Negotiating Through The World

Silvia Nadal Partner and Consultant of Gestión del Cambio Empresarial

“First try to understand and then to be understood.”
Stephen Covey

I have been lucky enough for many years in my professional career to have to interact and negotiate with people from other countries, cultures and religions.

When I started my career in the business world, I had a strong opinion of what was right and wrong, the different cultures I encountered in the countries I worked in did not make me doubt my convictions at that time.

Despite observing that people behave in different ways and do things differently in other countries, I believed that the way we did things in mine was the right thing to do and any deviation seemed to me to be a mistake, instead of realizing that it was simply a different way of seeing and doing things.

As time went by, I realized that I could not think in absolute terms and that the important thing was to see that each person is different even within what I considered to be the same culture.

We would live in a very boring world if we all shared the same points of view and the same interests, and it has been a great opportunity for me to meet so many different people and it is surprising to see that despite the different customs, habits and behaviour’s, many times we want and are interested in similar things on a professional and personal level.

When we start a negotiation, we are usually waiting to convince the other party to share our views and interests, we believe that our proposal is so valid that we hardly think about anything else, but often when this is not the case, we think that it is a lack of understanding of the other party.

This is probably the biggest mistake we make when negotiating, not knowing in depth the interests and motivations of our interlocutor. Everything is easier if, in addition to trying to convince others to follow my interests, I devote my efforts to discovering theirs by asking the right questions, to see beyond what unites us or separates us and to see how we can find that agreement that is satisfactory to both parties.

Not only will we discover information that will be important to that particular negotiation, but by showing a clear desire to fit their needs and preferences will make our partner more comfortable and at ease with us and more likely to be compliant with our requirements and needs.

Discover the interests of your interlocutor, the engine that drives the person to reach an agreement, because by trying to satisfy them, you will probably discover opportunities to be able to satisfy yours and even exceed your own expectations, i.e. to reach an agreement better than you thought you would find or more durable.

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