working towards great client service

Negotiation – Where to go and How to wear

We use negotiation skill every day, with many people. The main purpose is to convince them to be on our side and have mutual benefit (win-win situation). However, life is not always as we want, in some situation, we have to step back, sacrifice some of your objectives in order to keep the relationship and the final goals. This would be the time to show your skills.  It is believe that a great communicator is the one who know how to balance you objectives and win with the smallest harm. After interviewing with Miss Nguyen Thi Bich Loan, Relationship sale manager at DHL Express,  I have realized some tips (actually it can be called tricks) about what to talk and what to wear for a great communicator.


Picture 1: Proof of life

DHL Express is an international fast express that has long history in Vietnam. Time after time, nowadays, DHL Express can be seen as one of the biggest delivery companies in Vietnam, but they also have to face with newcomers in town.  After more than twenty years working in DHL Express, especially in sale field, Miss Loan has had much experience when dealing with clients. This interview does not focus on academic theory, it is much likely to be just a conversation, a sharing from an expert with a new comer. Questions are asked in order to keep the conversation flow smoothly about some small tips that are usually not taught in schools.

Preparation – The most important part

There is a famous idiom ‘He who sees through life and death will meet with most success’. We all know we should prepare and predict everything before the negotiation. According to Carrell and Hearvin (2006), there are something should be prepare, from our goals and objectives, what we will talk to win and what we can sacrifice to their objectives, which is our negotiation strategy, what the best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA)  and what they could say. Everything is absolutely right, but in real world, it is not enough. Miss Loan states that although Vietnam has been globalizing and everything starts to work professionally, business in Vietnam, somehow, is still based most on emotion and feeling. Therefore, she gives a trick that, before important negotiations, such as in order to sign new contracts, if we want to be more sure, try to find some of their personal information such their interests or hobbies, where they often hang out. She talks humorously that in Vietnam, important contracts are never signed in office, they are signed in restaurants and golf court.


Picture 2: Meeting in relaxing place can calm both of the sides’ minds (Adapted from Gestrich (n.d))

Miss Loan tells me one of her experience. Before coming to this negotiation, Loan and this client had had some conversations on phones and emails which led to some conflicts and need to talk directly to solve the problems. Thus, this is a big customers of DHL and if she had lost them, she would have been criticized seriously. She was very stressful at that time. Fortunately, her colleagues gives her some personal details about that clients that she has got from other friends. With that information, she knows that this client has big interests in acoustic music. Therefore, instead of talking with him in their offices, she invited him a cafeteria. The result is successful, they talked friendly to each other and the problem solved. Actually, she points out that the main reason for this success did not come from the personal information, but the place with the client’s favorite music somehow did calm both of them down to talk gentle with each other. According to Fisher and Ury (1999), in theory, this can be seen a common strategy when coming to a negotiation, integrative strategy. Both of the negotiator in this case share interests and want to maintain good long-term relationship.  It is not always right, but according to Raiffa (2003), in negotiation, if your partners are likely to be less defensive, the negotiation can be easier and contracts are faster to made. Actually, it is not a trick, it is just a way to show your preparation. Loan believes that by showing how deep you know about your partners, they will think that you respect them as well as this relationship more than other, and as a result, they will have more positive feelings to you more than others.

Your face – your company face

Obviously, when coming to any meetings, you must dress formally. It is the very first impression about professionalism. In university, in some course like Business Communication in RMIT Vietnam, students are asked to dress professionally when coming to class, but in real world, sometimes everything is bigger than that. In some cases, wearing formally is not enough, business men need to wear luxurious. Like in the title, your face is your company face. In Vietnam, wearing luxurious can mean that your company has great income and create credibility. According to Tiền Phong (2012), one of the first  Vietnamese billionaires who has Roll Royce, the reason she bought this luxurious car is for create a image for herself as well as her company. As a result, it is not surprising that although Vietnam is still a developing country, many people are willing to pay million dongs to buy clothes from luxury brand like Burberry or Dior. Miss Loan makes jokes that it is not unreasonable that recently, many frauds have succeeded in cheating many people with more than billion dong. Their common tips are wearing luxuriously, driving fancy car. Using these things, the people you talk to can have an implication about your wealth and credibility. However, it is not everything. According to Gates (2011), we are all judge a book by his cover but real power dressing starts from the inside out. It means that wearing luxurious brands would not give you anything if you do not feel confident.  Therefore, miss Loan gives an advice that taking care of your clothes is good before negotiation, but remember to be confident.


Picture 3: Clothes do make the man (Adapted from Lifehack Quotes (n.d))

In conclusion, I think that what we have learn at school is great, but not enough. In real world, depend on what  situation, we have to be flexible to fix with it. However, after the whole interview, there are two main part that communicators should be focus before coming to any negotiation: Prepare carefully and be confident.

Interviewed by Tran Quan Trac

Word count: 1081


Carrell, M & Hearvin, C (2006), Negotiating Essentials: Theory Skills and Practice, Prentice Hall, Virginia, the US.

Fisher, R & Ury, W 1999, Getting to yes: negotiating an agreement without giving in, 2nd edn, Random House, London, the UK.

Gates, L 2011, ‘Power Undressing Your Next Negotiation: What Not to Wear’, Forbes, 15 Ferbuary, viewed 3 September 2012, <>.

Gestrich, M (n.d), ‘Business people holding a meeting in a restaurant’, imaged, VisualPhotos, viewed 5 September 2013, <×7694327/business_people_holding_a_meeting_in_a_restaurant>.

Lifehackquotes (n.d), ‘Clothes make the man’, image, viewed 4 September 2013, <>.

Raiffa, H 2003, The Art and Science of Negotiation, 7th edn, President and Fellows of Havard College, the US.

Tiền Phong 2012, ‘Đại gia Diệu Hiền: ‘Tôi bán nhà mua Rolls Royce làm thương hiệu’, Tinmoi, 22 September, viewed 2 September 2013, <>.


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3 thoughts on “Negotiation – Where to go and How to wear

  1. Anonymous on said:

    Actually there are something more I want to add here, but the limit in word count prevent me, so sorry, it is great to talking about this topic in real life. May be someday I can start to write a full article in this subject, beside clothes and locations, AGES and GENDER do have lots of influences, too )

  2. -Image selection could have have been more related to the DHL company. Use maybe ‘delivery’ ‘transportation’ metaphors to increase interest. Current images do not have a consistent ‘look and feel’.

    -Interesting job title, but what exactly does she do? Make conenctions/ distinctions with the job description of a pr/ adv AE, client services manager.

    -“important contracts are never signed in office, they are signed in restaurants and golf court.” AND “but the place with the client’s favorite music somehow did calm both of them down to talk gentle with each other.” Interesting experiences from Ms. Loan.

    -Oh what a pity! The article was too short, I was starting to enjoy reading it. It lacks a strong conclusion (and personal point of view).

    -Perhaps an additional last sub-section with a focus on closing the negotiation deal is needed as you already covered prep (research personal interests, finding a a neutral ground for neg) and process (clothes, confidence).

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