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A Life of Negotiation. In the Deep Forest of Negotiation

A Life of Negotiation

Chapter 14: In the Deep Forest of Negotiation

Strength and mind

For young people new to the profession,

being sent to negotiate alone

or as part of a delegation often excites them.

Let alone negotiating,

just getting on a plane for the first time is an experience

that is both terrifying and exciting.

This is the first time to fly in orbit,

then for the first time to fly over the latitude of the world,

for the first time to fly over the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

After that,

he first went to the North Pole,


and then went to Africa and Australia for the first time.

And South America was also a thrilling discovery.

The first hundred things are covered

by the company for the first time.

This is sitting in the “Business” class seat,

sometimes accompanying the President,

and also climbing to the “First” class (first class),

entering a 5-star hotel,

but the 5th star is special,

like a 6 star style.

At that time,

I suddenly remembered my childhood

when I went camping with a scout.

At night,

I brought a mat to sleep on the sandy beach,

but all night,

I felt as comfortable as in a thousand-star hotel,

making the comparison of 5 stars

with thousands of stars very poignant.

This is going to parties in places for the “upper-class”,

traveling in conjunction with work trips to far away places…

For those of you who are profound,

you can also feel the happiness of meeting new people four countries,

not only in official meetings

but also outside the framework of negotiations.

On weekends,

when they cannot return to their home country,

they use the day off to visit Niagara Falls,

Mount Kilimanjaro,

the Sahara desert,

temples such as Borobudur tower,

Angkor Wat,

Eiffel Tower,

Lake Leman,

Great Wall

And sometimes,

more simply,

just walking on “Fifth Avenue” (5th Avenue) in New York,

Hyde Park (Hyde Park) in London

or the Vatican right in the Italian capital Rome is also a miracle indescribable happiness.

Then there were the first times to shake hands with a Minister,

a President,

a Prime Minister,

a President.

Just like that when the age of the profession has allowed

to enter the selected places.

The heart is happy to see the honor,

when leaving,

I think that life is sometimes “monumental”.

Then, when he reached the age of standing more,

a car came to pick him up at the foot of the plane,

Then, they are exempted from airport procedures

for high-class guests and go straight to the motel.

A line of girls in national uniforms made a fence of honor.

At the ceremony,

the opening speech was given.

Every first time is filled with strange feelings,

but when not able to control the desire for fame,

I feel unspeakable pleasure and satisfaction.

Yet another first time,

when I happily presided over the biggest contract signing day

in the history of power plant projects.

I personally signed a contract of several billion dollars,

the first time my personal signature is more expensive than gold,

even just signing it can not imagine

how big the amount of that project is.

On such occasions,

the remembrance of honor helps to forget

for a moment the untold hardships to reach the result.

But honestly,

after saying the right side,

we have to talk about the left side.

The life of the “negotiator” isn’t as great as you might think it is.

On the surface it is “yes not so”!

My friend,

when it comes to negotiating,

even in places near scenic spots,

it’s not that interesting.

The first is that the mind of the delegate is extremely tense.

Right before leaving,

there was a fight between teammates,

so when you come back

without bringing the signed contract,

you will be badly talked about.

The mind is tense,

the heart is pounding all month before leaving,

not just 5 minutes before entering the meeting.

When it comes to being a representative of a large company,

oh well, forget about sightseeing,

because there is always a team accompanying you,

whether it’s Sunday or public holiday.

Then, on the rare occasions

when you can leave the delegation to go sightseeing,

you can’t have your wife to follow,

you can’t take your children.

You go alone,

or many alone,

but all are soldiers of the company,

week after week,

month after month,

winter to spring and summer,

then autumn,

then winter…

And so on,

in in place.

If there is anything to visit,

you will have visited many times already,

and only a few weeks later you will be bored,

decide to stay at the hotel to rest for your mind,

instead of visiting the Eiffel Tower

or walking in Hyde Park forever,

you also feel crazy.

Gradually, you will miss the family meal,

which is frugal but warm.

You will get tired of eating native rice.

There are places like India,

every morning,


and evening curry;

in France,

steak and knife

and fork meal after meal;

if negotiating in Japan,

then raw fish every meal dipped

with Kikkoman soy sauce mixed with wasabi…

But if you like me have been negotiating year after year in China,

oh well,

I told you in a previous chapter,

all eat is eat,

every meal is 12 dishes is less;

If you are so bored by food that

you have to hide or have to declare that

you are sick,

just ask to rest in your room with a bowl of white porridge.

In terms of habits,

it’s even worse,

you can decide to do it according to your own interest.

