REAL-WORLD INSIGHTS

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Published: May 27 , 2016
Author: Robin Copeland

I do not suppose that there is a perfect way of sacking someone. It is never nice and never easy – either for the manager doing the deed or indeed the victim.

Published: May 02 , 2016
Author: Stephen White

Predictions are opinions, a view about what will happen in the future. Even when they are based on lots of research and historical evidence they are still only opinions. They often fail to come true.

Published: Apr 04 , 2016
Author: Robin Copland

The great thing about negotiating is that it enables people – often from diverse backgrounds and polarised positions – to come together and strike deals to the long-term benefit of both parties. You do not have to agree to do business or sign treaties. The whole process of trading enables participants to park their differences for the greater good.

Published: Mar 15 , 2016
Author: Stephen White

Residents on the Scottish Island of Lewis share a familial heritage with Donald Trump. When asked about the front runner for the Republican presidential nomination they were less than enthusiastic about his bragging and his style. It is the kind of behaviour that we regularly see at the negotiating table...

Published: Mar 07 , 2016
Author: 

When are you at your most creative? It is a question I often ask in the classroom when I am running negotiation skills development classes. Two retorts I often hear are: “Why?” (people are reluctant to answer unless they know why I want to know, cynical bunch) or “When I am under extreme pressure.” Let’s look at these one by one...

Published: Feb 29 , 2016
Author: Stephen White

Last weekend David Cameron brought back a deal from his summit with the leaders of the 27 other EU members, on the basis of which he felt he could recommend to voters that Britain should stay in the EU. As predicted a number of his cabinet colleagues, and many others, came out publicly with the opposite recommendation. The electorate will vote In or Out in a referendum on June 23rd, and until then both sides will batter us with facts and figures about the dangers of taking the opposite position to their own.

Published: Feb 17 , 2016
Author: David Bannister

A few years ago I read an interesting article based on the work of a renowned US business school which gave the results of studies into acquisitions and mergers in international business over a period of years. The conclusion, briefly summarised, was that what these deals produced in practice was a long way short of what had been predicted for them at the outset – fewer than a third of deals met the expectations which had been heralded for them when they were being contemplated and shareholders were being convinced to endorse them.

Published: Feb 04 , 2016
Author: Jared Bamford

I went recently went back home to New Zealand to spend time with my family. As usual there were plenty of opportunities for in-depth conversations over numerous cups of coffee and home cooked meals. On one such occasion my father told me a story about his first job as a Postie, when he was in his mid-teens.

Published: Jan 27 , 2016
Author: Stephen Walken

It occurred to me, that the most prominent current industrial dispute in England, between the Government and the Junior Doctors, might be an excellent vehicle to analyse how Millennials (defined typically as born after 1983) negotiate, and whether Millennial traits have impacted on the negotiations.

Published: Jan 15 , 2016
Author: Stephen White

One of the defining qualities of a good negotiator is the ability to manufacture unusual tradeable variables apparently out of thin air. An example of this is how time is used as a variable. Most people would agree that a day comprises 24 hours. But management consultants know that a day in terms of charging fees is more likely to be 7 hours, so clients who need more than 7 hours find themselves paying for more than a day...

Published: Jan 04 , 2016
Author: Simon Letchford

As you recover from the holiday season, you'll probably decide to make a few New Year's resolutions, in your personal life and for your business. We thought you might like to consider one of these five as an option for your new year's resolutions for 2016, just in case you partied a little too hard and are having trouble making good decisions...

Published: Dec 09 , 2015
Author: Simon Kelland

Most "negotiations" with retailers are simple haggles; you don't need to deal with them and they don't need to sell to you so it's simply a case of trying to get the maximum discount in a one off sale. Not a lot of skill needed to do haggle other than doing a bit of homework on the market so you know what a good price looks like, having the courage to propose the price you're prepared to pay and the fortitude to walk away if you can't get a deal (assuming you have the time and energy to go down the street to another retailer to do it all over again)..

Published: Nov 27 , 2015
Author: Alan Smith

The daughter of a friend of mine decided to buy a new fridge. One of those big American style fridges with ice dispenser, flashing lights, and a disco ball. I exaggerate a little (not that much to be honest), but you get the point. Her issue was what to do with the old one...

Published: Nov 20 , 2015
Author: Robin Copland, Stephen White

George Santanaya’s maxim that ‘those who fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors are destined to repeat them’ has a corollary. We should use the successes of the past and repeat our behaviour with the problems of today. In particular, can we replicate the negotiating behaviour which brought about the Irish peace agreement to effect a negotiated settlement in the Middle East, and stop the carnage of Paris on 13/11, perpetrated by ISIS?

