45 Things I Learned... 20

Friday, February 3, 2023

Negotiation is based on dialogue, not a monologue, and requires communication skills. It can be innate or acquired but takes experience to be mastered. It is a powerful tool in diplomacy and our daily lives as well. To negotiate with success, it is crucial to plan and get ready. It is in my character to be always prepared before attending a meeting. Or a class. Because one of the courses I took while at university was about negotiating in politics. And not only did I love those sessions, but I also excelled at that study subject. That decision-making can be impromptu. It remains my business to be as informed as I can be. And I can usually listen up to the subject at hand. The topic can range from a home-related choice to be done or a business agreement to be reached. Because we first negotiate with ourselves! Acknowledging that everything is negotiable is important to keep in mind. The process might be complicated but that's another story.

When I was working on my own, we decided, the business partners and I, to have our servers located in Germany rather than the Philippines or Lebanon, where power outages were regular. But I got my eyes on the sum we were paying, it looked enormous. I was due to stop in Berlin for a day or two and get to know our collection designers in person. So I arranged for some time in Hamburg to see Netzlink, our service provider. I managed to arrive a few hours earlier and took the opportunity to stroll a little around the city. The weather alternated between a fine drizzle of a few minutes and sun rays. So it was with a happy smile and fully relaxed that I made my appointment on time. The building was an architectural gem from the outside, and more modern on the inside, but I didn't have much time to think about art. I needed to focus on renegotiating the terms of our contract and I expected to fight to be fierce. Long story short, after taking the tour of the premises, and being shown and told all the company provided, I was ready for the debate. I started by asking for all the details to make sure I was aware of the whole picture. My business partners had just signed off a services contract that was not to our advantage at all. After all had been clearly exposed, I started asking my questions. I had my poker face on while poking around any loophole I had taken note of during the 30-min exposé. After about an hour, another colleague from Netzlink joined our reunion and it was me discussing against two. Another hour passed and I had been unshakably determined with my requests. Finally, the team lead also joined us and I was getting a little nervous and tired from all the back and forth. When he exclaimed, "lady! You haggle more passionately than a bazaar dealer in Istanbul"! I felt relieved and allowed myself to crack a smile. I had brought down the contract value by almost 87% and asked for additional things to be thrown in on top of that! It had been an arduous argumentation but the effort paid well off.

It was my mental state and my preparedness that helped me score on that negotiation table. Both parties felt we had reached a good outcome. It was important not to give the impression that I was there to win and make my opponent lose. All I was thinking of was saving myself a lot of money that could be invested elsewhere in the company while receiving the appropriate service needed that this third party was supplying. My business partners couldn't believe that achievement until we received an updated contract a week later. And the people I had negotiated with were so impressed with what had been done, that they reached out to me, later on, to give a testimonial on a tech-related matter regarding businesses. I had to politely decline because I was already working 20 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is not to say that I succeeded to mend all the terms I negotiated my way. Since in life, you win some and also lose some. I just brace myself for any kind of outcome and make the most of it.

Some quotes on negotiation:

So much of life is a negotiation, so even if you are not in business, you have opportunities to practice all around you - Kevin O'Leary

Your ability to negotiate, communicate, influence, and persuade others to do things is absolutely indispensable to everything you accomplish in life - Brian Tracy

The best move you can make in negotiation is to think of an incentive the other person hasn't even thought of, and then meet it - Eli Broad

He who has learned to disagree without being disagreeable has discovered the most valuable secret of negotiation - Chris Voss

In any negotiation, the one who first gives a number is the loser - Kenneth Eade

Negotiation and discussion are the greatest weapons we have for promoting peace and development - Nelson Mandela

The art of negotiation is perhaps what most deeply distinguishes man from the animals, and it is this art and this will to negotiate that has brought man forward, and elevated him beyond the animals - Harry Martinson

The photo is me negotiating a sale with someone in Manila. I didn't win that one. But it was a good lesson. So there was a win in the end 😊

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