When you’re sleepy,

you have to negotiate,

when you’re awake,

you have to touch the cup to drink wine while sleeping,

he was called by his colleague at night

due to the time difference

between the place of negotiation

and the mother country.

Then you have to negotiate in a foreign language,

all day,

even all night.

Then I don’t know

if you can stand one day at a time talking in English

with an interpreter,

then listen to this guy translate into Chinese,

Korean, then translate somewhere

for you to hear the reaction of foreign partners.

Friends, just like that,

day in and day out,

reviewing the vocabulary

and grammar of the foreign country,

very boring!

I have a colleague who hates working in English,

and after a six-hour session he exclaims to his partners “Overdose!”,

the commonly used word for the situation of a man

who almost died on a cigarette for overdose.


the President or General Director of the company calls out a sentence that seems

to hit you in the head with a hammer:

“Why, have you signed the contract yet?

What’s taking so long!”.

After I finish talking,

do you still want to be a negotiator?

Can you stand being away from your family for a long time?

Let me tell you more about this and see how you react.

I normally fly at least 4 times a week,

and my record is going to 8 countries in 7 days.

It’s been like that for 40 years,

so guess how many times I’ve escaped?

Please have 3 times!

So less or more?

The probability is also high,

because 3 times out of several thousand flights,

the probability is higher than the security standards of air shipments.

As for my wife,

three times I risk driving her crazy.

At those times,

if it weren’t for both Buddha and God,

I wouldn’t have been able to sit here

and share these stories with you!


every time I had to get on a plane later,

my family couldn’t contain the anxiety caused

by the obsession with the accident.

The first time she escaped was on a Thai Airways plane.

Boarding a plane from Bangkok,


a Boeing engine caught fire in the middle of the road,

on a pitch black night.

The flight attendant rushed

to close all the windows so passengers could not see the drizzle

from the right wing of the plane.

Seeing that I knew what was going on,

she gently begged me to stay calm, not alarmed.

I heard the captain decided to drop the engine into the sea

and we decided to return to Bangkok and safely dock.


The second time,

I sat on the plane of Garuda,


passing through the newly reawakened Krakatoa volcano,

spewing smoke.

The plane only flew through a cloud of smoke and ash at 10,000 meters,

but it was still shut down for more than 10 minutes

and lost both speed and altitude.

Then, when the plane was only 3,000 meters away from the ground,

the engine suddenly turned back on,

causing the passengers to go from despair to revival.

This revival remains forever in memory

as a macabre page of history,

amid the savage howls of terror from the passengers.

The third time was much worse than the first two.

That day,

I woke up late,

but the way to the airport was stuck in traffic,

so when I arrived,

the passenger registration procedure was locked.

I begged and begged to get on the plane that hadn’t taken off yet,

but in the end was still refused,

had to wait for the next flight.

Exactly two hours later,

while still sitting at the airport,

I heard the news that “my” plane

(which I had just missed) had crashed into the mountain and died.

A few days later,

I read in the newspaper about the tragic incident,

there were no survivors.

And like all tragic accidents,

it happened as if it were God’s number.

At that time,

I hid this accident from my wife

because I didn’t want her to have more uncontrollable fears.

The worst thing for me is that every time there is a problem

with a flight around the world,

just like that,

my wife calls me on the phone,

you don’t take that flight?…

It’s been like that for decades.

I don’t know if any other woman in my wife’s position can stand that situation?

Being the wife of someone

who has to go on a plane often should not be weak.

Does anyone reason with probability at such critical times as mentioned above?

To summarize for those of you

who are curious about the fate of entrepreneurs, just say:

not eating well,

not sleeping well,

family life is not normal,

erratic pace of life,

high risk,


It’s been a long time,

and even though I’ve been to dozens of countries,

I only see airports and hotels everywhere I go.

And by the time I retired,

my blood pressure was too high,

my stomach was broken,

my intestines were no longer normal,


I couldn’t stand being idle after 40 years of flying

with erratic take-offs and landings.

Do you ask all the merchants who travel a lot to see if that’s true?


The French often say,

“The shirt does not make the monk”.

This sentence is so true.

When we see someone wearing a monk’s robes

we cannot judge too soon about their posture

and believe unconditionally in their appearance.

But know what to do,

because when we negotiate,

we often meet partners for the first time in our lives,

so we are forced to rely on their appearance to guess the style.

Of course,

during the negotiation we will have the opportunity

to learn more closely about the people who are working together.

But it is also impossible to have enough time

to make a precise judgment.

You must have heard many stories about golf sessions

or parties before the conference started.

