Business Communications Skills

Interpersonal Communication Skills


This is the title of a set of three articles (referenced in the PDF). The kernel of the advice given is summed up thus:

Good preparation and a proper technique can make sitting down at the negotiating table a pleasant experience from which both parties gain what they want.

This is the so-called 'win-win' rather than a 'win-lose' situation, making negotiation a cooperative effort rather than a competitive process. If and when one of the parties is convinced that there is nothing further to gain, the negotiation process will come to an end.

Another recent book on the subject starts (referenced in the PDF) with what one might think is a most obvious statement:

"Your real world is a giant negotiating table and like it or not, you are a participant."

Life is full of negotiations indeed and managers are constantly involved in these in the course of their normal work. Their success, in fact, depends on how they handle their daily negotiations with their teams, their peers and their top management and a host of other agencies. They could order their team mates around, but the surest way to accomplish their tasks would be to negotiate with them and gently persuade them onwards to their goal. They should be able to negotiate for what they want and on this they should be quite clear. To quote Henry Ford I:

"If you think you can or you cant you're always right."

For negotiation to succeed a manager must first find out what the other side wants and then show them the way that they can get it, whilst they (the manager) are still getting what they want. This is the most satisfactory solution, the 'win-win' equation as noted earlier. It is not always possible, but it is also the only equation acceptable to both parties.

So nothing short of that will really do. In negotiating with people of other nationalities, the manager must take into account the cultural differences between them and also their significant national traits. But above all it will be the personal element that is most important. This applies not only at the top but also at the detailed working level, between the members of the team and their counterparts. It was Sir John Buckley, chairman of the Davy Corporation, who after a round of discussions and negotiations in China remarked:

'... in this business where lots of money is being spent - the customer likes to look the top man in the eye from time to time to say you are going to stand by me, aren't you?'

This kind of feeling cannot be conveyed by telephone or letter. On the subject of contractual negotiations, Sir John also mentioned that Chinese prefer simple and brief contracts. They seem to say that there's nothing in the world you can't get into three pages. If we did not trust you, we would not do business with you.

This is in sharp contrast to the American and European practice of elaborate contracts covering just about everything under the sun, including all eventualities. Sir John implied candidly that, after all, in this field most business is done between consenting adults in private!

Let us conclude this section by two tips (referenced in the PDF) on negotiation. Firstly, never forget the power of your attitude, since nothing gives a person so much advantage over another as to remain cool and unruffled under all circumstances. Secondly, never judge the actions and motives of others since it is impossible to look into someone's heart or mind.

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