Published: Nov 13 , 2015
Author: David Bannister

I wrote in this blog about three weeks ago about the commitment given by the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, to write to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, setting out the demands which the UK would make in its negotiations with the EU prior to a referendum of the British people some time before the end of 2017 which will decide if the UK remains a member of the EU...

Published: Nov 06 , 2015
Author: Alan Smith

Am I reading this right? We're all getting fat because we eat too much and don't exercise enough. Right? Well, not if you look at the debate about fat versus sugar now playing out. For years it was thought fat was bad for you: it made you get fat, so low-fat food was good. But the 'fat is bad' dogma is being widely challenged. Carbohydrates, including sugar, are increasingly viewed as the evil, fattening, toxic ingredient...

Published: Oct 30 , 2015
Author: Stephen White

It is fashionable for radicals to kick against the political establishment... Similarly it is fashionable for journalists to kick big business. Starbucks for avoiding tax, VW for tucking-up consumers, Tesco for manipulating their suppliers into unfavourable trade terms, and FIFA (yes, FIFA is first and foremost a business) for corrupt practices.

Published: Oct 23 , 2015
Author: David Bannister

Daniel Hannan is a British Member of the European Parliament (MEP), an institution for which he seems to have little warmth (as do quite a number of other British MEPs). The UK has announced its intention to renegotiate the terms of its membership of the European Union (EU) and to put the issue to a referendum in the next couple of years. The tactics of all of this are of more than passing interest to a negotiator...

Published: Oct 16 , 2015
Author: 

UK FMCG giant Tesco’s travails over the last few months have been many and varied. Recently they topped a grocers code adjudicator list for supplier complaints an in a recent survey only Iceland received a lower score from its suppliers, it must be cold there. For those that operate in this environment I imagine that this comes as no surprise and to be honest in my experience Tesco are not markedly worse than any of the Big 4. They all appear to operate on the basis that they have all the power and they can break and fix supplier relationships at will but is the worm turning?

Published: Sep 25 , 2015
Author: Romana Henry

I go running regularly with a good friend and neighbour who happens to be a criminal defence lawyer. She is married to another lawyer who works in property and estate settlement etc. On our runs, we exchange tips and advice. She tells me how expensive it would be to divorce my husband, why I shouldn’t run a red light, and why helping my 17 year old daughter to obtain fake I.D. to get into pubs really isn’t a good idea. Why I really must make a will soon, when to put my house on the market, and what home improvements not to bother with. In exchange I tell her how to get a better deal in her various negotiations...

Published: Sep 18 , 2015
Author: Simon Letchford

In 1978, US President Jimmy Carter brokered the first peace agreement between Egypt and a free Jewish nation in over 2,000 years. If email had been widely available, do you think he could have used it to save everyone 13 days at Camp David? Many clients ask me whether they should negotiate by email, expecting me to say no. My answer is always the same – “Absolutely. Sometimes.” Here are some trade-offs to consider before you press SEND.

Published: Sep 07 , 2015
Author: Stephen White, Alan Smith

Ever run out of petrol? Well it seems that more and more of us have. Last year over 800,000 motorists reportedly ran dry. Research shows the number running out of petrol or diesel has risen every year since 2011, when the figure was a third lower. Men made up most of the 827,000 who ignored or chanced their arm when the fuel warning light came on. Are we becoming more risk friendly, foolish or price sensitive? Short answer - all 3.

Published: Aug 28 , 2015
Author: Robin Copland

I was interested by a report I read on the NHS website on 21 August in which Public Health England published an “evidence review” about e-cigarettes, stating that they were 95% safer than cigarettes and that, further, they were an effective quitting aid for smokers. As a result of the review, e-cigarettes are to be licensed and regulated as an aid to quit smoking from 2016...

Published: Aug 21 , 2015
Author: Alan Smith

A few years ago I was talking to a guy at a dinner party and he, in the effort to engage in small talk, asked me what I did for a living. When I told him that I trained and consulted in the area of negotiation skills he was intrigued but also fairly dismissive. His view was that he never negotiated. He always got his own way by simply making an ultimatum. His view was that agreeing to negotiate was a sign of weakness and that when dealing with his suppliers he simply told them what they had to do and they did it, or he went elsewhere. I asked how that worked out for him....