All those sessions are intended for partners to get to know each other,

especially to understand each other’s styles.

All the vices of each partner look so obvious at a party,

even revealing themselves

if they’re involved in a winning or losing game.

If you ask me what is the best attitude to take

when I have to participate in these games myself,

I will not know the answer.

Hiding style is also a way.

Revealing style is also a way.

Maybe it depends on the place,

depending on the partner,

depending on the topic of conversation,

depending on the strategic goals,

depending on the time we have to handle the problem.

Once upon a time,

a Canadian friend taught me a valuable lesson.

He told you to always tell the truth in life,

even if you stumble at times,

but for the most part you will greatly simplify your life.

And by doing so you will also simplify the interlocutor’s work.

He also told me that when negotiating,

I should speak my mind directly,

or that of my company.

Saying it out loud will open up the other person’s heart

and this will speed up the negotiation.

There’s nothing worse than an open-minded attitude.

Then he joked with me that

when he went to ask his wife the Canadian way,

the future father-in-law asked if he loved my child,

and he immediately replied,

“Yes, Dad.”

So the father and son received each other

and the marriage went very well,

so far they have lived together for more than 50 years!

Friend, there is nothing more beneficial than declaring boldly in the first meeting:

“We came here with the ambition to bring the contract

with you back home!”.

Saying it doesn’t cost extra,

but it makes an impression on your partner.

An old Malay friend,

a prince in the court,

told me one day that

his whole life was based on an honest attitude.

He said people never die for being honest,

on the contrary being honest is a “cute” attitude.

When negotiating,

be honest and get to the finish line as quickly as possible.

I have not had the opportunity to apply this method of his,

but looking at his life,

I must admit that the results are convincing.

He was so successful in everything he deserved.

Another Thai friend also told me to be free

and clearly state what

I want in the negotiation.

If the negotiation can’t end with cooperation,

it’s not really because we have made it clear,

but because it helps the other party know what they want very soon,

so they can react early…

Just like that,

everything goes fast,

do not have to delay and hide,

do not have to be the partner to question

and hypothesize this and that.

Go straight,

say it is the top book.

The friends mentioned above were famous figures in their time at work,

and they almost agree on the relaxed

and honest style when it comes to negotiations.

I will add that when you have to go to dozens of countries,

negotiate with all kinds of people,

it is better to be free and loyal to yourself,

to your culture and style,

so it is difficult to slip.

If you are adventurous with the culture of someone you don’t understand,

you will sometimes create difficult situations for yourself.


I also want to advise anyone going to negotiate

to keep an attitude of listening,

listening carefully,

listening carefully,

so ask again and again what the partner wants to say before you react.

Listening is an attitude that is considered modest,

so it is easy to empathize.

Asking again and again might be seen as dodgy in real life,

but in a negotiation,

that attitude is favored.

Partners always like to meet people who speak accurately,

listen attentively

and finally thoroughly understand the content under discussion.

The way the problem is presented is also very influential.

I always choose the “open” solution,

but rarely allow any topic or key point to be narrow.

When narrow,

there will be no room for negotiation.

Let me take a very simple example.

When a partner sells expensive,

and asks you if it is expensive,

the narrow attitude is to answer

“It’s too expensive!”,

and the open attitude to negotiate is

“It’s really not cheap!”.

What does the word “not cheap” mean,

guess what.

I think that when entering negotiations,

you should always keep an open attitude,

avoid narrowing the content.

When it comes to style,

there’s a lot more you have to know.

How you dress and behave is important.

When I go to European countries,

I usually wear dark clothes,

and my tie is always blue.

If you go to Arabia,

you should use a lot of green.

Reminding that to say that the partner will evaluate every detail,

and what is better than choosing the colors of the clothes

according to the main colors of the native flag.

When you go into negotiations with Apple or Google,

be ready to wear jeans after the formal first meeting.

When you go to the UK to negotiate,

on the contrary,

you should make a 3-piece set.

Dressing like a partner to please,

what’s there to criticize?

When I’m like them,

they’re like me,

of course it’s easier to empathize with each other.

At least they will recognize the effort of their partner’s outfit

according to their own taste,

will feel very close to them.

* * *

There are things that are very upset

I want to share with you about packing in general.

The first annoying thing is that you can’t check in luggage

when you have a lot of documents,

especially confidential documents.

You are required to hold your hand for two reasons:

If you don’t hold it right away,

there is a risk of loss,

but if you lose it,

no company will accept you so irresponsibly,

and you will lose your whole workplace.

The second reason is that

when you leave your document “roaming around”

without someone accompanying it,

it is likely that your document has already been copied

or even sold to the “reverse” partners.

