January 16, 2014

Convincing & Negotiating Tips with US Counterparts

In corporate coaching sessions, Indian executives are always intrigued to know how to negotiate with Americans on a range of topics from deadlines to contract changes.  

If Americans love to save two things, those are time and money. To negotiate and to convince an American is to appeal to their love of saving time, saving money or both!  
This is not always an easy proposition. While one knows their work well and how to discuss particulars of their work related tasks, many may fail to truly understand how to measure their output through time or financial calculations. This is a skill, and it takes time to master. It is also a way to show initiative to your US counterparts.  

After reviewing this in the sessions, many Indian executives ask, "Well this is your American culture, that means to you this comes easy. This is not our Indian culture, so we have to practice. It's not easy." 

My answer to this typically is, "That while Americans may grow up hearing this more than Indians might, it is still a learned skill for Americans to master. A lot goes into understanding these calculations, and they do not always easily roll off of one's tongue without many years experience to back them up. What this means is that, yes, even Americans must prepare and practice these skills to perfect them. It depends on the topic of discussion, and the figures always change. So, one must prepare for such meetings well in advance, studying and comparing figures to find the most convincing approach to use." 

Not only does it take a skill in understanding how and where to use these figures, but it takes a skill in small talk and getting to know one's client or customer. The better we know someone (personally or professionally), the easier it is to find the right approach to convince them. Small talk goes along way.  

Interestingly enough, some Indian executives may also consider the tips in this article a form of small talk because it's not directly talking about the task at hand. Rather than talking about getting it done, and sticking to the nuts and bolts of the topic, convincing and negotiating by using figures may not be considered to be directly talking about the matter at hand. Unlike "normal" small talk which has nothing to do with work, this kind of small talk does have to do with work, and it takes time to prepare for.  

Dr. John Sullivan in the article, Talking Strategically: The 7 Things You Must Master to Succeed, shares this and six other tips in how to convince and negotiate effectively: 

  • Dollars to show impact 
  • Corporate goals focused 
  • Knowing with data 
  • Building a competitive advantage 
  • Being forward-looking 
  • Being customer focused 
  • Emphasizing innovation 
(Tips reprinted from the article.) 




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