Tag Archives: negotiations

Negotiations Are Easier With the ‘3 Ls’ Technique

"Let's talk negotiations"

“Let’s talk negotiations”

On April 30th 2015 an organization I am proudly a part of, YEDI – York Entrepreneurship Development Institute, held its inaugural alumni meeting at York University (Toronto, Ontario). As a Program Advisor and Business Communications Specialist I was asked to partake in the Panel Discussion along with the other YEDI Program Advisors to share insights and tips with entrepreneurs on the very popular but somewhat mysterious and intimidating topic of “negotiations”.

I posted an article on LinkedIn, so please follow this link to read it – thank you.


If you like it and find the tips useful, please like and share.  🙂

Body Language Tips for the Boardroom

Is it a good thing to centre your hands while speaking?

Hello fellow communicators!

Do you often wonder how you could improve the results of your meetings and presentations in the boardroom?  Do you wish you could read the body language and non-verbal communications of business people across the table from you during negotiations?  Well a global company called FIRMEX believes these are valuable skills to learn and partnered up with “yours truly” to create a couple of no-cost body language videos.  Please watch and enjoy these vital and easy-to-apply tips to modify your non-verbal communication and gestures, as well as become more attuned to others in business.  Body language isn’t everything, but it’s a very large part of effective business communication!  Click the link below to see the video on Firmex’s blog:


I hope you enjoy the tips and more importantly put them to good use immediately!

How to Deal With Classic Chinese Negotiating Tactics | chinafilmbiz 中国电影业务

How to Deal With Classic Chinese Negotiating Tactics | chinafilmbiz 中国电影业务
By Robert Cain for China Film Biz
September 3, 2012
While preparing recently for negotiations with a Chinese distributor that wants to acquire a film I’m producing, I found myself nodding in agreement with advice offered by attorney Steve Dickinson in an article he wrote for the Harris Moure law firm’s ChinaLawBlog. Dickinson describes several business negotiating tactics that are often used by Chinese businesses to win major concessions from their foreign counterparts, and he sets forth a few rules foreign companies can follow to counter those tactics.
With permission from Dan Harris of Harris Moure, I have summarized several key points from Dickinson’s article below.

In negotiating with Chinese companies, we often see the following tactics from the Chinese side:

  • The most common tactic is for the Chinese company to seek to wear the foreign side down. This approach has two variants. In the first variant, the Chinese side relentlessly introduces new issues as quickly as old ones are resolved, resulting in an endless negotiation. The second variant is for the Chinese side to make wildly unreasonable demands and then increasingly resist the objections and counter-proposals of the foreign company. Both variants are designed to wear down the foreign side in a war of attrition until they become exhausted and finally capitulate to the Chinese side’s demands. Successful use of this strategy relies on the foreign negotiators’ disadvantages with regard to time and expense. The foreigners are typically busy people with too much to do and who rely on costly attorneys to do much of their bidding, while the negotiators on the Chinese side are relatively low-paid functionaries who have no other job but to instigate and manage such endless negotiations.
  • Another effective tactic is the artificial deadline. Under this approach, at the very beginning of the negotiating process the Chinese side sets a fixed date for a public signing ceremony, at which high-level officers from both sides will participate amidst much pomp and circumstance. The date is set far enough in advance to ensure that parties negotiating in good faith would reasonably expect to reach an agreement. But then the Chinese side ensures that no agreement is reached,  either by engaging in re-negotiations and other delay tactics, or by refusing to concede on key points. Then, just a day or two before the signing ceremony, the Chinese side announces that the contract must be revised on one or more key issues in a way that entirely benefits the Chinese side, often because of some eleventh hour “emergency” in the form of a demand from a “government regulator” or an outside source such as a bank or insurance company. The Chinese side explains by saying, “we don’t want to go back on our word, but these other folks have forced us to do this.” Again, the plan is that the combination of the pressure of the impending signing ceremony and the general fatigue of the negotiators will result in a crucial concession favoring the Chinese side.
  • A third technique is for the Chinese side to revisit the key issues after the contract has been signed. In this strategy, after much negotiating the Chinese side signs a contract, conceding on the key issues. With the negotiation now behind them, the foreign side’s key negotiators, advisors and lawyers move on to work on other projects. After the agreed project has been started, and the foreign side has committed its people, funding, and other resources, the Chinese side then announces that certain key provisions of the contract must be changed, again, usually claiming this change is mandated by law, government regulators or banks and insurance companies. The only foreign personnel left at this point are the ones responsible for the project’s success, who have a strong incentive to allow for the change so the project can proceed. Often, these people do not fully understand the implications of the change the Chinese side is now demanding. They typically present the change to busy upper management as a minor technical revision and it gets signed. Everyone remembers how the initial negotiation was so troublesome and nobody wants to bring in “legal” to start the process over again.