There is one detail that is difficult to deal with:

documents are often very heavy.

Once I had to personally carry 30kg of documents.

In my day,

if you took a “First class” ticket,

you could carry as many kilograms as you wanted.

However, this 30kg made my hand ache for a week,

before I had to bring it back to the office after the meeting!

The second annoying thing is that in parallel with the material,

I am most afraid of trips from cold climate countries to hot and humid countries.

Try going to Beijing and Singapore on the same trip in January.

Going to Beijing you have to put on a woolen coat

to withstand minus 15 degrees Celsius,

and then deal with 35 degrees Celsius

when you arrive in Singapore.

The total temperature difference is 50 degrees!

You have to bring warm clothes

with dozens of cold clothes.

And every time you lose your suitcase,

“only to die”.

Having to handle the minimum of hot

and cold clothes is a difficult problem,

if for some reason you still have to carry your entire suitcase.

This has happened to me many times,

those times I just landed at the airport,

went into the conference room located right there,

and then after the conference got on a plane to another country.

In those cases,

you cannot waste time waiting for your luggage

and then have to return it.

Here’s my advice:

I’d love to negotiate at the airport when I arrive,

in a lounge at the airport hotel.

I encourage you to do the same as me,

because doing so will avoid having

to carry heavy things far away,

and especially change clothes

because of hot or cold!

Today, almost every airport has a hotel designed specifically

for this service.

Since the problem of clothing is very important to me,

I solved it by having a variety of very thin

and very warm shirts.

My suits are all selected with wrinkle-free fabric.

And my outerwear has two types of padding:

thick wool padding for the cold season

and thin silk padding for autumn.

All clothes are made of quick-drying materials,

no ironing required.

And so,

year after year,

there are only two suits pulled from Europe to Asia,



because it is considered to be optimized

so that the suitcase is always light,


and therefore not never have to send.

Many people,

including my wife,

ask why I need to optimize my luggage.

Asking that is not understanding the art of flying.

When you do not send luggage

but always carry it by hand,

you will never lose anything.

In addition,

when you arrive at the airport,

you don’t have to wait for your luggage,

you can go straight to the taxi stand,

and because you get to the station faster than other passengers,

you don’t have to wait for a taxi.

After all,

by the time you get back to your hotel,

your flight companions are probably

still snooping around

or swarming a kilometer-long tail before getting into a taxi.

In addition to clothes,

you also have to bring electronics.

Today, young people are very happy.

Electronic machines are small,


light and easy to carry.

Chargers are also getting smaller and smaller.

The next generation will not need to bring much

because most of the “cloud” computing services already store your documents,

wherever you go,

just “launch to the cloud”

to download the document.

When I was young,

there were no portable computers,

of course mobile phones and laptops were luxuries

that the world at that time could not imagine.

I still remember even the typewriter has no memory,

weighs tens of kilograms,

when I type wrongly,

I have to retype the whole page!

Therefore, my negotiating team must always bring at least two secretaries.

These two ladies were a week ahead of time,

their luggage had to include a typewriter

as well as a telex and photocopy machine.

Why bring a copier?

That’s because when it comes to printing the cost of the project,

we can’t let the enemy side see any of our documents.

They love watching you.

Today, the problem is quite the opposite.

Complete electronics.


everything must be protected with passwords.

Electronic warfare greatly enhances negotiation,

at least in terms of support equipment.

Finally, I would also like to remind those of you

who are going to negotiate to bring familiar medicines.

Don’t forget for weeks,

you’ve been on and off planes all the time,

sleeping in a strange bed every night,

changing the climate frequently,

eating erratically.

Then when you are thirsty at night,

there is no bottle of mineral water available,

so you open the faucet to drink.

Abdominal pain is very high.

Forgetting to bring medicine is your “life” with headaches,

runny nose,




heart attack.

And if anyone has the habit of playing have to remember many other things.

Because when you see some unpleasant symptoms,

you know who to call in a foreign country to treat you right away?

My experience shows that illness always occurs at night,

for a very understandable reason:

only at night do you have time to think about health,

and during the day you are too busy with negotiations.

There’s one drug that’s essential

when you’re flying from continent to continent,

separated by six or seven hours of sleep,

which means you’ll have to deal

with a classic but persistent phenomenon that makes you tired:

due to time difference).

Mealtime on one side is sleeping time on the other!

The majority of people always take sleeping pills

to help regulate sleep,

even from the moment

they board the plane they start taking one.

And just like that,

they wear airplanes to go wherever they want,

they sleep!