Published: Aug 17 , 2015
Author: Stephen White

Last Wednesday evening was a bad time for two different groups of Londoners. At five o’clock the doors of several walk-in centres run by a high profile children’s charity called Kid’s Company closed for the last time, and thousands of children who depended on the charity for both physical and educational support were stranded. There had been suspicions about the financial affairs of this charity for some time – allegations that it was not well managed and that it was not in control of its finances. Central government was a major contributor and when the media picked up stories of financial irregularities they and other generous donors began to think twice about their funding... because the charity had virtually no reserves it had to close. It is unlikely to re-open, at least in its present form.

Published: Aug 07 , 2015
Author: Mike Freedman

I was recently invited to teach at a company that purchases the debts of financial institutions and then pursues the people that owe the money. This company buys the debts through a tender process and they then present the debtors with the facts about the law and the unpleasant consequences of non-payment. They called Scotwork because they wanted to improve their negotiations with debtors. They said that they were talking to a number of companies who had issued quotations to them for negotiation training. I told them as politely as possible that they were wasting their money...

Published: Jul 31 , 2015
Author: Sam Macbeth

Although news of a pay differential between men and women doing the same or similar jobs is nothing new,recent studies suggest that even when women are on the employer’s side of a negotiation, men can feel more threatened by a female boss, and tend to negotiate using more extreme positions...

Published: Jul 24 , 2015
Author: David Bannister

I was reading my newspaper recently and came across an article written by a journalist who was celebrating the demise of the, as she called it, ‘shiny suited car salesman’ whose sexist attitudes have apparently in the past been responsible for women being urged to do things like ‘discuss their purchases with the man of the house’ before making a decision. This article set out some, to me, quite eye-opening statistics for the UK market in new and ‘pre-owned’ (it’s what they call second hand here) cars. The internet has liberated people to change their purchasing habits when they buy a car. In the days before the internet dominated our buying approach, the average Briton buying a car made five visits to a dealership before making a purchase. Now, most of us do our research on line...

Published: Jul 17 , 2015
Author: Stephen White

Two negotiated deals of historic significance. One between Greece and the EU/Eurozone, the other between Iran and the P5+1. Both are hailed as a victory for diplomacy. Both are rubbish. Both are being derided and disowned in all quarters. Both are disintegrating as the ink dries. What do we learn?

Published: Jul 10 , 2015
Author: Robin Copland

A mate of mine recently visited New York on business and found himself with a spare half day or so, needing to be filled. It being February, the joys of Central Park were lost on him so, after a moment’s thought, he took himself off to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, there to see their collection of JMW Turner’s paintings in gallery 808. It’s on the second floor; a bit of a hike from the front door if we are going to be honest, but there we are. He’d seen the film (Mr Turner; worth a look if you haven’t seen it) and he was determined to see three of the great man’s paintings that hitherto had escaped his first-hand study...

Published: Jun 19 , 2015
Author: Stephen White

How many deadlines have been and gone in the continuing saga of the economic chaos in Greece? I would suggest there have been so many that we no longer believe that any of them really mattered – or ever will matter in the future.The crescendo of press speculation in recent days indicates yet again that the media believes we might be getting close to a crisis point...

Published: Jun 12 , 2015
Author: Stephen White

A woman tries to board an overcrowded bus at the bus depot. The passengers bar her way. She protests. ‘I must be allowed to get on this bus’ she says. ‘Why’, the other passengers reply. ‘What makes you so important that you should take priority over others who are already on the bus?’ ‘Because I’m the driver’ she says. Two weeks ago we saw Sepp Blatter exercising his rights as the ‘driver’ to stay on the bus, even though more and more of his fellow passengers were uncomfortable with his insistence to do so.

Published: May 22 , 2015
Author: Stephen White

A recent article in the New York Times has some food for thought for wise negotiators. The authors pose this question – How do you motivate people to do the right thing when the ‘market’ doesn’t work? Their context is the chronic shortage of water in California. This has now become so bad that new mandatory water-reduction regulations came into effect on April 1st. Most of these appear to concern communal water usage such as sprinklers on golf courses and cemeteries, and the replacement of community lawns with grasses which are more resistant to drought conditions. Private citizens are encouraged to improve water retention methods through a rebate scheme on new garden watering equipment, and new homes are subject to stricter regulations...

Published: May 01 , 2015
Author: Alan Smith

There appears to be a new technique being banded about by politicians in the UK, no doubt encouraged by their spin doctors in the long run up to this May’s General election. This technique or tactic is called throwing a dead cat on the table. Now no need to get squeamish, the cat is not literally dead, nor has it really been thrown anywhere least especially on the table. The technique refers to a metaphorical cat not a real one...

