DUCK STORY – Problem Solving and Negotiation Skills

One of the most important skills you could learn in life is to negotiate, be it work or otherwise. Great negotiation skills can not not only solve some tricky problems but also help build better relationships, both professional and personal. Here’s a story which will show you just how important it is to believe in the existence of a solution for every problem, if you are willing to negotiate … Read on:

A father left 17 ducks as asset for his Three Sons. When the father passed away, his sons opened up the will. It stated that the eldest son should get half of 17 ducks, the middle son should be given 1/3rd of 17 ducks and the youngest son should be given 1/9th of the 17 ducks.

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As it is not possible to divide 17 into half or 17 by 3 or 17 by 9, the sons started to fight with each other. You know how loving family feuds are.

Unable to come to a satisfactory conclusion, they decided to go to a wise man who used to live in a cave. The wise man listened patiently about the will. He decided to help them put an end to the squabble and he came up with a solution. He added one of his own ducks to the 17. That increased the total to 18 ducks.

Now, he started reading the deceased father’s will.

Half of 18 = 9.
So he gave 9 ducks to the eldest son.

1/3rd of 18 = 6.
So he gave 6 ducks to the middle son.

1/9th of 18 = 2.
So he gave 2 ducks to the youngest son.

Now add this up :
9 + 6 + 2 = 17 &
This leaves 1 duck which the wise man took back!

MORAL : The attitude of negotiation & problem solving is to find the 18th duck i.e. the common ground, the common denominator. Once a person is able to find the common ground, the issue is resolved. It is difficult at times. But definitely achievable.

However, to reach a solution, the first step is to believe that there is a solution. If we think that there is no solution, we won’t be able to reach any.

To come out of a negotiation with all parties happy is like a perfect marriage – impossible! Someone will always lose out more than the other. And that’s where you need a common ground – to know what matters most to you. As long as you take away that piece of priority with you out of the negotiation, your problem gets solved.

So to summarize – the two very important limbs of any problem solving and negotiation are

  1. believing there is a solution, a common ground and
  2. reaching that common ground by not being a group of squabbling siblings but mature wise men. Talking less & Talking wise can work wonders for you.

It is ALL IN THE MIND – both The devil & the solution.

This story was also shared by our President and CEO, Engr. Euls Austin Jr. during our production meeting this month. Now my dear co-workers here in the Mill, in times of problems or squabble, let us always do our best to find the 18th duck.




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