Negotiation in Communication – Good vs. Bad

—Negotiation is an interpersonal decision-making process necessary whenever we cannot achieve our objective single-handily’ (Thompson, 2005). This post compares two case studies of negotiation and analyses how one has managed negotiation effectively and the other ineffectively.



WHO: Scottish Referendum

WHAT: ‘If you don’t know, then you have to vote No’.

WHEN: Thursday 18 September 2014

RESULT: Scotland remains part of the UK because more people voted No. 55.3% voted No and 44.7% voted Yes. It is said that Gordon Browns speech at the “Love Scotland Vote No” rally in Glasgow swayed the votes towards No to independence. Brown spoke of choosing No because of love for Scotland and love for the future and one point that stood out to many was ‘If you don’t know, then you have to say No.’ The majority of campaigns were targeted at the No or Yes camps and little attention was given for the people who were unsure or had unanswered questions and Brown reaching out to these people is said to have been the tipping point in votes towards No. Political speeches are a great way to negotiate and if done effectively they can make a massive difference, proven by this case study.




WHO: Apple and Samsung

WHAT: Samsung in patent violations of Apple IPhone trial

WHEN: 2012

RESULT: A California jury ruled that Samsung would have to pay Apple more than $1 billion in damages for patent violations of Apple products, particularly its iPhone. However, the negotiation was not handled well and the cost would be further argued until the judge dropped the charge to $600 million. After this the negotiation had still not been settled and in November 2013, another jury ruled that Samsung would have to pay Apple $290 million of the amount overruled by the judge in the 2012 case. Despite the pay-out finally being settled this didn’t resolve the conflict as a court-ordered mediation between the CEOs of the two companies in 2012 ended in impasse and the disputants continue to fight in courts worldwide.

RECCOMMENDATIONS: In terms of Samsung managing to negotiate the cost of the pay-out down lower, there was still the issue that the original negotiation was unsuccessful resulting in the trial lasting longer than necessary. The cost should have been negotiated at the first trial and agreed to by both parties with a coinciding agreement to end the conflict between the organisations to prevent future court cases.

What do you think of these two examples?

What do you think could have been done better to resolve the Samsung vs. Apple negotiation quicker?

Can you think of any examples of negotiation that stand out for being good or bad?


THOMPSON, L. 2005. The mind and heart of the negotiator. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson/Prentice Hall.—
HARVARD LAW SCHOOL, 2015. Top Business Negotiations of 2013: Apple versus Samsung [online] [viewd on 24th February 2015] [Available at:
GOV.UK, 2015. Scottish Independence Referendum Archived [online] [viewd on 24th February 2015] [available at:
BROWN, G, 2015. Gordon Brown’s speech at the “Love Scotland Vote No” rally in Glasgow [online] [viewed on 24th February 2015] [available at:
Photo credits:


10 thoughts on “Negotiation in Communication – Good vs. Bad

  1. Richard says:

    Hi Helen,

    This is interesting because I’m sure a few people would argue that the Scottish Referendum was not all that successful, but of course they’re the people who wanted ‘yes’ to win. In terms of Gorgon Brown’s negotiation skills at the rally it was effective and he managed to identify people that were not yet being targeted by persuasion.

    What is also interesting is that Apple and Samsung are essentially the same product. Samsung is one of Apples largest suppliers so for Apple to say that Samsung has copied what has been supplied by Samsung almost seems laughable. These two companies are rivals as well as business partners so there’s no surprise that conflict will arise. And in terms of negotiating this deal, I agree it was poorly handled and dragged out for longer than it should have. The recommendations you make seem wise, however, I think that an agreement between Samsung and Apple to prevent future conflict would only be pointless as two big ego companies like themselves will always be competitive.

    Good read, thanks

    • Helen Cummings says:

      Hi Richard,
      Thank you for commenting, you raise some important points.

      I think it’s interesting that you mentioned the opposition thinking that the negotiation was unsuccessful for the Scottish Referendum as this suggests the evaluation of effective negotiation is dependant on which sides point you are looking from, do you agree that this is the case?

      I agree with you that Apple and Samsung will inevitably get into conflict as they are stakeholders of both competitors and suppliers. I understand your point that an agreement to prevent future conflict may be one of hope but ultimately pointless due the competition of power between such large organisations.
      Thank you for sharing your views.

  2. chloeattwoodpr says:

    Hi Helen,

    Great blog post. I am certain that without Gordan Browns ‘If you don’t know, vote no’ catch phrase Scotland would no longer be a part of the UK. Maybe this proves that when negotiating you need a little catch phrase that appeals to all?


    • HLCPR says:

      That’s a good point, Chloe. I think that the continuity of a catch phrase would be effective in a negotiation. Similarly, sticking to a key point will create the same effect. Thanks


    I like the first example quit a bit, the second I do not think is a great example of a bad negotiation. This is a situation that has no real win for either side, and I do not think that any side deserves real blame for bad negotiation. Well written, good blog.

    • HLCPR says:

      Thank you for commenting, Piranha Business.
      I see your point that as there was no clear winner that it would be hard to see who was to blame for the ineffective negotiation. It is interesting that you think no side should receive blame, would you say that the jury or the ‘handler’ of the negotiation could have been to blame?

  4. WB says:

    Nice article Helen; I agree with your analysis. Time plays a key role when conducting a negotiation as you demonstrate with the case of Apple/Samsung. Sometimes, we do not realize that small details can jeopardized a negotiation. Oddly enough, your example makes me think about Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm! Here, the drawback of the negotiation was not time but the pertinence of the agreement.

    • HLCPR says:

      Thank you for your comment, World Branding. I definitely agree that time plays a large role in effective negotiaion but the smaller factors are important too.

      You raise an interesting example with Disney purchasing Lucasfilm as the key factor needed was trust. Iger used a formula in a bid to manage the negotation effectively:

      1. Send in the big guns.
      •Iger won over Lucas’ trust by showing that a Lucasfilm purchase was worthy of his personal attention.

      2. Be patient.
      •Iger and Lucas conducted their deal over the course of a year and a half. Remember, it takes time to prove you’re trustworthy.

      3. Give them a role.
      •By asking Lucas to include treatments for new Star Wars films in the deal, Disney showed him that it planned to build on his vision rather than replace it.
      (found at
      Do you think that’s the right way to go?
      Thank you

  5. HLCPR says:

    Thank you, World Branding. It does seems clear that a process like the one previously mentioned is important to make sure all key factors are considered.

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