Negotiations and trust

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My grandparents purchased a plot of land in Africa back in the 1960s to settle there. They never did because of motives now unclear to me. Ownership went over several generations and was finally registered under my uncle’s name until two years ago. Uncle Harry, a businessman who condemned the notion of properties lying unused, thought it wise to sell the property that every family member recognized, but never really made an attempt to build. The traditions of my family allow for consulting before such a big decision is taken, the heirloom being money. My position in the family hierarchy meant I would be a core stakeholder in the negotiation forum that my corporate uncle had called for to convince each of us how selling the land would benefit the family. I found it very difficult to trust Uncle Harry who was on the other side of the negotiation table. On the one hand he had the audacity to sell our heirloom. On the other hand however, he had portrayed allegiance to the family honor of calling for a negotiation. Loyalty is one of the major elements of building trust during negotiations (Cumps, Viaene and Geebels, 2014).

The informal forum began on the eve of Christmas in the year 2015, rightfully timed since all the family members were together celebrating Christmas. Uncle Harry sparked attentiveness by breaking off with a speech. He gave the history of the land, clearly described its original owners, our grandparents, and convinced us how he thought they would never mind selling the land had they been alive. Initially opposed to the idea, the orator’s perfect combination of ethos, logos and pathos begun startling my mind. As a good negotiator, he combined these aspects of speech perfectly to present himself as a persuasive communicator, a key factor of negotiation as pointed out by Cumps et. al. (2014). He even made cautious jokes in between his words.

Uncle Harry then left the chance for others to lay out their ideas. Proving to be a good listener and a patient negotiator, he listened to us one by one, not cutting anyone short, even the opposition. These negotiation skills indirectly inclined everyone towards agreement. I could not agree more when he used facts and honesty, blending these skills further with positivity and enthusiasm. Moreover, having common interests with stakeholders builds trust during negotiations (Cumps et. al., 2014). Uncle Harry reminded us how much all the beneficiary family members were in need of money. Through legal documents, he calculated how much our piece of land would cost. The funds would then be divided equally amongst the beneficiaries; this was reasonable because the land was not in use and the family needed the money to reinvest it in the U.S instead. Uncle Harry would emphasize his honesty by making the equal profit share a legally binding contract, convincing me he was up to doing good.

At the end of the negotiations where the opposition, my uncle, exhibited good listening and communication skills, patience, empathy, loyalty, attentiveness, clarity, honesty, common interests and logic, I completely trusted him that the heirloom was worth selling.


Cumps, B., Viaene, S., & Geebels, M. (2014). Negotiation Skills.

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