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Extracts from "The Ten Commandments of Negotiation " a forthcoming book:


Introduction: The importance of negotiation

MP3 FileNegotiation is a critical human skill, and something we do whenever we deal with other human beings.

The focus of this Site is on the complex process of international, or cross-cultural negotiation.

Workshops and Consultancy

Andrew Palmer is available to run workshops on the negotiation issues that you are confronting, to plan training and commercial processes, and to provide consultancy.

Please email him:

Negotiation Magazine

It now includes an online magazine. If you wish to contribute a piece please email me.

Forthcoming book

A new book on the process of international negotiation, which will be cross-referenced with this Site, should be ready to go to the publishers soon and hopefully will be published later this year. At that time this Site will be relaunched to reflect the structure of the book.

The book will cover the whole range of skills needed by an international business person who has to negotiate. A particular focus will be the need to understand other people's perceptions (frames of reference) and on the psychological issues that affect negotiations.

Please email if you would like to be kept up to date, putting "negotiation book" in the subject line.

Comment Form

A new feature that has just been added is our comment form, please use it to send me your insights and to contribute to this Site.

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This Site started out as an attempt to produce a resource for international negotiators. It is my view of what I have learnt during negotiations in a number of countries, together with links to material that I have found useful.

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The focus of this Site

The primary focus is on business negotiation, because of the key importance of this process to the economy, however we believe that the negotiator should also be aware of complex political and international negotiation problems, as the principles and processes of negotiation are common, no matter what the subject matter. Two primary areas of concern emerged during the process of creating this Site, the first is the importance of cultures, that it the behavior and background of the entity you are negotiating with, and the second is the importance for organizations of having a commercial infrastructure to support the process of negotiation with other parties. Organizations need effective procedures and clearly stated objectives if they are to control their interactions with the external world (and groups within their organization - e.g. organized labor). The negotiator is rather like a fighter pilot who may be catapulted into action off the deck of a carrier, but cannot engage the enemy without a complex and effective organization supporting him. You may not have the resources of the USS Harry S Truman behind you, but a negotiation is the point at which the resources of the organization engage with other organizations, the outcome of negotiations will therefore determine the performance of the organization. The international negotiator therefore needs to understand the long-term issues affecting the people and organizations with which he or she is dealing. This site therefore contains links to sites dealing with important socio-political issues such as AIDS, terrorism, and population change. The negotiator also needs to have a creative approach to the task of negotiation, many successes come from creating win-win strategies. If you find yourself always in head to head fights with the other side take up boxing, it will give you more scope for your aggression - though you will need the skills to defeat the bullies that you encounter from time to time during negotiation. The best tactic with bullies is to defeat them in front of their colleagues, they will then normally fail to attend the next negotiating session. Their main weakness is that they rarely know when to stop; they enjoy their aggression too much, and often step outside acceptable behavior. Attack them for their unacceptable behavior.go to top

Corporate Failures

The corporate executives who undertake deals and acquisitions have to understand that failure can destroy their own companies, this is not a game. A recent example of a corporate fall from grace is the destruction of Marconi plc, when known as GEC, it had been one of the powerhouse companies of the British economy. As the result of a series of high price acquisitions the net worth of Marconi plc, in a year the share price fell from 1,250 pence (£12.50) to 29 pence in September 2001, by 19 August 2002 the share price was one penny (1p). On 18 August 2002 The Sunday Telegraph had reported that, "Marconi is preparing to put itself into voluntary liquidation this week. This will be the final chapter of a sorry industrial saga which saw one of the best British corporate names laid low by ill-judged takeovers."

The importance of a wider view

In order to create an effective commercial infrastructure it is necessary to understand the communication systems and organization of the corporation. The subject of negotiation is therefore only the tip of the corporate iceberg.This Site is arbitrarily divided into six main subject areas, plus two resource sections, countries and library, but these are interlinked and together provide links to other resources.go to top

The game and its rules

In order to negotiate anything other than the simplest sale it is essential to understood the nature of person and/or organization you are dealing with, to know how to communicate effectively during the negotiation process and to have the ability to see the patterns that emerge during the process. There are a number of "plays" that the negotiator can use during the process, which in many ways is like a game (chess or football). The negotiator needs to have a clear objective and to develop his strategy and tactics during the course of the negotiations. The objective is normally to secure a deal that meets certain minimum terms, in the case of business a rate of return on the investment, in the case of political negotiations there can be other constraints; for example in the case of the Anglo-Spanish talks over Gibraltar the British Government could force the population of Gibraltar to accept a handover of the Rock to Spain without their consent. See The Times 15 May 2002 -It's all going pear-shaped for Gibraltar negotiators . These talks have now been abandoned, following a referendum in Gibraltar.In the case of negotiations for the creation of an alliance or business partnership the objective may be open-ended, but in my experience successful negotiations normally work well if the parties agree the main terms early on, often written down in a document which is expressed to be subject to contract, or non-binding, or a letter of intent. The legal status of such documents often being doubtful. If the essence of the deal can be captured early in the process on a few sheets of paper the negotiations can then focus on how to make these arrangements work, rather than fighting point by point for advantage; this works particularly well where a joint venture is being negotiated.

Culture and psychology

There is stress throughout this Site on understanding the culture and psychological makeup of the organization and people you are negotiating. In military terms you need intelligence on the other party, because without that you cannot understand his objectives and the restrictions on his negotiating position.

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