One of the confounding terms in the business world is value. Outside the business world the term poses difficult questions to philosophers, economists, religious thinkers in the sense it matters to them. One of the main challenges is to define whether the value of an object/service is absolute or relative. For example, neoclassical economists perceive value as relative while classical folks try to measure it as innate worth, and an objectivist acknowledges the worth, but play it down with reason.

In a world, where value seems to be driven by perceptions of individuals, it is difficult to assess the true value of anything – that too, only if a true value exists for one! And, we often come to the table negotiating our perceptions of value. We have created processes, methodologies and systems to minimize the negotiations; especially to save the carps from negotiation sharks. But these systems are not foolproof, and loopholes are easily exploited.

In most of our day-to-day transactions value of a substance/service is often understood by its objective and subjective elements. It helps if we separate objective and subjective elements and their contributions to the assessed value, with the context of subjectivity well understood. There could be some delicate inter-dependencies between these elements, which may need to be dealt with care and tact.

When the systems fail, processes become inadequate, value tilts out of balance. At that point negotiation starts and fairness of the deal depends a lot on the parties involved. A good and principled negotiation helps in establishing value in a realistic manner. It is also good to remember that there is value in building relationships as well, through healthy negotiations.