The Negotiator Magazine

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The Ideal Location for Negotiation: an Alternative View.

By Jonathan Sims

The question as to where a negotiation should ideally take place is an important one and gives rise to both well-thought advice and knee-jerk reactions. The most widely held view is that negotiators are at an advantage holding the proceedings on their own territory.

I would like to provide alternative food for thought.

Negotiation text books frequently draw analogies with sports events where, true enough, home teams tend to have an advantage over visiting teams, primarily because they know the arena and have thousands of supporters cheering them on. In negotiations we don't have those supporters, although we do know the territory. Unfortunately, our own territories can work against us.

I do recognize that the overriding advantage of home negotiations is that of saving time, energy and expense. Modern-day buyers, for example, often have to fit a dozen meetings into a day.

There is much to be said as well for holding the negotiation on neutral territory such as a hotel (no, a lawyer's office is not neutral territory!) especially if both sides need to cool things down or the choice of territories has become an ego issue. There again, however, matters such as who gets there first, who pays the room hire or who picks up the entertainment tab can become a bone of contention.

On balance, nonetheless, I believe that negotiating on one's opposite number's premises affords significant advantages

  The Negotiating Edge.

Negotiating on one's own territory can lead to complacency and a false sense of security which arise from the comfort factor. When we travel to the other's premises we are more alert, less comfortable.

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October 2005