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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Chandni Chawk offers training on bargaining skills

Have you ever thought of that one skill almost everyone in Bangladesh applies in their day to day lives? It starts from the hour you step out of your house to go to work or to school. It takes place the moment you get into doing some shopping centers or for your kitchen shopping. Places like Bongobazar, Gawsia or Chandni Chawk are perhaps the centers for excellence for applying and seeing this unique skill in action. This skill is not yet offered through the skills development workshops by or Prothom Alo jobs and I will have to ask training gurus like Quazi Bhai or Parveen Apa if they have ever provided trainings on this skill. Interestingly, the learning and application of this skill is not limited to blue collar executives or salaried employees. Infact this skill is practiced and perfected in some cases by those unemployed women who have been involved in the most demanding yet unpaid job one can ever imagine - housekeeping, or lets put it as domestic project managers. From dawn to dusk, the invisible skill in action in a typical Bangladeshi life is that of - bargaining.

How many times it happened to you that the rickshaw-wala agreed to your asking price to ferry you to your destination? Did you ever have any luck in trying the same with stubborn and egoist CNG-walas or the cabbies? May be you must have had some success while shopping in Bongobazar or in Kacha bazars around your city. I remember experiencing shock and awe while discovering myself unwillingly accompanying my spouse in the great battle field of Chandni Chawk near New Market in Dhaka. This is one place where its acceptable to ridicule the vendor's asking price and reduce it to near dust and dirt in the form of the proposed bidding price. Same applies for Bongobazar may be. Do you think what takes place during these transactions apply in any situations in your business life in Bangladesh? Or for the sake of sounding good, we call it 'negotiation skills' in board rooms? Do we agree or disagree to the fact that there is a difference between bargaining and negotiating and both might as well apply depending on the circumstances in day to day business situations?

It seems negotiation skills focus more on problem solving where the promise is for a win-win situation for all or both the parties involved. There is little or no manipulation and the spirit is that of cooperation. On the other hand it seems that bargaining involves, to some degree, manipulative tactics even to end up in a win-lose or lose-win situation. There is no incentive for a buyer out in Bongobazar to negotiate in a win-win situation so that the seller and buyer both are happy and the transaction takes place. Rather the seller would be hell bent to maximise his profit margin as much as possible and would come up with undeniable excuses to defend his asking price. This can have special effect depending on the buyer's skin color and appearance so that foreigners or 'those who look well-off' are asked exhorbitant prices in the first cut. Personally speaking I score very low in the bargaining skills and always prefer fixed price venues to do all my shopping. Sometimes I regret however for not having practiced enough bargaining skills in business situations, something I used to do as a Dhakabashi any ways - as that is the need of the hour there. Interestingly, there is no explicit focus on this ability to bargain effectively in training courses or business discussions. I think that in our search for civility, the desire to approach every problem with the idea of attaining a happy resolution, makes us forget the importance of bargaining. Some problems demand street-wise bargaining skills. Not everyone comes to the table with the epistemology of negotiations. Sometimes, people come to the table like they are shopping in a bazaar.

Its interesting to make an inventory of khati deshi skills we possess in Bangladesh and how we can translate and apply the same to further our business objectives both within and outside the country.

1 comment:

Net_Bug said...

Training on Bargaining Skills !!! Great...!!! would be nice to attend some lectures.. at least I hope so..