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  • Writer's pictureLorenzo Colombani

Leveraging Standards in Negotiation: A Lesson from Star Wars

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan Kenobi, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (Lucasfilm, Disney).

In the world of business, negotiation is a critical skill that can make or break deals, relationships, and even entire companies. But what if we could learn a valuable lesson in negotiation from a galaxy far, far away?

Let's explore a scene from "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" and draw parallels to real-world business scenarii.

The Scene: Anakin's Negotiation with His Mother

In "The Phantom Menace," young Anakin Skywalker wants to help the protagonists, but his mother initially refuses out of care for her son. Anakin then says to her:

"Mom, you always say that the biggest problem in the galaxy is that people don't help each other."

This statement, a standard his mother has set, convinces her to allow him to help.

What is a Standard?

A standard is a principle or rule that serves as a basis for judgment or comparison. In negotiation, it's a powerful tool that can be used to persuade others by appealing to commonly accepted norms or values. In Anakin's case, he used his mother's own words as a standard to persuade her to see things from his perspective.

Applying Standards in Business Negotiations

In the real business world, standards can be leveraged in various ways. Here are some examples: 1. Aligning with Company Values :

  • If a company prides itself on innovation, a negotiator might appeal to this value when proposing a new partnership or product.

2. Using Industry Benchmarks:

  • By referencing industry standards or best practices, a negotiator can justify a particular pricing structure or contract term.

3. Appealing to Ethical Norms:

  • In negotiations involving social responsibility or sustainability, appealing to widely accepted ethical standards can be persuasive.

A Template for Success

The scene from "Star Wars" serves as a textbook example of using standards in negotiation. By understanding and applying this concept, business leaders and negotiators can create more persuasive arguments and achieve better outcomes.

For B2B businesses seeking to enhance their negotiation skills, this approach offers a simple and effective template. By aligning negotiations with recognized standards and values, businesses can foster stronger relationships and achieve their goals. In today's fast-paced and competitive business landscape, the art of negotiation is more vital than ever.

The example from "Star Wars" isn't just a captivating scene from a beloved film; it's a real-world lesson that we can all apply.

Whether you're negotiating a major contract, seeking a partnership, or simply trying to align your team's goals, understanding and utilizing standards can be a game-changer. It's about connecting with others on common ground, using shared values to build bridges, and finding solutions that benefit everyone involved.

Plus, you can use this tool in any negotiation. It is not restricted to business. This isn't just theory; it's a practical approach that's been proven time and again in the business world. Embrace it, and you may find that the path to success is not so far, far away after all. Ressources:

  • Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

  • Getting More, chapter 4, Stuart Diamond

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