I still recognize the sleeping pill solution is quite effective,

but I never apply it to myself.

I used to worry a lot,

unfortunately the plane had to crash quickly at a strange airport,

if you are fast asleep because of sleeping pills,

you will faint,

your body will be soft, your eyes will be closed,

while all passengers have to landed at an airport in a foreign country.

At that time,

if you forget your belongings on the plane

due to a lack of mind,

it will only make the situation more complicated.

It is better to be tired from lack of sleep than

to be unsettled in the face of trouble

– that has been my argument throughout my years of work.

Ethics in Negotiation

You can keep ethics in any profession,

even negotiating!

That is enough to make you question whether the negotiation is “clean”.

You must have heard that

projects are the perfect place for corruption to run rampant.

That’s not wrong,

and of course

I had to deal with too many unreasonable demands during my work.

However, every country has corruption,

even those that… are not corrupt.

In a Muslim country,

I was told that corrupt people can have their hands cut off or executed.

Those who went before me advised me

to bring some holy books (Q’ran) to give as gifts.

Not books sold at bookstores!

These are old books,

priced at least a few hundred or a few thousand dollars.

No one can blame you

when you give a precious guest a holy book.

And no one can forbid those who have antique books

from selling their collectibles to others…

Even saints have to bear it!

Corruption is an “art” that I do not master

because it has been done by intermediaries,

and you should never be allowed to do it directly by the company.

From the 2000s onwards,

the famous companies in the world

and listed on the stock exchange did not allow their employees

to talk about these illegal things.

And not only are the laws strictly prohibited,

the techniques of control are increasingly effective,

and even all money transfers at banks around the world

today are closely monitored.

Only countries with a lack of rule of law,

a lack of criminal law,

and national scandals on

these issues have little room for corrupt behavior.

I have only one general comment that in many countries

there are corrupt groups with little patriotism!

They invest their money at home,

while the majority go to places like Switzerland,

Luxembourg or the Cayman Islands to hide their money.

In Thailand,

these groups have enriched themselves,

but at the same time

they have helped Thailand’s economy to leapfrog

as huge amounts of corruption are reinvested locally in factories,

in infrastructure projects that are difficult to finance.

As a result,

Thailand’s economy has skyrocketed since the 1980s,

and I have been able to see firsthand what I have to say.

Indonesia (Indonesia),

the Philippines (Philippines) were not much different

from Thailand in those decades.

When it comes to corruption,

it must also refer to a country that thoroughly controls corruption,

with impressive results.

That’s Singapore.

Our group won a huge project in Singapore

without having to spend a dime on carrying a politician.

As the head of the French delegation,

I met the client exactly once until the contract was signed.

Singapore law strictly forbids government employees

from accepting any service company gifts,

including a cigarette,

and we are never allowed to invite civil servants from any ministry

to eat or drink.

Of course, there was never any drinking together.

Penalties for breaking the law are very severe.

The former General Manager of the Singapore electricity company was sentenced to 10 years in prison

for receiving a small gift from a famous German company.

And this same German company was also banned

from operating in Singapore for a long time,

even though they have been lobbying

for an apology to return to the market.

I have a very optimistic nature,

my heart always longs for the next generation

to have a healthy world.

However, it is also hard for me to imagine

how fast the improvement can go.

There are many governments in the world today

that not only have not made the market healthy,

but have also deliberately created an extremely chaotic situation

to easily manipulate the economy and projects.

There are places where

they don’t hesitate to invent huge projects mainly

to create a broad base for corruption.

The ancients were so profound that there was a saying:

“The water is cloudy,

let’s go fishing”.

I once had to refuse the conditions proposed

by a high-ranking person directly at the conference,


half sad,

half tough.

There were also times

when I felt sad because my own assistant betrayed

and sold the company’s documents.

That senseless gesture makes

you feel that you are no longer sane

and incorruptible

due to the actions of someone close to you.

Then there are also very delicate times

when a head of state in a Central Asian country

dares to extend his hand directly to ask for something or other.

At that time,

the feeling of life was bad,

like sitting under a dark cloud covered

with thunder along the sky.

There is one thing,

if you do not know,

you should know:

In this world,

many people ask for money.

From mean faces to whiter,

more luxurious faces.

Please still ask,

as an inevitable fact.

These people in real life seem very difficult to lose face,

but when asking for money,

they are indescribable.

The strange phases of a life of negotiation abound.

I will never be able to vent it out,

because when you go here and there,

around the world,

meet all kinds of people,

all cultures,

all feelings,

any unexpected thing can happen,

any situation is okay

It has the ability to transform into a miracle.

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