Business is all about negotiation!

Business is all about Negotiation!

Business is all about Negotiation!

By Matthew Kwan

Principal Consultant of Adams (

Copyright © 2010.

Do you realize how much negotiation do you do everyday? You may negotiate with your customers for the most favourable prices, order quantity, delivery timeand condition. You may push your sub-ordinates and co-workers to deliver the jobs on time and with high quality that meet your expectation. You may try so hard to show your performance to your boss and managers in order to get a better pay rise or promotion in the next review cycle. All these show that doing business is all about negotiation!

Fundamentals of negotiation

The Chinese characters for business (“生意”) have a wonderful meaning of “flexibility of an intention”(i.e. 靈活生動的意向). Hence, you must view doing business as a negotiation process to reach an ultimate goal which leads to a mutually agreeable intention. I personally think that you will never reach the ultimate and sustainable results if you are not thinking win-win during any business processes! You may win once or twice but you will not get far if you are not gearing towards a mutual benefit in a business agreement. Believe it or not, giving way may actually result in gaining ground! This is exactly the platform of negotiation.

Strategy of negotiation

Understanding of the intention of the other party is the fundamental skill of negotiation. Without realizing the other party‘s underlying needs and intention is not going to help reaching any agreeable results. Another very important basis of negotiation is focusing on the big picture rather than on specific details. You may trade off something small in exchange for a bigger, more meaningful and longer term benefit. Therefore, at the end of the day, it is all about return on investment (ROI) calculation in the macro view.

Tactics of negotiation

You have to be courageous enough to explore the depth of the water. In the same sense, you have to be courageous enough to make your offer during a negotiation. Otherwise, you would never know exactly how far the other party is willing to give way. Don’t be shy to make your offer yet the offer must be “reasonable” enough to justify by itself. You could start high as it gives yourself enough room to back down. Don’t hit your baseline so early and easily. By doing this, you are likely to gain ground than hitting a dead end!

Best negotiators are those who have high Emotional Quotient (EQ) with calm and firm responses.Sometimes, sense of humor can be a very good tool to ease the tension during tough negotiation but never overdo it with sarcasm as it will create a disrespectful impression! This is definitely not easy when you are facing unfavorable situations without too much ground!Hence, before you enter into any negotiation no matter it is a customer meeting, a job interview, a performance review…etc, you should really get yourself well prepared with options of possibilities including competitive information and competitive offers from other parties in order to gain ground.However, as mentioned earlier, win-win should be the ultimate objective but we have to also accept the fact on the other hand that such status is not always possible!


In certain culture, negotiation is just part of life and people would expect to negotiate at all time.However, majority of us are not natural born negotiators.But with some very simple training, we can be a better negotiator in a relatively short time. One very practical thing to do is to remind ourselves in all circumstances that to ask if the offer made by the others, including your customers, suppliers, co-workers, managers…etc., the best they can do? You will be surprised that 80% of time you will get a discount, a better offer, a faster response or even a better career at the end without much negotiation! So, are you willing to ask?

Matthew Kwan is a Principal Consultant of Adams Company Limited ( and is responsible for business consulting and enterprise training. He is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, lecturer and consultant working with enterprises and organizations in the commercial and Christian communities. He served for many years in multi-national companies including Intel, JP Morgan and Jardine and has broad experience in sales & marketing and management in multicultural and international settings.

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