Home office or not: You are negotiating all day, every day, whether you know it or not

1. April 2020
Man and woman negotiating

Covid 19 & Home office: Whether you are aware of it or not, you negotiate all day

The longer Covid-19 forces us to work from home, the more obvious it might become that online & offline, in the house and outside, you better be prepared to negotiate well if you don´t want to risk a sudden explosion. You can put of negotiations only so long before people they explode right in your face.

People are often amazed when they learn how often they are negotiating without realizing it (see biggest mistakes in negotiations). This in itself doesn´t constitute any disadvantage, after all, people do all sorts of things without being fully aware what they are doing is actually called.

However, not recognizing when you are negotiating is a big disadvantage for two reasons:

  1. You are making your life more difficult than it needs be:
    If you don´t understand what game you are playing (the negotiation game!) you won´t be able to use it´s rules to your advantage and are often left out feeling dumbfounded by unexpected turns. When the whole family might be bound to stay together for an increased time you should face and negotiate conflicting needs to avoid catastrophe.

  2. You are not balancing interests and thus risk relationships breaking down:
    Understanding and using negotiation strategies & tactics makes achieving your aim, but also the aims of people around you, so much easier. You not only can convince people, but might want to do so investing much less energy and taking into consideration their options. That might start with “simple” (yet not easy) communication skills like listening skills

So, when are you negotiating?

“A negotiation is an interaction in order to influence the behaviour of at least one other person, whereby different interests are reconciled and brought about in the developing process. This definition shows that the term can be widely applied. In other words: We often negotiate without conscious realisation. The side discussion in the company kitchen to arrange who buys coffee when is a negotiation, just like the phone conversation with your partner to decide on the evening’s entertainment.

Definition taken from Master Negotiator, page 20

This is much less complicated that is looks like:

Whenever diverging interests need to arrive at a common conclusion, whether it be sales prices, a holiday venue or a company takeover, people have to be influenced in order to push interests through. To clarify, this does not mean to the detriment of the other side nor suggest unconscious influence.”

Negotiating without realizing it

Anything you might want somebody else to do which you can´t force them to, will become a negotiation, if they won´t anyway do it. The key is the phrase “diverging interests”.

  • Want your Mum to cook lunch later than she has planned?
    You´re in a NEGOTIATION
  • Want your kid to stop watching TV without screaming?
    You´re in a NEGOTIATION
  • Want your spouse to bring down the trash more often? NEGOTIATION
    You´re in a NEGOTIATION
  • Want to get the fresh bunch of parsley from the market stand, not the old one?
    You´re in a NEGOTIATION

I could continue the list… basically every time the other side has a free will to not grant your wish, you will have to somehow interact with them to get your way. If you can´t order, force or otherwise just make them do like you wish (luckily that´s not readily possible), you will likely need to start a negotiation.

This means, all the rules of negotiation come into play, like preparation, strategic planning, communication skills etc. Knowing and applying them might save you a lot of energy and bring about your goals when working and living with other people.

If you want me to quickly help you use lead better negotiations, no matter the topic, let´s have a call

Want to read more on negotiation, conflict resolution and moderation?

Do you want me to (online) moderate your meeting or discussion?

How one can learn negotiating?

Setting up (online) meetings right

26. March 2020

The biggest pitfalls in (online) meetings

YOUR FIRST STEP: Choose the basic Setup for your meeting

When you are setting up a meeting, you do have to take a basic, but very important choice right in the beginning: Will the meeting be

1) “all equals“, meaning that all participants are on the same level and can contribute to process & content, or will the meeting be

2) moderated, i.e. will you or somebody else be the Meeting Master conducting it and be responsible for the process.

This setup has a huge influence on the entire meeting, its pitfalls and its outcome.

All Participants have the same status - A good meeting choice?

Unmoderated Meeting

There are enticing advantages of setting up a meeting of equals

  1. Equality feels right.
  2. Any member can change the path any time. If participants are knowledgeable and experienced in using moderation tools, they can suggest appropriate tools, like One-Point-System, query by acclamation, mind mapping or topic memory.
  3. It is easy – no need to prepare the process and can be set up in no time.

There are also several pitfalls of setting up a meeting of equals

  1. Participants tend to talk over each other so ideas get lost
  2. People are interrupting each other
  3. Speaking times might differ widely because “John” really likes himself talking which leads to just a few using up all the speaking time
  4. “Sally” abstains from sharing her good ideas
  5. Ideas are repeated several times 
  6. Meeting Rules are continuously broken
  7. Nobody bothers summarizing interim or final results, so that plenty of meetings end with no clear outcome

Moderated Meeting

Your team enjoys quite a few advantages by having your meeting actively moderated

  1. Have one person (the “moderator”) responsible for bringing the process forward, not only his own arguments
  2. Improve the group dynamics by having a dedicated “rule enforcer”
  3. Have the moderator structure the talking session with clear instructions given
  4. Have somebody actively inviting “feeble” or “disinterested” participants and their ideas out
  5.  Have a dedicated person to summarize, structure, break and bring the process forward

Happy New Year!

