In the last part of our 3-part series, we will today look at the right outline and the advantages of a change of perspective.

The negotiation as such

A negotiation often begins with one party submitting its negotiating position in writing to the other or having sent it beforehand. This document may be a prefabricated draft contract or it may be in the form of key terms of the transaction. Such key terms would be, for example, in the case of a company purchase, the purchase price and the warranty provisions. In the case of a licence agreement, they are the type of licences, the scope of the know-how, the amount of the licence fees and the duration of the contract. 

1. exploring:

  • Find out what the other side thinks
  • Explore the interests of the other side
  • Take the perspective of the other side often

2. communication: 

  • Ask questions
  • Listen actively
  • Briefly summarise statements made by your negotiating partners in your own words
  • Use examples and use the meta-level communication tool (this is not aimed at what we talk about, but how we talk to each other).

3. the counterpart: 

  • Consider possible personal backgrounds
  • Pay attention to how the person(s) is/are involved in the company

4. individuality: 

  • Pay attention to fairness
  • Use humour (appropriate and in moderation)

5. the argumentation: 

  • Compare what is comparable
  • Argument of reciprocity - putting oneself in the other person's shoes and vice versa ("tit for tat").


In the context of preparing for the negotiation, it has already been explained how important it is to structure the negotiation material correctly. Now, at the stage of the actual negotiation, this results in yet another advantage:
As a rule, the parties argue about the content, but not about the form, because in the latter substantive issues do not seem to arise yet. Therefore, the other side is much more likely to agree to an outline proposed at the beginning than to be persuaded by anything of substance.

In this context, it is very helpful to go to the meta-level and talk about issues, not content and details. In this way, the topic gains formal leadership over the content and you have influence over when you address certain topics. It is helpful to divide the negotiation into sub-sections according to the figure below.

"Perspective taking"

There is a way to separate the two levels more easily: Put yourself in the other person's shoes and look at the negotiation from their perspective.

With "perspective taking" it is easier to recognise, 

  • how the other side reacts to its own offers,
  • whether their arguments are conclusive, and
  • whether what she says and what she really means are consistent or contradictory.

If one uncovers contradictions that are based solely on the other party's presentation, it will be very difficult for them to defend themselves against it. You beat them with their own weapons, i.e. with their own arguments, and thereby also gain legitimacy.

In order to understand the other side's point of view correctly, you should let them finish and listen attentively. For listening and understanding does not mean agreeing with a specific opinion. Rather, one gains the opportunity to transform personal attacks into a factual discussion.

Listening attentively and letting others finish helps the other side to vent aggression in conflicts. And these dissipate extremely quickly if they are met with interested silence. The other party expects contradiction, which it can process into "ammunition" itself. If this is missing, even the sharpest attack fizzles out very quickly. The possible escalation of conflicts is thus avoided, emotions are channelled and controlled.

Please consider: In few other areas can so much be gained so quickly, but also lost, as in international negotiations. In the next issue we will present further relevant aspects of an international negotiation with the help of a case study on licensing.

This 3-part series has presented valuable suggestions for successful international negotiation and shown what is important in detail. Please always remember: In few other areas can so much be won, but also lost, as quickly as here.

To the last article Rules of the Game for International Negotiation (Part 1)

To the last article Rules of the Game for International Negotiation (Part 2)

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