‘Interpersonal conflict costs India $156 billion every year’

Stuart Diamond, global expert in negotiation, spoke about the need for effective, empathetic interactions

Vishal koul

India loses $156 billion to interpersonal conflict every year, said Stuart Diamond, a leading expert in negotiation. Diamond, who has helped governments and corporates across the world resolve conflicts, gave an estimate of the economic cost: “It’s twice the size of the education budget, it’s twice the size of the healthcare budget, it’s a huge amount, it’s 6% of GDP.”  

The author of a bestseller Getting More and an Emeritus Practice professor of legal studies and business ethics at Wharton, University of Pennsylvania, was speaking at Outlook Business #leadingedge2019.

He added that India ranks lower than Rwanda and Yemen on an index that tracks trust.

Diamond spoke about the need for negotiation and gave pointers on how to do it well, at the event. Negotiation is constant and you cannot do away with it, he said, adding, “you can only do it well or badly”. 

“Someone’s trying to meet their goals with somebody else, silently, verbally, consciously, not consciously, walking down the street, in the store, doing a deal with your kids. You can’t get away from it. Saying you avoid negotiation means that you stand on the sidelines and they (the other) score points all day long,” said Diamond.

He said that today billions of people spend trillions of dollars a year without a clue about effectively interacting with each other, resulting in political, economic and personal problems.

Using power and leverage, the worst negotiation strategy, is used around the world, he said, adding, “leverage is mentioned so many times, it makes me sick.” Problem with this method is that, the other side – be it terrorists, defiant employees or children — will retaliate. “When they retaliate, it takes time and effort to deal with it, time you could’ve spent adding value,” he said.

Diamond pointed to a blind spot in our civilisational march. “It is kind of interesting, don’t you think, that after a million years since the beginning of the human race, we still settle our conflicts mostly through economic, personal and physical violence, which of course, makes no sense at all,” he said.