Published: Apr 17 , 2015
Author: Alan Smith

Questions, questions everywhere, and not an answer in sight. Asking good questions is productive, positive, creative, and can help get us what we want. Most people believe this to be true and yet often people do not ask enough questions. Perhaps one of the reasons for this is that effective questioning requires to be combined with effective listening...

Published: Apr 14 , 2015
Author: Alan Smith

A few weeks ago we asked readers to submit words (made up ones) and their definitions as part of a tongue in cheek exploration of a new vocabulary for the seasoned negotiator to describe behaviours, activities, tricks and techniques they have encountered whilst participating in the noble art of negotiation...

Published: Apr 10 , 2015
Author: Stephen White

Somewhat quietly last Thursday, several days after the expiry of an arbitrary deadline which had been set for the finalisation of a agreement on the future of Iran’s nuclear capability, a deal was announced. There was rejoicing on the streets of Teheran, ominous rumblings of discontent in Jerusalem and Riyadh, a touch of triumphalism in Washington, and near silence in London, Paris and Berlin...

Published: Mar 27 , 2015
Author: Alan Smith

This morning (Tuesday 24th March) the news is awash with the revelation that the British Prime Minister says that he will not serve a third term as the leader of the Conservative party, and therefore leader of the country, should they be re-elected, again and again. Now bearing in mind he has not won the next election it seems remarkably confident, or arrogant to think he could possibly win the one after...

Published: Mar 20 , 2015
Author: Alan Smith

What price is cost control? There is a natural tendency for us all to be looking to drive down the cost of what we buy. We all do it. Even those of us who sell stuff, services or products for a living will need to buy, and the same is true for those who buy; they often have to sell, even if it just themselves to the man. But the problem of focusing exclusively on cost as an issue was brought home to me again when I glanced at the ingredients on my recently consumed, Bakewell Tart...

Published: Mar 05 , 2015
Author: Alan Smith

It has been said that Inuit have more than 17 different words for snow. Why should this be? Anthropologists hold the view that the language we speak both affects and reflects our view of the world... Using this thinking language is thought to impose a particular view of the world — not just for Inuit languages, but for all groups...

Published: Feb 27 , 2015
Author: Yannis Dimarakis

Depending on his or her political persuasion, an observer may feel in a number of ways regarding the outcome of the negotiations between the recently elected Greek government and its European partners. So was the agreement a huge success, or was it a full capitulation of the Greek government? I believe that most of us would agree that it was neither...

Published: Feb 20 , 2015
Author: Yannis Dimarakis

As these lines are written, the negotiations between the Greek government and its Eurogroup partners are still under way. As the end result is not yet known (and probably will not be for some days) some mistakes of the Greek handling of the situation are already discernible. Here are three obvious mistakes I have selected to discuss in this article...

Published: Feb 13 , 2015
Author: Stephen White

A recent TV documentary (The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds) gave a fascinating insight into the way grown-ups work. The film makers fitted out a kindergarten classroom with hidden cameras, and then put a group of 4 year olds into the classroom to interact with each other, under the supervision of two expert teachers, and secretly watched by a group of child psychologists. Having identified some of the personality traits of the children, they were split into two groups and invited to build a pretend house out of cardboard boxes and then decorate it. The groups were pre-selected; one had the more dominant children in it, and one had the less dominant. They were told that the team which built the better house would be declared winners..

Published: Feb 06 , 2015
Author: Alan Smith

Get mad back? Not so sure. Couple of things have passed my desk this week that have prompted this blog. The first is something that happened to me on one of our Advancing Negotiation Skills courses. One of the participants was asking about how to deal with difficult people. I suspect we have all come across them in our lives be it work or personal. As usual to give myself time to ponder and consider a response, a kind of adjournment, I asked the rest of the group if they had any ideas...

Published: Jan 23 , 2015
Author: Robin Copland

Jim Murphy, the new leader of the Labour party in Scotland, was interviewed on the radio recently and the issue of unilateral nuclear disarmament was raised... He was asked if the Labour party would unilaterally disarm and his answer was, “no”. The interviewer pressed him on his answer. Murphy responded rather as a negotiator might respond...

Published: Jan 16 , 2015
Author: Alan Smith

There is one group for whom cheaper oil is bad news — oil producers, who've been having an amazing run between a combination of higher prices and surging production. For the rest of us it may be pretty good news. For the negotiator there is certainly the potential of a discussion dependent on the relationship between the price of oil and that of your end products, and how you approach it will depend on which side of the fence you sit.

Published: Jan 09 , 2015
Author: Alan Smith

I love Christmas, but I hate paying for it. Sadly as a father of 5, Christmas, whilst being a wonderful time is also a very expensive one. I am sure like everyone else I also get excited in the run up to the event and am seduced by those people in marketing (God bless them) to spend more than I want to on things no-one needs, to impress them and convince them that under this crusty exterior I am a nice bloke after all...

