Secret Art to Win: No Ego in Negotiation.
Interviewed by Linh Pham – S3427416 – Hanoi
Dealing with business partners means a non-stop process of negotiation (Solomon 2008). Negotiation is the ‘give-and-take’ process between at least two parties, each with its own goals, to reach a common ground to settle a mutual concern (Hoang 2014). Theoretically, it sounds great. Yet, in real life, sometimes, not both parties leave the negotiating table feeling happy. Some even destroy their connection because of such big egos.
So here I am, in my interview session with Ms. Yuki Duong, hoping to dig more into ‘ego in negotiation’ from her knowledge and experience gaining through all the years working as Senior Executive of International Cooperation Department – Ministry of Construction. And the ultimate advice she gave me was to “leave your ego at the door and keep your eyes on the big picture. It’s all about business.”
“Little word, huge influence”, said Yuki. “Healthy ego contributes to our confidence and drives us to progress. But if you let your ego run big, it becomes arrogance, then it invades your way to success, leads to bad decisions and your business will pay a price.”, she added.
Yuki told me one of her business partners won a construction bidding, however, with a costly decision. “He offered the investors that his company could complete their work with this low budget so that he could win the contract over other bidders,” said Yuki, “he became their constructor but the budget wasn’t enough to construct a quality work. So it caused his company a lot of troubles”. Yuki nodded when I guessed it must be his ego which brought him to that situation.
Some can’t stand the thought of ‘losing’ so their goal is rather to ‘win’ than to reach a compromise that satisfies both parties. But Yuki rather ‘lose a battle’ to ‘win the war’. “You aren’t making only one deal, you’re setting up a relationship”. She shared with me some tips to avoid damaging impacts of ego in negotiation.
Keep the negotiation results-oriented
According to Yuki, to end the business discussion in your favor, focus on the final result, not on outshining your ‘opponents’. “And don’t take things personally because in business you shouldn’t risk ruining a relationship just because your ego doesn’t let you lessen the offer to reach the mutual concurrence”. Also, Yuki said she has been in many negotiations with people starting with ‘I want this, or I want that’. “If you talk about what we can do to find a solution, it’s another approach. It doesn’t emphasize your ego, and it opens ways for much better deal”, she added.
Prepare so you won’t scare of egomania.
According to Yuki, in dealing with partner with huge ego, Preparation + Confidence + Flexibility = Success.
“Good attitude wins over egoistic and bossy behavior. Besides, business people like those knowing exactly what they want. Certainly, you don’t have to lay all your cards on the table, but showing concerns and creating a bond will help you achieve an advantageous deal”, Yuki admitted. Yet, confidence must be based on preparation. It helps you understanding the value of your solution and getting you ready for clients’ questions. Once they’re happy with your answers, they’re comfortable trusting that you can bring them solid return on investment (Hoang 2014).
Yuki also addressed that her job is to deal with international clients so in order to be confident, she must ‘do her homework’ and studies their cultures. “I’ve done lots of business with Japanese. They value patience and politeness. Respect their ‘saving face’ concept so you won’t ‘lose face’, either”.
Big ego impacts negatively on negotiation process (Brusman n.d.). I agree with Yuki about the rule of thumb on ego – Tuck it in your pocket when coming to negotiating table. And if you have to sit on the opposite side of the table dealing with an egomaniac, ‘laugh it off’. Smooth sea won’t create skillful sailors. If you can’t ‘bring home the bacon’ today, there is tomorrow because negotiating is a continuous process. And even if the deal can’t be closed, leave the table as friends. You shouldn’t burn your bridges (Gary 2012).
Brusman, M n.d, ‘The cost of ego’, Newsletter, vol. 5, no. 10, pp. 1-3.
Dung, H 2014, ‘Negotiation principle’, course notes for COMM 2384 Client Management, RMIT University, Hanoi, viewed 3 April 2014, Blackboard@RMIT.
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Gary, W. 2012, Work Prep, video recording, 15 December, viewed 3 April 2014,<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wez6wbwidA&list=PLffF0z7scp3wothQixoO0p0tCnz_nJsad>
Solomon, R 2008, ‘The art of client service’, Kaplan Publishing, New York