You are negotiating all day, every day

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?

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:

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

“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

Reserve your  Sparring Spot here.

Little electronic helpers to pursuing long-term negotiation goals

21. May 2018

How “Apps” like Nach, ToDoIst or Lifetick can help you reaching your negotiation goals!

Setting and reaching goals is paramount to negotiation success. I´ve been giving tips to setting goals (SMART-system) before and talked about efficiency vs. effectiveness here. After all, it is my objective to help clarify and structure goals as Negotiation Joker.

Setting goals is one thing, however, and pursuing them quite another, given daily distractions, time limits and over-boarding projects.

Apps and their reminders might help. Therefore I´ve been looking for and comparing different software/apps that might support your effort to reach your goals.

Software is here to support you

The way you want to use the software is quite essential and might differ considerably from person to person. I take into account my personal preferences, but also my clients´ criteria (time-sensitive people in stressful industries, as apposed to tech-geeks).

    I need to be inspired by the software, or in other words “get a kick out of using it”. Some of the software makes you want to use it. It gives you satisfaction to “tick off” yet another item or understand how much time you use of certain projects as compared to others.

    In order to work not only efficiently, but effectively, it is impertinent to be able to follow a top-down approach, i.e. define core values or top goals first and then drill down to To-do´s.

    I need to see top goals without all tasks attached. That helps identifying and seeing if I pursue the right goals. Combined with 6) that can really help allocating time on important rather than pressing objectives.

    After all the goal setting on special occasions, it is yet important to easily access tasks or a daily to-do list. After all, when you are in the middle of working through your schedule, you need a clear picture on what you should do.

    The software needs to be able to be very flexible on given schedules, since some tasks happen only certain weekdays, or every other day, or even any 2 days/week

    be able to track and compare time spend on different goals

    I want the software not only to support me in building habits or ticking off tasks, but to help me start dreaming and put down dreams in the app to remind me of the big picture. There is no point, doing everything right, if you are not doing the right things.

    be able to use it as Journal

The contenders

I have to admit that it took me nearly a month to even come to the finalists in this list. Lots of other programs, like, ToDoIst, GoalSpace, Milestone Planner didn´t make it there because they lacked some of the requirements right away or felt clumsy to deal with.

Asana was the program I had been using for business tasks so far, but I wasn´t satisfied using it for more general objectives in life or negotiations.

The four finalists were Nach, Goals on Track, Lifetick and Strides. They were very close, and I wasn´t sure until the very last days which one I would choose for myself.

Outcome: the winner is…

1 point = unsatisfactory
2 points = ok
3 points = the way I want it


1 – Nach:

I decided to go with Nach.

The program is really well structured and has the most helpful “To-Do-List” of all the programs I looked at. You can not only see your tasks for today and easily tick them of (careful, you might get addicted!), but also overdue tasks (helpful to catch up!) and, really helpful: Habits.

It is also possible to play around and set goals in a specific goal section. Not as rewarding as in Lifetick, but still helpful.

Nach goalsetting screenshot


Also, I really enjoy being able to see the history quickly (how often did I go to the gym this week), but also add comments to dates/tasks and lead a Journal.


Nach History screenshot


It also is is the summary of “little things” that convinced me. It is just a really thought-through experience with the best balance between functionality and analytical capability.

You can, e.g. add links to your tasks. So if you want to look at, say, specific data for an argument, or an exercise for work-out, just add the link and it will show up with the task reminder.

If you happen to work over midnight, there is a lovely reminder that you should refresh the page and it will give you the new To-do list.

Really useful are the trackers as well, since you can also compare where you are in relation to where you want to go (e.g. reading books/year) or contacting clients as compared to forecast.

All in all I am using Nach every single day and it really helps me not only to stay focused on what needs to be done, but also to analyze the big picture and see if I am working on the right things and how I progress.

2 – Lifetick:

I fell in love with Lifetick the first time I found out you can fill in “core values” and seeing what the program would make out of it. Liftick is a beauty not only flattering your eyes, but inspiring your whole brain to visualize core beliefs, dreams and goals. It would be the winner hands-down if you were to visualize your dreams and big goals.

Lifetick goals screenshot

However, it is not so easy to work with Lifetick on a day-to-day basis:

It is not easy to tick off tasks. While with Nach you do one click, you need to click on the task and then wait for it to open and click yet another time on the task and third time on “complete instance” and close it again to mark it as done. The whole experience with the To-Do list was inferior and just too cumbersome to use it regularly. This is the reason I couldn´t go for it, even though I loved the feel of the whole program.

Also (at the moment, but help was promised by the developers) it is impossible to mark a task to be due on certain weekdays only, or every other day. For me, this was a no-go.

The Journal and tracking functions are pretty good, once you get the hang of it.

Lifetick is also the only program that let´s you add clients and work with them on their goals. That alone could be a feature worthwile pursuing, I will keep that in the back of my mind also.

3 – Goals on Track

GoT has many things going for it. It has the top-down approach, a good journal function and all the rest of it.

But there is one big disadvantage: it is too complicated and simply not much fun is coming up. I have to admit that I might not have tried long enough. There is no free trial, but you will get your money back within 30 days (and that worked out fine with me), so you should try this one out.

Also, the founder Harry is sending lots of interesting information on goals setting in his newsletter, so it might be worth you while looking into that one as well.

4 – Strides:

Strides is the most practical of them all. As “To-Do-List” and tracker it has a lot going for it. I still couldn´t bring myself to erase the free App (limited to 10 tasks) all the aforementioned programs don´t boast a native app, even though Nach is working on it).

It is easy to handle, and what a great idea to to cluster trackers together with goals.

The main back draw is the lack of any hierarchy in goal-setting, so you can´t really use it to define your core goals and break them down. For habits and reminders on To-dos it would be perfect.


Of course, that was only my little test here, and I am happy to learn and recommend other programs, if they meet my criteria. What was your experience?

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