Though crude and obvious, the three tactics work wonderfully well, so Chinese companies can be counted on to employ them. There is one simple antidote for each tactic:

  1. If the Chinese side uses the “wear ‘em down” technique, the foreign side should simply refuse to participate. The foreign side should firmly state its position and not bend unless and until the Chinese side agrees or at least moves closer to the foreign side’s position.
  2. Never agree to a fixed signing date. Make it clear that the signing ceremony will be scheduled only after the contract has completed final negotiations. Never allow the Chinese side to use a deadline as a tool. This seems like obvious advice, but we see the rule constantly violated. Chinese companies love signing ceremonies and foreigners fall into the trap because they do not want to cause offense at the start. The Chinese have contempt for a sucker, so refusing to go along on this obvious technique will not cause offense: it will instead earn the respect of the Chinese side.
  3. Make it clear that there will be no changes to the contract after signing and any attempt by the Chinese side to change the contract will be treated as a material breach, leading to termination and a lawsuit for damages. Chinese companies are well known for using the signing of a contract as the start of a new negotiating process, not the termination. If the foreign party is willing to accept this approach, then a clear procedure must be instituted on the foreign side that brings back in the legal and China advisory team. The neutral players on the foreign side must make the decisions. The decisions should not be made by the foreign side players who have already become committed to the project.

When faced with the difficulties of language and cultural barriers, we sometimes forget ourselves and allow for tactics and behavior that we would never tolerate in our home territory. Bearing these simple rules in mind can help to reduce the frustration of a prolonged, seemingly unfair negotiation.
Remember too that your Chinese counterpart may have very different motivations than yours and a different context for the negotiation. I have sometimes found myself seeking a harmonious, “win-win” resolution only to learn that the Chinese side was operating under a “winner takes all” strategy.
As Henry Kissinger wrote in his superb book “On China,” Chinese statesmen have a long and successful history of dealing with foreigners, one that is informed by the writings and teachings of such brilliant strategists as Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War:

To Sun Tzu… the successful [negotiator] waits before charging headlong into battle. He shies away from an enemy’s strength; he spends his time observing and cultivating changes in the strategic landscape. He studies the enemy’s preparations and his morale, husbands resources and defines them carefully, and plays on his opponent’s psychological weaknesses—until at last he perceives the opportune moment to strike the enemy at his weakest point. He then deploys his resources swiftly and suddenly, rushing along the path of least resistance, in an assertion of superiority that careful timing and preparation have rendered a fait accompli. The Art of War articulates a doctrine less of territorial conquest than of psychological dominance.

I’m not suggesting that every Chinese negotiation should be viewed as a battle of life and death. But neither should a foreign negotiator assume that their Chinese counterpart shares similar motivations, values, or business ethics. Anyone can and should benefit from Sun Tzu’s sage advice, that foreknowledge and preparation are crucial to a successful outcome.
Robert Cain is a producer and entertainment industry consultant who has been doing business in China since 1987. He can be reached at rob@pacificbridgepics.com and at www.pacificbridgepics.com

How to Negotiate without Compromising Everything

Hello everyone,

How do you feel about this word ‘compromise’? Does it have a positive meaning for you, where you say to yourself “okay great, now we both (or all) will win. I love win-win situations”. Or does the word ‘compromise’ have a negative connotation to you, where you think “oh great, now I have to give up something I really want or something I worked hard for (or otherwise feel entitled to). That is not fair to me. Why can’t the laws of social Darwinism apply, and may the best negotiator win?”

