20 4 mins 7 yrs


In the world of politics as practiced now, which here includes all those who consistently express any partisan point of view. or, God help us all, the world of blogs, a few harsh rules prevail.

Your side is correct, and the other side is wrong.

You are virtuous, and the other guy is a dunce or a crook, or both.

Compromise is the most dirty word. You bludgeon the poor dumb bastard into seeing things your way.If he fails to see the light, you say bad things about him. At no point can you or should you consider the possibility that he has a point, even a small one.

I negotiate for a living. In the world of business, which has nothing to do with the black and white netherworld of political hyper partisans.

I work in a specialized part of the financial services ( insurance ) industry. I create a bespoke series of contracts where, if everything goes to hell in an insured loss, companies in America, London, Bermuda and other places will lose up to $1 billion dollars. I stand between tough, smart, demanding corporate customers in the retail, mining, finance, chemical, media, and other sectors, some of the names all of you might know, and equally tough, smart, demanding, insurance companies. Everyone wants the deal to happen. I, and the companies I represent, want to pay a small amount of money, while the insurance companies want to charge more money. The deals are renewed every year. Some negotiations take nine months. For some complex risks, I think of where we will might be three years from now, and what we should all be doing then.

You know what I notice in this world of business negotiation?

In my business world, all parties generally respect the others. No one shouts. Every party states their case, and their arguments are always carefully considered by the others. No one thinks that they are entirely right, no one says that the other guy is wrong. It is really unusual to hear anyone say that the other party is dim, and I’ve never heard of anyone calling the counterparty a crook. And every last one of my deals ends in a compromise where no one gets everything that they wants.

The world of politics, including the purely political spins on say matters of taxation, economics, regulation, emigration, environmental things, including global warming, as these things are heard in the media, are a manichaean world whose proponents are certain that they are 100 percent in the right and where the other side is a moron who is completely in the wrong.

The hyper partisans among us should take a lesson from the world of business. Defend your position, but listen to the other party. And don’t be so sure that you’re 100 percent in the right – you almost certainly are not. The other person may actually have a point, if you can possibly consider that as a possibility.

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20 thoughts on “The World of Business is Superior to the World of Politics

  1. As you practice it. But not as others do I am afraid. Some good points, but I am not so sure universal ones.

    I am now in deep debt to your patience for a summit. Let us not let October by without one.

  2. In my bidness, we ( hopefully ) keep our clients for a long time, and we must do business with the major insurance companies over time. Which is a good thing. There is usually plenty of room for negotiation by the prepared but there is no demonization in this world.

    The business culture in my world varies by geography, and I am a particular fan of the way my London does it. There is an emphasis on personal meetings and personal relationships that serves them well.

    Beer summit soon for sure.

  3. Interesting post, Phantom. My company doesn’t negotiate much…we just tell you (and the rest of the world) what we think. Take it or leave it. I’ve been in DC where it’s hard to ignore politics and politicians so I’m trying to focus on history (past politicians) every chance I get. Most of the most admired politicians are those who know/knew how to negotiate, which invariably means compromise…and that has been a bad word for several years now.

  4. In US politics, compromise became a dirty word with the Gingrich jihad against the evil scum of the earth crook Democrats.

    The Democrats returned the favor with their jihad against the evil scum of the earth chimp Halliburton as a curse word George W Bush.

    The possibility that Clinton and Bush were generally acting in good faith was never once considered by those who set opinion for the base, or for the terribly confused base in each party who follow the opinion makers.

  5. what triggered this soliloquy?

    There are two parts of politics, there is the acting side which we the public see most, and then there used to be the negotiating side. The side where people like Tip O’Neil and Reagan could at the end of the day sit down and have a drink.

    The dropping of the business side of politics is an interesting topic. You say it started with Newt and Clinton, yet look back on the Clinton Presidency. Never were the two sides in better display.

    For the TV cameras there was a ton of partisan bickering, but look how much got compromised on and accomplished during Clintons second term. Your not giving it a fair evaluation.

    Even with control of both houses and trying to impeach him, Clinton and Newt negotiated.

  6. This is one reason why UKIP is getting more attractive. It has policies from both left and right and is not saying that all left wing policies are wrong and all right wing policies are correct (or vice versa), it’s saying there are policies from all parts of the political spectrum that people like, and as long as they are not mutually incompatible and they seem sensible, let’s give them a try.

  7. Great post, Phantom.
    It’s curious why it is so. Constructive argument is of course also not only in business; when scientists or academics get together verbal abuse is also completely unknown. It seems that politics is the big exception, and I haven’t clue why.

    Maybe something to do with politics being ultimately tribal and each side having to play to a usually uneducated and partisan “base” and score points for them in order to retain their support.

  8. Nol, you haven’t a clue why??? Because they play to the peanut gallery. Also, you have to realize that we are living in NOW world…it’s very hard to mince words. If you do, one side or the other will immediately be broadcasting around the world that ‘you’re week, you’re a coward, you’re a traitor, and worse. In this world of NOW and the NOW is public for the most part in the world of politics at least…there’s little wiggle room. Politics and business are on very diverging paths…there’s very few ‘behind the door’ opportunities, which is historically how politics was conducted.

  9. If you do, one side or the other will immediately be broadcasting around the world that ‘you’re week, you’re a coward, you’re a traitor, and worse.


    It’s a lot harder to do Nixon in China things in a Fox News world.

    The important thing is to defend the pseuduo-intellectual or political position, not to run the country. In the US, an awful lot of the Democrat and Republican hyperpartisans put the broad interests of the country firmly in second place, with their narrow causes in first place.

  10. those that put the interest of the Country First Phantom are people like the Tea Party and Characters like Glenn Beck, and Mark Levin. Your attitude towards those that are pushing The Country and the Constitution First you do nothing but ridicule and quote hearsay as if it was your gospel.

  11. no it settles nothing, it points out your inconsistency in your statement.

    You also totally ignore addressing all the compromise that took place between Newt and Clinton because it highlights the inconsistencies of your earlier statements

  12. Question for you Phantom why is said “that only Nixon could have gone to China” ?

    Do you have a clue why?

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