MANY PEOPLE FAIL TO ACHIEVE THEIR POTENTIAL BECAUSE THEY DON’T SEE THE OPPORTUNITIES TO NEGOTIATE A WIN/WIN AGREEMENT WITH THEIR COLLEAGUES. THIS CLASS IS AN EYE OPENER TO THIS DYNAMIC..

Stuart B.
CONTRACTS MANAGER at HEWLETT-PACKARD
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