The Negotiator Magazine

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Preparation.

We are less likely to prepare adequately for negotiations on our own territory. We may promise ourselves to get the file out at nine o'clock and be thoroughly prepared for the 9.30 meeting. But with all the day-to-day demands on our time, the reality is that their arrival in reception has been announced before we've even opened the filing cabinet! At least they've had a car ride to discuss the meeting.

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.

Interruptions.

We are more likely to be interrupted in our own businesses. Your counterpart can easily switch off the cell phone, but even when we request to be left alone, our very presence on the premises invites interruption by phone calls, secretaries and colleagues. Buyers at one of my clients report that their bosses feel free to wander into negotiations and sit uninvited in the corner, observing.

Conventions of the Host.

These include welcoming politenesses, the "WE WELCOME TODAY" signs, arranging coffee and Danish, showing off your town in the evening and so on. These conventions are not on the shoulders of the visitor.

Inhibitions.

It is much harder to walk out of your own office, should negotiations break down. Asking the other side to leave is pretty final.

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October 2005