Published: Dec 12 , 2014
Author: Alan Smith

Who does the housework in your house? Seems this is a much bigger issue than you might think. Or maybe it is already a huge issue for you. I suspect it depends on who does it and whether you care. It certainly seems to cause significant conflict if the radio is to be believed.

Published: Nov 14 , 2014
Author: Robin Copland

There has been much weeping and gnashing of teeth lately amongst the chattering classes and politicians in the UK and, perhaps predictably as we move ever closer to what promises to be the strangest election in recent history, it concerns money and the European Union...

Published: Nov 13 , 2014
Author: Tyler Hall

Many people have tried to define negotiation, and many of them haven’t gone further than the dictionary definition. There's nothing wrong with dictionary definitions, after all, we learn so much about the meaning of the word through its usage in a sentence, but that's not what this article is about.

Published: Nov 07 , 2014
Author: Mike Freedman

Frequently people want to talk about their negotiating strategy. My immediate (if private) reaction to this is “oh dear!!” Negotiation is a means of dealing with conflict; it can be stressful. So, in preparation we tend to surround ourselves with all sorts of tools and defences that will make us feel more powerful or at least more comfortable. For example people like to play out their negotiation strategy before it happens. Their strategy involves a long storyboard, a sequence of exactly what they and the other side will say and do.

Published: Oct 31 , 2014
Author: Stephen White

There is a sweet story about a car mechanic who is fixing the engine of the car belonging to an eminent heart surgeon. The surgeon arrives in the repair shop whilst the job is still not quite completed. The mechanic calls the doctor over to have a look under the bonnet. “You and I do the same job, Doc. I opened the engine’s heart, took the valves out, I am repairing and replacing anything damaged and then I will put everything back together and when it is finished, it will work like new. Just like you do. So how come I earn £40,000 a year and you earn £400,000 a year?”...

Published: Oct 24 , 2014
Author: Alan Smith

There are three things that stick out for me from the new series of The Apprentice...But the biggest thing that sticks out, and maybe is a recurring theme, is what a nasty bunch of back stabbing, aggressive self aggrandizing bunch they all are. The implication being that to be good at business you also have to be an arse. Being nasty and overly selfish is not a good long term strategy in any business relationship. It might work once and you might get away with it, but rarely will it work consistently...

Published: Sep 19 , 2014
Author: Stephen White

Publishing this on the day the Scottish population votes on Independence, we are no different from any of the other pundits - unable to forecast the result. But we can forecast that whatever the result the Scottish people will lose their ability to function truly as a democracy. This is because whichever side has the majority the result will be extremely close – 51/49, or 52/48 or something similar. In practical terms therefore about half of the population will getting exactly what they don’t want...

Published: Sep 12 , 2014
Author: Alan Smith

On 18 September voters in Scotland will be asked the Yes/No question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?" The final push for votes comes as a YouGov poll run by the Sunday Times suggested that, of those who have made up their mind, 51% planned to back independence, while 49% intended to vote no. Looks like the vote is going to go to the wire...

Published: Sep 05 , 2014
Author: Alan Smith

I am a big fan of the Kindle. It is convenient, easy to read at night, can carry lots of product, etc., etc. But whilst I still also love books, the Kindle’s massive advantage is the price you pay and the ease by which you can get hold of pretty much any book in print at any time, provided you have internet access. Brilliant...

Published: Aug 29 , 2014
Author: Stephen White

Just as they say that everyone remembers what they were doing when they heard that JFK had been assassinated, the same applies to 9/11. In my case I was in a Dixons electrical shop; I watched the second plane fly into the building on a wall of about 50 TVs which were on display for sale, all showing the identical picture. I commented on the devastating nature of the spectacle to the sales assistant who was completing my purchase. ‘It’s just TV’ he said, not recognising that the event was real...

Published: Aug 22 , 2014
Author: Tom Feinson

As ever it feels like little or no time has elapsed between the end of one season and the beginning of another. The World Cup serves to heighten those feelings, but here we are on the eve of new season, that blissful period where our hopes, dreams and aspirations are as yet undashed. The glorious “Transfer Window” enables teams to offload a dodgy left back or temperamental winger (should that be whinger) and land a top quality striker ‘Who is going to give us 30 goals a season’...