29. December 2019

Was 2019 a good year for you, negotiation friends?

As free thinker I am not fond of X-mas, however NYE, New Years Eve, has always been a central celebration for me every single year.

Cleaning up and throwing out, reflecting on the past and planning the new, what a healthy ritual.

Most of all I enjoy the ritualistic burning of my 7 year old book keeping material (Austrian law mandates to keep files for that period), apart from the papers I can still recycle.

Isn´t this the best fire, consuming the past you want to let go to make space for the new? Naturally, my kids rave with me 🙂

A workshop that has become a kind of ritual also is Review – Outlook – Vision on January 11th. In the exclusive group (all known participants and dear clients) we talk about our plans and set targets for the coming year.


A unique format: Review 1/year

I wish you a wonderful New Year, and that it will bring you closer to your dreams,

Dr. Amin Talab

P.S. Here some tips to help you setting better goals

Chess, Strategy & Silence

3. December 2019

Kineke Mulder conducted this interview for Chess unlimited*

What brings the “Master Negotiator” to playing chess?

As Keynote Speaker and Consultant my main tool is the spoken language. For a change, I enjoy interaction without having to talk. Ideally, this is considered polite when playing chess.

Strategic dialogue without spoken words is exciting and leads to be in the very moment. I can focus on the position on the board and be with my myself and my thoughts, contrary to my professional responsibilty, where I always do have to have the interests of my participants and the development of the group process at the top of my mind.

Are there other reasons for favoring chess as much as you do?

The chess game offers lots of advantages for travelling professions: I can take it with me to seminar or congress venues anywhere in the world easily. It also is easy to find chess partners, as you don´t need to find somebody with a particular mindset or even talk the same language.

Playing chess also is a time for me absent of the responsibility for other peoples´ success. In contrast to being asked for my expert opinion in my Negotiation Jokers and trainings, it doesn´t matter who is the expert and who is student. Playing chess sometimes you learn, sometimes your opponent, or, in the best case, both from each other.

Amin from Wien in front of his books

To your last tournament in Vienna you brought your children with you?

Yes. My twin daughters got interested in chess from age 6, to my delight! It activates the brain and fosters skills like anticipating enemy moves and thinking strategically. My girls are in general pretty curious, ask lots of questions, also philosophical and cultural ones.

You just started an intercultural project together?

In my opinion, animating young minds to think critically and independently is of utmost importance. This is particularly true, when you take the current societal and political development of pitting groups against each other, migration and the search for meaning for so many people into account. These are all topics that have a lot to do with negotiation in a more extensive sense, of being and dealing with each other, of balancing interests to reach your goals.

With this in mind we started a special project on intercultural tolerance: Together with other families and their kids we will create the book The Little FreeThinker, with images and texts coming from “little, free, open minds”. We are in the Crowdfunding phase right now and hope to find enough support to print a colorful example for crosscultural team work, and maybe even fund a website on the topic.

Find more on the project here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/amintalab/little-freethinker

Our intercultural Book Project Video (5 minutes)

Thank you for the invitation and our conversation!

My pleasure. Good luck for you also as freelancer negotiation and selling your services, as well as with Chess Unlimited. You create a lot of pleasure by organizing very intercultural chess meetings in Vienna.

*The original was posted on https://chess.mulder.at/amin-aus-wien-a/

“THE MASTER NEGOTIATOR” Book review of Mr. Arno Baltin from Estonia

26. July 2019
Preivew Meisterlibräjka

Each now and then people reach out to tell me that one of my books has been reviewed in their country. I really appreciate it, since it is not easy for my small team to keep up with developments in all the different places.

This time Arno Baltin from Estonia let me know about his book review in the Estonian journal “director”. Thank you and I don´t understand a word, but it looks nice:

Preivew Meisterlibräjka
Review Meisterläbirääkija

Please find more reviews (in English & German) here

The book itself can be found here

How To Best Hone Your Negotiation Skills?

26. September 2018

What Are Important Points When Honing Your Negotiating Skills?

So you have decided you could profit a lot by focusing on your negotiation skills. And you are right! Whether in relationships with clients, your spouse or your boss: you can lose a lot by doing it wrong.

But how should you do it? Getting a book and read through it certainly is a good start, but what about applying? Should you hire a Coach as Negotation Joker to give you feedback and support? Or join a small and short group seminar, like the one-day Sparring or even shorter online format like AMA? Or would we recommend to continue in-house training courses like the Master Negotiator Curriculum or the Sparring Club?

The success of negotiation training, including communication, body language, conviction, negotiation or rhetoric is particularly sensitive to the way it is being taught, since the priority is not accessing and keeping knowledge, as with IT, process or compliance courses. The priority is not only knowing, but doing, i.e changing behavior and reactions in specific situations.

