Symmetries in relationship

“The safest way to try to get what you want is to try to deserve what you want. It’s such a simple idea. It’s the golden rule. You want to deliver to the world what you would buy if you were on the other end.”

Charlie Munger

In Barry Nalebuff’s Split the Pie, he emphasized the concept of symmetry in negotiation, highlighting that in any two-party negotiation, the contribution of both are actually equal. Because the benefits are off the table when any one of the parties walk away. And therefore once the pie is identified, it should be split down the middle.

As seen in the quote above, the thinking about symmetry is the same when we consider how we ought to treat others, how we put things out into the world, and make decisions. There is always a thought experiment that allows you to be on the symmetrical opposite end of the deal – and you’ve to consider if you’d accept what you’re getting.

What this mean is you can introduce this thought experiment to someone who puts up a ridiculous deal and flip the tables on him/her. When the person highlights the asymmetry of the parties, you can mention that it is irrelevant to what you’re trying to create here. The question is whether the person is actually committed to securing this gain? If the person has a better deal elsewhere, put it on the table so it shrinks the pie and the split can be reallocated.