Published: Jul 29 , 2014
Author: Mark Simpson

The media has discovered that Council-controlled Auckland Transport is using special shuttles to move staff around Auckland; apparently because it’s faster than the public transport they provide for the rest of us. When challenged, Auckland Transport shot themselves in the foot and provided us with a beautiful example of argument dilution...

Published: Jul 14 , 2014
Author: Alan Smith

Size matters. But so do lots of other things. It’s all in the detail, and we all know that. So, why are so many problems only discovered after the ink has long dried? The temptation as we approach the end game of a long and difficult negotiation is to heave a great sigh of relief and run to the pub to celebrate a job well done over a glass of our favourite tipple... The problem is that without the detail what exactly have we agreed to?

Published: Jul 07 , 2014
Author: Robin Copland

I honestly do not know how many cities have trams. I know that in the UK, there are a fair few and some of the networks are extensive. Manchester and Sheffield, to name but two, have lines going all over the place and I am aware that Sheffield’s network is so well-used that a major upgrade programme has just been announced. Edinburgh now proudly joins these and, of course, many other European cities in having its very own tram – I was going to use the word “network” there again, but that’s not strictly true; “line” might be a better word. I can tell you without a moment of research and with no possibility of disagreement from anyone, anywhere that Edinburgh’s tram line excels in one area above all others – and that is its cost per kilometre...

Published: Jun 30 , 2014
Author: Robin Copland

When companies get good at providing a service, it becomes convenient to put more and more business their way. They provide an efficient route to market; they give suppliers the chance to make one big delivery instead of four or five smaller ones; their marketing campaigns are slick and entice more customers through their – sometimes electronic – doors...

Published: Jun 20 , 2014
Author: Stephen White

Last week it looked like politics was overwhelming the FIFA World Cup. Accusations of financial scandal involving the selection of Qatar as the venue for the 2022 competition, and adverse comment about the potential re-election of 78 year-old Sepp Blatter as President of FIFA dwarfed the press content about the actual football. Until, that is, the football actually started, after which all the dissent and scandal seemed to fade away...

Published: Jun 17 , 2014
Author: Alan Smith

Researchers into fatalities caused by storms have made an interesting and rather odd finding...

Published: May 27 , 2014
Author: Alan Smith

Politicians who promise that the streets will be paved with gold and deliver nothing but cobbled cul-de-sacs, managers who claim that the future will be filled with bonuses and jam while delivering dry crust and the negotiator who offers a future filled with high volume orders and pulls them whilst pocketing the promotional bonus. Nothing offends the sensibility quite so much as the empty promise delivered with mind-boggling confidence. Not necessarily...

Published: May 16 , 2014
Author: Stephen White

On Wednesday Roger Boyes, the Diplomatic Editor of the London Times, wrote an op-ed piece critical of the West’s approach to the Iranian nuclear situation. In summary his view is that during the current negotiations Iranian President Rouhani may be making all the right noises about the lack of intent to build a nuclear bomb, but because he is a transient figure on the Iranian political scene, Boyes suggests that unless there is an agreement to international monitoring of the Revolutionary Guard, which is the stronger and more permanent force in Iranian politics and which controls the Iranian nuclear programme, then promises made so far will be worthless. As a result Iran will achieve a nuclear bomb and the world will be powerless to do anything about it in retrospect...

Published: May 15 , 2014
Author: Tyler Hall

If you’ve ever tried to negotiate something – a corporate merger, a commercial conflict, a new salary or even a family dispute – you’ll know there’s an art to resolution and an art to influencing an outcome that satisfies both sides. The truth is, no one’s born a brilliant negotiator. Right? We all learn to negotiate as we grow and we all engage in negotiation training and education to try and make ourselves better mediators and better “solution influencers.” In one of our recent training sessions, one of the participants asked a great question –Who are the best negotiators in the business? Who should we listen to and learn from?

Published: May 09 , 2014
Author: Alan Smith

In spite of its largely unknown cast, a promiscuous leading female character, a tragic death and a miniscule budget, Four Weddings and a Funeral is still one of the most successful British films ever made. It is now 20 years since it opened in Britain - making household names of its stars, and taking an estimated $250 million worldwide. Not bad for a budget of less than £3 million...

Published: May 02 , 2014
Author: Stephen White

During the Pistorius trial I happened to spend some time with a friend who is a judge. I asked him if over his 30 years of experience he had developed a sense of who was telling the truth, particularly important when the outcome of a court case between a plaintiff and a defendant at war depended on which version of events the judge believed because there were no witnesses. Yes, he said, you do get a feel for it; it’s not infallible but you usually know who is telling the truth...