20+ years of experience have taught us that learning and reproducing behavior is depending mainly on the following factors:

    Basically, you need to do it yourself to learn it. Especially if the most effective way (to stress a word, or sit, or keep eye-contact, build an argument etc) seems awkward at first, you need to repeat it, so it becomes and feels natural to.
    I know, it´s not “sexy”, but repeating your new learned skill is essential to making it second nature.
    Go and practice situations you have had, might have or would likely face in your life. There is no point practicing “hostage negotiations” if you want clients to become long-term fans of yours.
    Make sure you do get sufficient feedback from a plethora of people, and a professional who is not afraid to “put his finger in the wound”. It might be great to be told you should stay like your are, but this won´t help you improve.

Actually, one can easily discern parallels with physical (muscle) training.

The Secret Behind Effective Negotiation Training

The effect and sustainability of negotiation training, and in fact of any kind of behavioral training, is mainly determined by the layout of the learning journey and its repetition and follow-upTragically, this is often neglected when embarking on the learning journey.

Short but regularly

We´ve experienced that it is more effective to train shorter and more frequently, at least after an initial kick-off seminar (which should last no longer than 3 days). It also helps to use different methods (books, audio, cases, presentations, stories, video etc.), spreading them over a longer period of time.

This is the reason why we prefer working with a model called “blended learning“. This means that our seminars are structured in a way that preparation material can be watched and studied already before meeting the first time. Clarifying objectives and interests with the trainer before the seminar starts does not only save costly time at the meeting venue. Also, the learning effect is higher since more focus and time can be put into evaluating what works and what doesn´t. Formats like the AMA – Ask Me Anything should be employed heavily to achieve this effect. The advantage of repetition is that the neuronal paths can be extended and strengthened.

Small group size

limited participant number allows to train relevant individual cases and to optimize them. It also guarantees there is time to allow for several repetitions of behavioral sequences that want to be learned. Ideally, these can be trained with differently participants and changing focus. Not only does this allow activity and looking into different negotiation types, but also increases the motivation to succeed in the face of obstacles.

Clear call for preparation

Unfortunately, this part is often neglected. Of course, the actual preparation you should be asked for depends on the specific training objective.

Let us turn to a practical example of our portfolio, the preparation we are recommending for our Negotiation Sparring:

Individual preparation time for 60-90 minutes not only secures familiarity with the topic and procedure. Also, the own negotiation case can be structured and thought through.

  1. Clarifying and creating awareness for the training – using a short explanatory video (2:13)
  2. Looking through preparatory papers explaining the process step by step .
  3. Recommendations to flick through our Newsletter Negotiation Insider and getting a feel for negotiation theory.

Regular invitations to rehearse and strengthen

Even the best training will be forgotten, if not regularly brought back, remembered and done.

For that reason, it should be safeguarded even before starting the training, that there are plenty of ways to continue and repeat thereafter. That can be done by a variety of measures, e.g. the Negotiation Joker or AMA Sessions. On top of that, there should be case based training, which should be repeated regularly, at least once a year.

How do I start to learn negotiating?

If you would enjoy improving your negotiation skills and you are tired of leaving money on the table but would like to improve your negotiation relationships, check out our negotiation books and Negotiation Sparring. We are happy to admit curious, new Sparrers to our Club.

What Our Participants Say

  • Simeon Hagmüller, Bac. Simeon Hagmüller, Bac. GVS Bullion Group

    The Sparring with Amin was very instructive and the time just flew by. The atmosphere was enjoyable and relaxed and we could focus in on the practice. I learned a lot, not only, but also from the failings of the other participants. Amin showed us different walkthroughs, which we also trained. Refreshingly, he always stayed realistic and also pointed out limits of negotiations - I really like that. All in all I recommend Sparring to everyone, who is willing to work on himself. I only wish we would have had more time together.

    Read more
  • Mag. Bernd Allmer Mag. Bernd Allmer Helvetia Versicherungen AG
    Das war ein wirklich außergewöhnliches Training und hat viel gebracht und auch noch Spaß gemacht. Auch die kleine Gruppengröße ist ideal fürs Sparring.

    Learn more
  • Dr. Eike Lindinger Dr. Eike Lindinger Rechtsanwalt
    Das Verhandlungssparring ist aufgrund der beschränkten Teilnehmerzahl und der unterschiedlichsten mit rhetorischem Leben auszufüllenden Sachverhalte eine sehr gute Gelegenheit, in sein wichtigstes Werkzeug – die Sprache und damit Kommunikation – zu investieren. [...] Das situative Zerhacken eines Gespräches sowie laufend neue Ansätze mit anderer Wortwahl wird von Ihnen hervorragend vorgezeigt, ebenso, wie durch geschickte Wortwahl bzw. das Weglassen von „Ballast“ von einer Defensivposition ausgehend, ein offensiver Schlagabtausch gelingt - und natürlich auch umgekehrt, sodass die Stunden wie im Flug vergangen sind. Gerade die direkte Ansprache/Analyse im Sinne der Schwächen / der Stärken in so kurzer Zeit ist unheimlich wertvoll.

    Learn more

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