Negotiation Mastery Blog

The Origins of Negotiation…I Think

Negotiation began in 2374BC.

This is when Noah agreed a covenant with God. If you add up the ages of all of the Enochs and the Enoshes, the Hams, the Sheps and the Japheths, and the Methuselahs and the Melchisedechs, and you include all the begets and the begats, you can very clearly pinpoint it to this year. Day and month is more tricky.

I have checked with Richard Dawkins and he agrees.

However, I can’t help but think a trick was missed earlier: when Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden. I am really surprised they didn’t negotiate! The Garden of Eden sounds a pretty nice place and you wouldn’t necessarily want to give it up without a fight.

Personally, I would have advised them to go back with an offer of a 50-50 arrangement. Or maybe weekends only. At least be allowed to visit on holiday. They might have to throw a few sweeteners in – sign a contract they would leave it really tidy, maybe even offer to mow the lawn or something. It would have been worth it.

Now, negotiating with God is quite tricky. For a start, he is omnipotent and, although he is largely a merciful God, if you upset him, the downside are the eternal fires of Hell and that is pretty bad.

What’s more, he is omniscient, too. He knows what you’re thinking. You can’t pull any sneaky tricks on him, he’ll know.

But come on, he must be a reasonable God. In which case, you can only ask, can’t you?

Obviously, the laws have evolved since those days and are a lot more in favour of the tenant than they used to be. God didn’t need an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement or anything. He just said “Henceforth begone” and sent them forth.

These days, he’ wouldn’t find it quite so easy. For a start, Adam and Eve would probably get advice from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and they might qualify for Legal Aid (I’m not sure what their earnings were). God, who owned both the heaven and the earth, would have to pay for his own lawyers.

Even if everything went to plan, he would have to give a month’s notice, then serve a Section 21, then go to court and, if he had a good case and it wasn’t thrown out on a technicality, the bailiffs would be sent around and remove Adam and Eve and their belongings. He would probably have to get a locksmith to change the locks too in case they tried to sneak back in.

So times have changed since then but there we have it – the origins of negotiation in all its truth and historical veracity.

A merciful God, a reasonable God and, I do hope, one with a good sense of humour.