Leadership Crossroads Newsletter

In Focus:  Negotiation Essentials

My wife and I just returned from a very nice vacation in a beautiful country in Central America. Not only did we have a great time—we also enjoyed a few good deals.

For example, we paid around $24 for a taxi ride for which the asking price was $30. We shelled out $40 for a two-hour boat ride that set other couples back a steep $100. We got 25% off for two nights at a splendid beach resort although we had simply walked in rather than booking at an online discount rate.

You think it took a lot of time and effort to negotiate these deals? Not really. All we had to do was follow a few simple rules. These rules apply to your personal affairs as much as they do in the world of business. They also work in most countries around the world. Amazingly, I have found again and again that these rules are often overlooked:

Never Accept the First Offer

To most members of the human race, negotiating is a game. A serious one, sure, but nonetheless one to be played and enjoyed. I'm not talking about the U.S., Canada, or much of Europe here. Most Latin Americans, Africans and Asians, however, as well as many Southern Europeans, share this playful attitude. To them, the first offer is just the opening move in the game. Accepting it right away means you're refusing to play.

In all of the above settings, and in many other such situations, we rejected the first offer received, asking for a better price instead. We got one—almost every time.

Do Your Homework

Without knowing how much something should cost, you are all but guaranteed to end up overpaying. Do your homework and find out upfront. Sure, there's a limit to how much time you'll want to spend on this, but the return on the time invested often makes it more than worth your while.

In case of the taxi ride, for instance, our 'homework' consisted of asking at our hotel how much the ride normally cost. That took but a minute and saved $6. Before the two-hour boat ride, we talked to two other vendors offering such rides in the area to find out about their pricing. Five minutes spent, $60 saved.

Leverage Your BATNA

You probably heard of the 'BATNA', the 'Best Alternative to the Negotiated Agreement.' Those corporate types might dish up the term trying to impress you with their negotiation savvy, but let's be honest here: all it really means is "What's your next best option?"

In case of the two-hour boat ride, once we had done our homework and identified our BATNA, we stumbled across our most attractive option: a nicer-looking tour, albeit at a much steeper asking price. We refused and pointed to the pricing we'd get elsewhere. Since the company already had others signed up for the tour, meaning we offered incremental revenues at no incremental cost, they accepted our counteroffer.

At the beach resort, we knew we had other options in the vicinity. Although it was already late in the day, leveraging this knowledge was all it took to get the receptionist to offer a significant discount. This again took only a few extra minutes, for savings of well over a hundred dollars!

Following these essential negotiation rules doesn't take much. All you've got to do is remember them and spend a little time in order to prepare accordingly. Time worth spending? I think so.

This article is also available in PDF format  (requires Adobe Reader ).

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The Global


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Web Site Of The Month


This annual report by the World Economic Forum allows valueable insights into how nearly 150 countries around the world compare across 12 different categories.

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Quote Of The Month

There is
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Only opportunity.

Douglas MacArthur


Kindle E-Book edition
also available!

Negotiating International Business book

All 50 individual Country Sections from Negotiating International Business are available online  for free.

Download Country Section PDF files now!

Leadership Crossroads
is a competent resource for

  • Global Business Coaching & Training
  • Negotiation Training and Assistance
  • Cross-Cultural Project Management
  • Organizational Learning and Development
  • Executive Coaching
Would you like to know
    more about us?

Attend Managing International Projects
on June 24-26 in Orlando, Florida

This three-day workshop is part of the Project Management Institute's Mega SeminarsWorld 2013 offering.
Facilitated by Sue Freedman, PhD, and Lothar Katz, it explores critical cultural differences and best project management practices, as well as their implications on the design and execution of international projects. The interactive workshop teaches the critical skills for success and includes explorations, tool sets, and practice using case examples from a variety of industries and project settings.

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You're doing business internationally? Do you have an Android-based tablet or phone?
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NEW:  Remote Management - Workshops for Managers and Employees
Today's global corporations often put together multinational teams across distances, time zones, languages, and cultural barriers.  This new form of collaboration presents huge challenges to managers and team members alike: they need to learn how to communicate and work together remotely, bridging cultural differences and leveraging technology to achieve high remote team performance.  Our Remote Management workshops teach the skills that matter, from effective communication to promoting trust in an international remote team environment.
We already delivered Remote Management workshops successfully with participants from more than 15 countries.  Participant feedback was consistent and extremely favorable.  Please contact us if your company might benefit from a similar program.

Lothar Katz

Lothar Katz is the founder of Leadership Crossroads.  He has helped many clients achieve productive cooperation across cultures and drive business success on a global scale.
A seasoned global executive, he regularly interacted with employees, cus­tomers, out­sourcing partners, and third parties in numerous countries around the world.

Contact : info@leadershipcrossroads.com
Leadership CrossroadsSM, 2013

Global Business Practices:
Ten Tips for Doing Business in Kenya

  • Kenya is a multilingual country. While the official languages are Swahili and English, the country's population is composed of members of many different tribes, and more than 60 languages are spoken in the country.
  • Building strong relationships can be crucial for your success when doing business here. Kenyans tend to distrust people who appear rushed or whose intentions are unclear.
  • Polite and cheerful greetings are highly valued and can be extensive.
  • Extensive small talk is an important after every greeting, so ask questions about health, family, business and anything else you know about the person.
  • If a person has a professional or academic title, make sure to use it.
  • Diplomacy is of utmost importance when communicating here. Except with close friends, Kenyans rarely speak their minds openly.
  • It may jeopardize relationships if you openly criticize someone, even in a one-on-one setting.
  • Exaggerations are frequent, so take everything you hear with a grain of salt.
  • Never display anger openly. Kenyans pride themselves on their emotional control and expect others to do the same.
  • Beverages are generally only served at the end of a meal since Kenyans consider it impolite to eat and drink at the same time.

Our newsletter is a quarterly publication about all aspects of International and Cross-Cultural Business Management.  Past issues can be found in our  newsletter archive.

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