Published: Apr 18 , 2014
Author: Alan Smith

I want you to imagine that you have been preparing for a negotiation and you have got to the point where you have to declare your financial proposal to paper. The bit that is going to be critical, maybe even the most important (maybe), is the price. We could drift tangentially off point here and talk about things that may be much more important than price, like availability, quality, terms, etc., etc., we won’t. But you should...

Published: Apr 04 , 2014
Author: Romana Henry

As a French speaker, I was recently dispatched to the French island of La Reunion, located in the middle of the Indian Ocean close to Mauritius and Madagascar to run a course. What a place! A tropical paradise with wonderful people, beaches, sea, food, scenery, the list goes on and on. My colleague Julien, originally from Paris but living there for the last 10 years, told me a lovely story...

Published: Mar 28 , 2014
Author: Stephen White

News pictures of distraught relatives of the passengers on flight MH370, missing now for more than 2 weeks, bring home an uncomfortable truth. Even in the light of technological detective work which broke new ground and determined beyond reasonable doubt that the plane had ditched in a remote part of the South Indian Ocean, many of the bereaved are unconvinced, and say they will remain sceptical until physical evidence of the plane in the sea is produced...

Published: Mar 21 , 2014
Author: Alan Smith

Alice Walker, author of “The Color Purple" and civil rights activist said “The most common way that people give up their power, is by thinking they don’t have any”. The reality of the power of what we think was driven home to me recently by the TED talk given by Psychologist Kelly McGonigal, who presented a kind of positive case for stress...

Published: Mar 13 , 2014
Author: David Bannister

This holiday, one of the books I read was ‘A Street Cat named Bob’. It’s an uplifting and sometimes challenging book about a recovering drug addict – James Bowen, the author, and his cat, Bob whom he finds in the lobby of his building and whom he helps to recover from neglect and befriends. Having Bob gives James a reason for overcoming his heroin habit and he manages to get a job selling the ‘Big Issue’ in London...

Published: Mar 06 , 2014
Author: Stephen White

As the current situation in Ukraine is changing so swiftly that no one has any serious ability to predict the outcome, conflict-resolution pundits should be reading the unfolding events in negotiating terms in order to make sense of what is going on, for themselves and for those who follow them...

Published: Feb 27 , 2014
Author: Stephen White

Just how good are we at persuasion? How gullible are you as a negotiator? Not very, you will probably tell me. You do your prep, you check the facts, you are streetwise, and you can normally see a scam or a piece of B/S coming and react accordingly. Our propensity to believe the unbelievable is enhanced by a world which is increasingly intrinsically unbelievable...

Published: Feb 20 , 2014
Author: Alan Smith

Valentine’s Day gone. Red Roses wilting depressingly in the vase perched on the window sill. Champagne cork stuck behind the book on the top shelf where it landed and will remain, probably till we move house. Promises made in the heat of the night, vaguely remembered...

Published: Feb 13 , 2014
Author: Alan Smith

Switzerland's economy is booming at the moment, and unemployment is low, but many Swiss worry about what they see as a looming problem, namely, immigration. Last year 80,000 new immigrants arrived in Switzerland with a relatively small overall population of around 5 million, and foreigners now make up 23% of the inhabitants. It is the continent's second highest foreign population after Luxembourg, for whom 42% are immigrants...

Published: Feb 06 , 2014
Author: Stephen White

The Winter Olympic Games open in Sochi this Friday, but any expectation that there would by now be a rising tide of enthusiasm for the splendour of the opening ceremony or the thrill of the sports on show has been dashed. Instead we only read about the likelihood of a Chechen terrorist attack, the possible effect on athletes and spectators of recently enacted anti-gay Russian legislation and the appalling prospect that some Western journalists might find their hotel bedrooms are unfinished. Of these, the terrorist threat occupies most press attention...

Published: Jan 30 , 2014
Author: Robin Copland

For a man who trained as a physician at the university of Damascus and who spent two years in post graduate training in ophthalmology at the Western Eye Hospital, part of the St Mary’s group of teaching hospitals in London; a man, furthermore, who had few, if any, political aspirations until his brother’s death in 1994, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria is taking a pretty myopic view of retaining political power! For the past two years he and the Syrian political establishment have been engaged in a ruthless battle for power with the loosely-defined but western-supported opposition rebel forces.

Published: Jan 16 , 2014
Author: Stephen White

There are interminable lists of top negotiating dos and don’ts available on the internet, in books, and on training courses. They mainly contain pieces of sensible, if obvious advice about how negotiators should conduct themselves. You may have read some of these lists, and you may even have been moved to try some of the tips. You certainly don’t need to see another one...

