REAL-WORLD INSIGHTS

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Published: Jan 19 , 2017
Author: Stephen White

"That is why I have said before — and will continue to say — that every stray word and every hyped-up media report is going to make it harder for us to get the right deal for Britain." Theresa May has long repeated the mantra that she is not going to reveal the details of Britain’s Brexit negotiating tactics, because that would be poor negotiating practice. Yet in her speech on Tuesday she did just that. Here are some verbatim extracts – what deductions could you make from the highlighted words if you were a European bureaucrat charged with analysing Britain’s negotiating position...

Published: Jan 16 , 2017
Author: Alan Smith

I was thinking, as one is tended to do, over the January period, of any goals I could do with having as we waltz into 2017. Eat well, exercise regularly, spend more time on my relationships are my clear life goals. Frankly ones that we all probably share. But from a negotiation perspective, which after all is what I teach and consult in for a living, what three things would help people less focused on this area than I, make a distinct and significant improvement in their negotiation outcomes...

Published: Mar 18 , 2016
Author: Alan Smith

Well there are actually! Negotiation involves cold logic, cutting through all the verbiage, careful and clear analysis of the volatile and unpredictable environment before coolly selecting the correct option. Problem is we rarely get the time when making the hundreds of decisions we need to make each day in the negotiations that we do in both our commercial and personal lives. Emotions play a huge part in the actions we take and to some extent the brains higher function has been argued is to sort out many of the choices we have already made and make sense of them after the fact...

Published: Oct 05 , 2013
Author: Simon Letchford

This week’s government shutdown makes both sides of politics look dreadful. A poll this week had Congress less popular than head lice and root-canal surgery. But, channelling Rahm Emmanuel, (“never let a serious crisis go to waste”), here are a few negotiating lessons to take from Washington’s latest home-cooked fiasco..

Published: Sep 28 , 2012
Author: Robin Copland

There is more and more emphasis on the bottom line. Negotiators are getting ever more ruthless in their search for a “better deal” and sometimes the old “win-win” mantra is lost in the stampede. One of the tactics we see most often used by – and sometimes against – clients is the late introduction of a procurement specialist to a negotiation. In many cases, this person is introduced rather shamefacedly by the regular negotiator; the excuse is given that they are just there to cast a paternal eye over proceedings and check that the deal is watertight....

Published: Sep 14 , 2012
Author: David Bannister

"Put yourself in my shoes!" said trade union official who was role-playing to help some course participants practise their skills. I was reminded of this when, recently on holiday, I was reading a very enjoyable book called "The Bank of Dave". The book tells the story of a Lancastrian entrepreneur and millionaire called David Fishwick who decided that banks had all got rather too big for their boots and so he chose to open a bank of his own to service deposits and loans in his home town of Burnley (if you haven’t read it, it’s really good!)...

Published: Aug 31 , 2012
Author: Alan Smith

Virgin Trains aimed to shake up the railway business when it took over the West Coast mainline. Now, having lost the franchise to FirstGroup, are they tasting sour grapes or being genuine in their belief that FirstGroup are unable to deliver on their pitch?

Published: Aug 24 , 2012
Author: Alan Smith

When my kids were much younger we had a standard gag. I would ask them what time is it when an elephant sits on your fence? The answer was clearly time to get a new fence. Timing is indeed everything. A similar question could be asked right now with the World’s biggest sporting event still receiving plaudits from around the Globe (except of course the French), as perhaps the best ever Olympic games...

Published: Aug 10 , 2012
Author: David Bannister

Some years ago, I was teaching a management course in the Far East. My words were to be consecutively interpreted to the class so I had to send all my material for translation in advance. One of the exercises I used was a version of the ‘Prisoner’s Dilemma’, a game where the participants’ integrity is challenged and where they can be tempted to try to gain advantage over other participants by saying one thing and then doing something else to ‘win’ the game...

Published: Aug 03 , 2012
Author: Sam Macbeth

I’ve enjoyed watching the Olympics this week. I have also found the debate that has raged about the number of empty seats to be interesting as well. Disgruntled members of the public had tried and failed on several occasions to buy tickets – only to see that there have been numerous empty seats in the stadia during the first week of the Games. Several commentators have complained that LOCOG (the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) have had “seven years to avoid this situation”.

Published: Jul 27 , 2012
Author: Alan Smith

There is no doubt that much of what we learn is from experience. In fact the university of life, with all of its hard knocks, creates valuable lessons. The key is do we adjust our behaviour on the back of what is thrown at us. This week I have been running a couple of training courses in Bangkok. My first trip to the area, and I heartily recommend it. Great food, wonderful weather (at least the rain here is warm) and the people are friendly and generous hosts. For the westerner in this part of the world another attraction is the markets...

Published: Jul 20 , 2012
Author: Stephen White

There is a sweet story about an elderly man who is woken at 3.00am by his wife, who can hear strange noises outside the house. He opens the bedroom curtains and sees robbers stealing some of his stuff from the shed at the bottom of the garden. He calls the emergency line, explains what he can see, and asks for police assistance immediately. ‘Are they actually in your house?’ asks the operator. ‘No’, he says, ‘I’ve told you. They are in the shed at the bottom of the garden’. ‘We don’t have anyone available at the moment,’ says the operator ‘but we will send someone along within 2 hours’. The man puts the phone down, waits thirty seconds, and calls back to the police....

Published: Jul 06 , 2012
Author: Alan Smith

I know I am getting on but it used to be that along with the doctor and the local bobby, the bank manager was one of the few people in whom you could put your faith that he would do the right thing. He would sign your passport photos, offer sage words of solid advice about the mortgage and generally be seen to be one of the go-to guys when you really needed it. Not any more...

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Tell them what you want

Negotiations are often formulaic. Management, for example, go into a negotiation fully expecting the union to make the first proposal. This approach has been accepted as the norm for so many years that somehow, it is seen as “not the done thing” to do anything different. If management is keen to...

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