So much of our global society is dependent on negotiations. It may seem hyperbolic, but it’s true: negotiation stops wars and signs treaties. Negotiations start humanitarian initiatives, build corporations, and drive economic growth in countries all over the world. While some go through life oblivious to the negotiations going on around us, these interactions are capable of changing the course of history. Here are three master negotiators who changed the fate of the world:
Harvard Law School recently named Nelson Mandela as one of the best negotiators in history. He was well known for his patience, strategic thinking, practicality, and unwillingness to quit. He was able to make concessions, but refused to back down from what he thought was most important. In negotiating with a government that prized violence and resistance, Mandela brought a quiet resolve. This led to an uncanny ability to persuade his adversaries, one that was unmatched in the 20th century.
Teddy Roosevelt is well known for many things; his “Citizen in a Republic Speech” is one of the most famous in American history. He also famously delivered a 90-minute speech soon after he was shot by an innkeeper in 1912. “It takes more than that to kill a bull-moose,” he reassured his audience, referring to the name of his Progressive independent party.
Roosevelt was just that – as stubborn as a bull-moose, unwilling to budge on the issues that were important to him. He also was famed for his soft side – in fact, his act of mercy toward a wounded black bear on a hunting trip made him the subject of jokes in the press and led to the creation of the “Teddy Bear.”
Members of the Nixon administration will go down in history for many things, but few of them are positive. Henry Kissinger, however, is the notable exception. In his capacity of Secretary of State and National Security Advisor to both the Nixon Administration and Ford Administration, Kissinger weathered adversity and came out on top. From establishing diplomatic relations with China to diffusing geopolitical tensions with the Soviet Union, his actions ushered in peace in a time of American discord.
The world’s best negotiators altered the course of global history, whether through toppling evil governments or preventing potential war. Though we may not think about it often, these three expert negotiators prevented bloodshed and ushered in eras of peace, both in America and around the world.