Negotiating In China: 10 Rules for Success

As part of any good negotiating knowing the rules is a great place to start, but with China you need extra support. With the economic growth that China has seen more and more companies are negotiating with Chinese businesses it is a good idea to know the top rules for success.

1. Manage the Expectations

Maintaining a public appearance that everything is harmonious and going smooth is a key trait of Chinese business culture. Rarely will they disagree with you or your company in public and look to keep up appearances independent of how the negotiations are actually playing out. When you are treated with a great deal of respect and lavish compliments you may be tempted to believe that the negotiating will be easy or that you have an agreement before it is signed. In China, it is important to understand the difference between the business pleasantries and the negotiating. Understanding the true intention behind the words will get you much further than expecting a cake walk in the board room.

2. Develop a negotiating strategy

Working with a Chinese company through a negotiation period can be a long arduous battle that gets drawn out for much longer than expected. There is no such thing as phone negotiations and business still runs with face to face meetings. As memories can fade or change over time it is important to keep detailed and accurate meeting notes as you work through your strategy. The more that you can detail your notes the better you can leverage them later, especially if you can get the other side to sign off on the notes as well.

3. Chinese Businesses use a team of Negotiators

As with most meetings and business interactions there is a key decision maker even if there are five or more people at the negotiating table. Figuring out which person is the real decision maker can give you a better idea of how to focus your negotiations.

4. Build a negotiating team that incorporates Chinese business people and the Government

Having these people on your side at the negotiation table can give you the edge that you need to effectively compete with the Chinese negotiators across the table. Leveraging any business relationships that you already have in China, such as other businesses or governmental agencies can help support your negotiations.

5. Keep in mind the relativity of money

Most Chinese business people have a lower cost perspective to money than people that have grown up in America or Europe. When you go to China and see a 100 yuan bill you may instinctually covert that to about $15 USD, where as a Chinese person sees a $100 bill in the same note. This may cause a negotiating stumbling block, as they have a fundamentally different cost perspective.

6. Respect Goes a Long Way in China

Making sure that you keep the cultural norms in mind when you are doing business with the Chinese will keep you from embarrassing yourself or ruining a deal before you even get into the negotiation room. Respect is a big part of the way that business is done in China. By taking the extra effort to show the utmost respect to your Chinese counterparts you will be able to get to know them on a more personal level. This will translate into a better deal for both parties and make the whole process more personable. Leaving your ego at the door and just trying to connect with your potential business partners will help to take the negotiations to a more amicable place. Just remember to stay respectful if you end up going out for a session of baijiu drinking.

7. Use your listening skills and Sleep on any big decisions

As previously mentioned the negotiations in China tend to be drawn out in comparison to the speed of business in the Western world. Take full advantage of this slower pace by listening and digesting all of the information that the Chinese negotiation team is willing to present. Truly listening and then taking an extra night to sleep on any big decision will help you to make more informed decisions with a clearer head. The opportunity to take this extra time is a gift that you should definitely take advantage of.

8. Keep cool when they start pressuring about artificial deadlines

As the process takes a longer time you may be tempted to get frustrated and start pushing the process forward. This practice rarely ends with positive results and may be playing into the Chinese’s negotiation team’s strategy. It is far more advantageous for you to take you time and try to cooperate while still sticking to your negotiation strategies.

9. Try to Keep the Negotiations Reasonable

Again if you are getting frustrated or just want to turn up the fire on the negotiations this may bring them to a halt without much discussion on why. The Chinese negotiation team prefers to talk out and discuss with reason all of the decisions, but if you jump to an unreasonable stance without it, the whole process will start to break down. Take advantage of the extra time for communication and fully cooperate within your negotiation strategy.

10. There are plenty of other businesses to negotiate with

Keeping the option for doing business with a competitor of the company that you are negotiating with will allow you to stay more indifferent and less emotional during the negotiations. Using this in conjunction with your outcome strategy will allow you to negotiate in a way that can leverage the situation instead of feeling pressured to agree to disadvantageous terms.

Success – Achieve It By “Being Present”

I was at the gym this morning, walking in a daze on the treadmill and wandering what I would have to do as soon as I got through my office door. My mind was miles away from what I was doing but surely when you’re on a treadmill that doesn’t matter, does it? Your legs pump away all by themselves, the treadmill sets the pace and you don’t even have to think about direction – it’s always straight ahead. Kind of like life really. We get so used to the treadmill phenomenon that we go to auto pilot and just plod onward. This is comfortable, yes, but it has it’s drawbacks.

Focusing works

Did you know that recent research says that concentrating (staying focussed) on the muscles you are using during a given exercise increases the effects of that exercise! Think about that. Focusing on each muscle group and what it’s doing at the time (visioning) will increase your strength, fitness and results more than working harder or longer.

