You’ve five cattle, one of them is a bull. The bull serves its bull purpose well and it’s no bully at all. The cows are safe in its company. Its presence is integral; and its ‘no bully’ character crystalises its value and importance. For that reason, its place is guaranteed.
There are three adult female cattle, the three of them produce milk but at different production capacities. The remaining one is a healthy-looking heifer, fathered by the only bull present. So, it’s the daughter to the ‘no bully’ bull.
The cows produce enough milk for your consumption needs, enough for your favourite milk products such as cow milk cheese et cetera. But you like goat milk and its products like cheese, too. However, you do not own goats, and do not have the money to buy goat milk and its products. Your burly neighbour Billy with a long goatee owns a herd of goats and no cattle although he dons his signature Texan cowboy hat, probably for emotional compensation.
Burly Billy with a long goatee drinks cow milk, he likes his morning coffee with cream, and likes cream on his homemade cakes, and delights himself as a bon vivant when it comes to cow milk cheese. Burly Billy with a long goatee talks glowingly and endlessly about different types of cow milk cheese; the cambozola triple cream, Danish blue cheese, Swiss emmental, Comte, Gouda, Brie Mon Sire; on and on. Until real billy from his goat herd trots, rather charges towards him, cutting his cow milk cheese names rap short, to give real billy goat attention.
But Burly Billy with a long goatee does not hide his desperate wish to own cattle so he could enjoy cow milk and its products. You notice Burly Billy with a long goatee has unmet needs, and you realise you can meet his needs. You are also fully aware of your own unmet needs, that of goat milk and its products. Burly Billy with a long goatee has what you need.
Cognisant of your lack of money, you approach Burly Billy with a long goatee with a barter proposal. Burly Billy with a goatee receives the proposal with great excitement. You remember you’ve heard, with some but not sufficient evidence, that Burly Billy with a long goatee, has a reputation of not bartering fair. Mainly because Burly Billy with a long goatee is a tough and clever negotiator; and as such, he often barters his worst for others’ best.
If others entering into a barter deal with Burly Billy with a long goatee, have little to no knowledge at all about goats, Burly Billy with a long goatee will, without shame, hand them the “lemon” equivalent of his goats. You don’t want to be yet his such next victim.
So, you do your due diligence on Burly Billy with a long goatee and the goats. You try to find out how much Burly Billy with a long goatee knows about cows, you discover, to your delight, the burly goatherder with a long goatee is a goat when it comes to knowledge about cattle.
Burly Billy with a long goatee will enter into a barter negotiation on a ‘product’ he knows nothing about but desperately wishes to barter for and have. This is a vital piece of information on Burly Billy with a long goatee.
It’s potential power in your hands, not yet power. Power is and will be in how you use (apply) this vital piece of information, not to gain an advantage because by virtue of having such vital information upfront, you already have advantage, but to ensure you barter your worst to get the best of/from Burly Billy with a long goatee.
You have the power and an advantage of information over the burly goatherder with a long goatee on his utter ignorance on things about cattle despite the goatherder’s love for cow milk and its varied products.
So, it’s you the cattle herder in a barter negotiation with a burly goatherder with a long goatee, Billy, who is utterly ignorant about cattle but desperately wants cattle to enjoy the privilege of drinking cow milk and the taste of varied cow milk products.
You also know that milk production capacity of one of your milk producing cows, the youngest, is much lower compared to others and unlikely to improve. Because of this, you’re happy to barter it for healthy and milk producing goats, to meet your need for goat milk and cheese.
Because of your prior interest in finding out about the goatherder’s herd, you know all the six milk producing goats are healthy and have a high milk production capacity. So, you’re happy with whichever Burly Billy with a long goatee offers for barter.
You take your chosen cow for barter to the burly goatherder with a long goatee, Billy, who, upon looking at the cow, struggles to hide his excitement, although Burly Billy with a long goatee, being a hard nose and experienced negotiator, knows showing excitement in negotiation, unless it’s done to beguile, can be potentially damaging.
Noticing the burly goatherder’s struggle to hide excitement, you demand three goats for your cow but will settle for two. Burly Billy the goatherder with a long goatee, strokes his long goatee whilst digesting and contemplating the demand.
After a moment of contemplation, Burly Billy the goatherder with a long goatee, counters the demand with what he thinks, based on his needs (what he stands to gain) and negotiation experience, is the best deal offer.
Adjusting his signature Texan cowboy hat, although without cattle but sensing this is the moment he could have cattle, he roared: two healthy, high milk producing goats, for your cow.
This is the story of not just (about)barter; but bartering good for better, bartering less (weakness) for more (strength). The power and value of the advantage of information in negotiation. How information is only power by how and what you apply it on to gain power, whatever that’s!