Published: Dec 09 , 2013
Author: David Bannister

“Please take your seats promptly after the coffee break” said the organiser at KPMG’s International Partners’ Conference in Cape Town in 1999. “We have a special guest”. Twenty minutes later the 150 or so of us at the conference watched Nelson Mandela, then approaching his eightieth birthday, walk slowly down the catwalk past us all and to the lectern in the centre. He carefully and deliberately read a prepared speech telling us how important it was for the city to be able to welcome such a distinguished group of international business leaders. It was a predictable address and I felt a little disappointed. “And finally…” he said as he folded up the paper from which he had been reading for ten minutes...

Published: Dec 05 , 2013
Author: Alan Smith

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has promised to compensate those left "out of pocket" after customers were unable to pay for purchases. RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank customers making online and card payments were affected between 18:30 and 21:30 GMT this Monday. Bearing in mind that Monday was supposed to be the biggest on-line shopping day of the year (credit cards screaming with pre-Christmas purchases), this was indeed a big stuff up...

Published: Nov 22 , 2013
Author: Stephen White

Activism is a form of persuasion. Using diverse methods such as civil disobedience, resistance, demonstrations, and publicity seeking events activists seek to promote change in the political, social, economic or environmental status quo. Examples such as the French Revolution, the Suffragette movement and the American Civil Rights campaign testify to the power and antiquity of activism.

Published: Oct 17 , 2013
Author: Stephen White

The Oxford English Dictionary defines charm as ‘the power or quality of delighting, attracting, or fascinating others’. It is a word which has been much used recently about the newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in particular in connection with the speech he made to the United Nations General Assembly on September 24th. It is difficult to know how much the world’s perception of his charm is actually a reflection on the lack of this same quality in his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad...

Published: Aug 01 , 2013
Author: Stephen White

Do the Middle East negotiators have the skills to succeed? As talks begin in Washington between Israeli and Palestinian representatives - talks which both sides have described as negotiations - it is worthwhile considering their chances of success over the next nine months which is the time-frame they have given themselves. Past experience gives us little hope. The Oslo Accords and the Camp David Summit were both trumpeted as great opportunities, and both ultimately failed. There has been little talk between the parties since, at least in public. Is this because the Middle East problem is inherently insoluble, or because the capabilities of the parties are inadequate?

Published: Jul 25 , 2013
Author: David Bannister

I am wondering if there is a particular personality type who might make a more natural negotiator than other types do. I have to tell you that if you are compelled to read further, please do, but I am not going to give the answer to the question, because I don't know it. I intend to try to find out, though.

Published: Jul 18 , 2013
Author: Alan Smith

Earlier this month a Chinese sky lantern lit up the Jayplus recycling unit in Smethwick, near burning Birmingham. The resulting inferno was visible from 80 miles away and damages were reported to cost £6 million. As well as this, there was a significant risk shouldered by the heroic fire service managing the disaster. While it is true that we may not always be able to anticipate the end results of our actions, this does not mean that we should not even try.

Published: Jul 04 , 2013
Author: Alan Smith

George North is a big man. Currently on tour in Australia with the British and Irish Lions, North stands at 6 feet 4 inches and weighs in at 240 lbs. That is over 17 stones in old money, as my mother would say...

Published: Jun 06 , 2013
Author: Yannis Dimarakis

After being the centre of attention for several months late last year, Greece has been mostly out of the international news. Indeed, some commentators have suggested that the economy might be showing signs of turning the corner; not exactly light at the end of the tunnel, but at least the tunnel has now come into view...

Published: May 23 , 2013
Author: Alan Smith

There is no doubt that people are strange. You and especially me! Sometimes, it seems we act contrary to our best interests in order to be consistent to others or ourselves. Knowing this maybe will help us put distance between what we have done in the past and how it influences our activity in the future.

Published: Mar 14 , 2013
Author: John Leehman

I recently stayed at a national hotel chain that I use regularly. On the third night of my stay, I requested a 5:30 a.m. wake-up call from the front desk to allow time for a morning workout before checking out and teaching my final negotiating skills course. Unfortunately, the front desk never called the next morning and I awoke at 7:10 am. In the next 20 minutes, I showered, packed, checked out and rushed to my 7:30 meeting. Obviously, I was poorly prepared and not pleased!

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Give It a Bash

I was once again reminded that we sometimes work ourselves up into thinking conversations will ‘go worse’ or ‘be harder’ than they will. We spend hours thinking about what we might say in these difficult conversations and weeks postponing them. However, in my experience at least, they are typically not nearly as difficult as anticipated…in fact, they may turn out to be a complete non-event.

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