I’ve actually known about this theory for a while now. I call it “being present” and try to apply it to every aspect of my life. It’s why I gave myself a gentle mental shake this morning when I found I’d zoned out. For me, being present in ever task I am engaged in is the number one strategy for improving efficiency and effectiveness. It’s the very foundation of being well organised. That doesn’t mean I can’t multitask – sometimes it’s unavoidable. I just try hard not to.

Multi tasking is old hat

Despite the rave reviews of multi-tasking, I personally believe it to be a poor strategy – often a harmful one. It scatters your energy, it tires you more quickly, it undermines quality, and it creates poor relationships (try telling a five year old that you’re really listening to their story, while chopping the veggies, feeding the cat and yelling at your teenager). Five year olds understand the importance of being present. Watch one building a house of Legos, or mixing mud pies, or cutting out shapes. They “get it”. If it was only that easy for us adults.

Well it may not be easy but it is the best strategy you could employ to improve your outcomes – in every area of your life. It applies to fitness as well as finances. It applies to winning new customers as well as finding a new love. It concentrates your energy, maximizes your efforts and creates a positive, calm environment which enhances success. Want to try it? Here’s a list of things you can do to help develop the skill (or is that art?) of being present.

1. Maintain eye contact with the person you’re speaking with and be alert to their body language.

2. Keep a close watch on your mind chatter (the conversation in your head) and consciously turn it off – it will be a real effort at first, but the chatter reduces as you get better at this technique.

3. NEVER look at your computer screen while you’re speaking to some one (either on the phone or in person). Use the off button if you have to. This applies to reading documents, or any other task which divides your attention. Except if you want to take notes of the conversation you’re engaged in.

4. NEVER do two things at once. Figure out which has priority FOR YOU at this time, and either delegate the other or put it off for a while.

5. Be totally inflexible with “me time”. Plan for it, use it, enjoy it and NEVER make excuses for having it. You need to regularly fill the tank if you’re going to power the engine!

There are of course many other things you can do, but start with these first. Notice the difference that being present makes in your day. Write down the specific differences, the benefits, the ways that your day improves and share them with some one. Perhaps they’d like to try it too and we could start a world wide epidemic of being present.

Negotiating Skills for Real Estate Professionals

Negotiating skills are crucial to dealing with every-day situations, both at work and at home. When I first became active in creative real estate, I realized my negotiating skill set was very weak and needed immediate improvement. As any seasoned, real estate professional will tell you, honing your negotiation skills is like giving yourself an immediate raise. And learning to listen effectively is one of the most important skills you can master.

Clearly the skills involved in negotiation and effective listening are close cousins. Both are vital for a successful career. Henry Kissinger, one of the United States most respected negotiators, commented that listening is the key to success at the bargaining table.

In negotiations, we often concentrate on positions rather than interests. The result is an outcome that does not extract the greatest possible value out of the process. Moreover, you may inadvertently damage an important relationship. Effective negotiation dramatically affects the perceived value of the goods or services we are buying or selling. When you’re selling, it raises the perceived value of your product or service. When buying, it can lower the perceived value. Whether buying or selling, the style of negotiation is of prime importance.

Every negotiation involves an element of conflict: Two sides must face-off before any negotiation can begin. When a high degree of concern is expressed for the substance of the negotiation and a low degree of concern is expressed for the relationship of the parties, a defeatist behaviour pattern is produced. This is characterized by pressure, intimidation, adversarial relationships and an attempt to get as much as possible as soon as possible.

Avoiding defeatist attitudes at the negotiating table is simply a matter of a little planning. Find something in the deal that is not important to you but is important for your counterpart. When things are getting sticky and about to spiral out of control, concede the unimportant element to your counterpart. Often times, this is enough to clinch the deal in your favor. It will, at least, allow you to proceed in a more constructive manner.

And while your planning, ensure you have an exit strategy. If everything goes against you, you will be saved by this little bit of contingency planning.

Improving your communication skills means not just becoming a better listener, but learning to listen to what is not being said. It is said that 90% of communication is non-verbal. If you’ve nothing to say, stay silent. Learn to emphasize or reinforce what you are saying through your body language and demeanor. Carefully watch your conterpart’s body language to gauge what they are really thinking.

As always, practice makes perfect so set some time aside with your colleagues to work through some negotiating games and training. Your negotiating skills will improve quickly if you practice when you’re not under the gun.

Last but not least, the better your negotiating skill set, the easier and more enjoyable your relationships will be. You will find that it’s easier to agree and, more importantly, to disagree with each other. Ultimately, you’ll be far better prepared to negotiate the curves that life throws your way.