The simple answer is this: When you win, you feel good. When you lose, you feel bad. Now if you have the chance to make another person either feel good or feel bad, what should you do? What is the moral thing to do? Their emotional wellness is in your hands. Be responsible.

You should not willingly cause someone pain, suffering and emotional damage if you can avoid it. That is why I am suggesting you try to preserve people’s dignity and feelings even when negotiating hard.

Notice that I did not say to roll over. It is still quite acceptable to negotiate hard, to use persuasion and influence tactics like NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), and to protect your interests. What I am specifically saying is to not use unfounded aggression, aggravation or bullying to get your way, whatever the cost.

What is the cost? It could be friendship, business contacts, neighbours, or more.

What can we do instead? Negotiate but do not insult. This is the difference between being assertive and aggressive. Assertive people stand up but stay calm. Aggressive people do not remain calm. They let their emotions overtake them, and the results are often painful. Go after what you want but with respect. Speak with respect and your opponent will have no choice but to respect you. Have a discussion, not an argument.

May the best person win – or may you both or all win!

Confidently Asking for a Raise in Salary

Asking for a raise can be very uncomfortable, especially if you are a bit shy, new to the company or unsure of your value/worth. Let me give you some hints that have helped me along my career path, and even now during self-employment.

1 – know the industry standards. You have to know what a typical person in that role makes, so that you understand the value of the job. What is the fair market value?

2 – ask for more than you think you deserve. In other words, be confident in your negotiations and valuations.

3 – critically understand why you deserve a raise, or a high starting salary/wage. Think hard about what kind of great worker you are or will be, and convince yourself first that you are worth what you are asking for. Be prepared to verbalize it all, your soft skills and hard skills, with concrete, easy to understand (and remember) examples.

4 – When justifying your newly asked-for raise, do not explain why you need the money. Instead explain from the company’s point of view all the benefits you have brought them, or how you have made life easier/more profitable for them. This is a simple rule of persuasion and negotiation – make it about THEM, not YOU. Also keep in mind the formula E + P = P. Efficiency + Productivity = Profitability. So therefore you must make it clear to the person who is considering hiring you (as an employee or as a consultant/contractor) or who has already hired you (i.e. your manager) how you have made the company money by being efficient and productive. This is a simple formula to remember that you should keep in the back of your head when answering interview questions.

I remember an ex-girlfriend of mine who was so efficient and productive at her company that they threw money at her to keep her, giving her the first raise in less than 3 months. When she had to quit they tried to throw more money at her to stay. When she really had to leave, the company had to hire 3 people to replace her! Talk about making yourself indispensable!

I can also tell you a story about my first office job. I found out the industry standard, and when it came time to answering the question of how much money I wanted, I ‘overshot’ confidently. (I had a good interview though as I was well prepared).
The manager said she couldn’t start me off with that much, but gave me the highest starting salary allowed by the company, which was just a little less than what I had asked for. I was confident in my answer, but did not demand it, plus I backed it up with presumably good interview answers.

A couple months later the company hired a new girl for a similar position who was fully bilingual in French, which I was not. This is well known to be a competitive advantage. Do you know what? They started her off 3 grand a year LESS than me! Why? Because when the question came to her “what kind of salary do you expect?” she answered “well I’m just a new graduate, so whatever you can start me with is fine with me. I’m just happy to be working full-time.” That may not be a direct quote but you get the idea. The company will save money if you let them!

Now, as a self-employed coach & trainer, I ask for what I feel my time is worth, and 99% of the time get it without argument. I know what I’m worth, what my material is worth, what the results of coaching/training is worth to the individual or company, etc. I confidently quote people a price and they accept – but I back it up too!

Anyway enough money-talk for now. The point is you must know your worth, be able to ask for it or more, and be able to justify it both verbally and with your actions.

Now go get your money!