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A Life of Negotiation. Psychological War

A Life of Negotiation.

Chapter 3: Psychological War

Negotiations are of all kinds:

Buying and selling goods,

renting things,

weddings or any other exchange requires negotiation.

But not everyone likes to negotiate.

The majority always “match”,

even lack confidence when having to answer

and explain to people they don’t know.

But whether you like it or not,

get used to it or not,

you still have to do it.

Every day many things are changed hands,

so sooner or later,

everyone will have to deal with the difficulty of negotiation.

Of all the difficulties,


and controlling the partner’s psychology is the most difficult.

Once upon a time,

I lived in Hanoi,

Ton Dan street,

the red stone house number 15, was still there.

Our neighbor has a lady who comes over every day,

if she doesn’t ask for some salt,

she will borrow some sugar.

That’s all,

but that habit later became a habit,

when she didn’t pass,

my mother couldn’t help but be surprised.


people born late after giving birth can’t understand

how precious things like sugar

or salt were back then.

The salary in the past was not good,

few people made thousands of dollars,

let alone millions,

so any house that can store a little sugar,

a little salt,

a little fish sauce,

a few jars of fragrant white rice is terrible,

very affluent.

So it’s very easy to get rich.

The affluence of the past,

in the 50s of the last century,

was just that.

My parents were always full of temperament,

so when someone borrowed something,

they never counted every grain,

measured every can.


whenever I meet people who eat well like that neighbor,

I get annoyed,

if I don’t give it,

I’m afraid of being famous,

but if I give it,

oh well,

shameless people are also abundant in society,

they will tell each other to pull the herd come home

and offer your hand.

Since that day,

I have understood what it is to put pressure on others in life.

In my family’s case,

it’s surprising that people ask for themselves

and still keep the upper hand,

because they’re the ones putting pressure on.

How to beg and pressure at the same time is a secret to me.

It was only later that I understood that

the situation depends a lot on psychological perception.

To induce guilt is to use psychology.

Creating fear in someone is a psychological effect.

Putting a person in a position of fear of reputation is also a psychological blow.

As a small child, I was surprised at that time.


only 30 years later,

I am the person assigned by society to wave the flag,

wander everywhere,

trade and sell.

Then the situation

and the situation gradually shaped the person I am,

whose nature is inherently easy to trust people to be naive.

I must confess to you that

the negotiating life has had many times that make me afraid,

sleepless nights,

even months.

At one point,

my driver saw me pale,

his eyes seemed to lose his soul and said:

“Oh my god,

it’s okay,

you come to the meeting on behalf of the company,

there’s nothing personal about you that makes you worry so quiet?

Dude, if you stay like this,

you won’t be healthy in the long run.

I’m worried about you!”

But after all,

what must be the face to be pale,

the eyes must be lost,

the stomach must be tight,

the mind must be crazy.

Many times I laugh at myself

because all my job is to represent the company,

optimize my work,

and negotiate wisely.

Just do your best.

However, he only smiled faintly for a while,

then his stomach tightened again,

so much so that even if he was thirsty,

his throat could not swallow a mouthful.


there’s no denying it,

I’ve obviously suffered a psychological blow!

My company has put me in a position that

I can only get out of

if I get the negotiation right.

What has the power of a thousand pounds to pressure me like that?

Is it a salary?

Obviously not!

Is it narcissistic?

Nor, because of which pride is so huge and naive?

So what if not a force without form,


half a sense of responsibility,

half akin to a desire to prove one’s ability,

to strengthen one’s role in society?

Another part of feeling is due to the culture and religion

I have absorbed into my body when I was young,

and the last part is my human nature like that.

Is there anything else,

I don’t know.

After all,

it was my psychology that led me by the hand,

and I was just a card,

a victim of my own psychology!

* * *

After all, one of the weapons

that can turn a tilting negotiation upside down is the psychological factor.

For example,

if the project owner is “crazy” for your products

while the rival company starts to get bored

with the negotiation,

or the project owner is afraid of something in the plans of the companies.

then you are close to the goal of winning

and have an element of optimism in your hand!

Just like in chess,

if the opponent is affected by psychological factors,

it is difficult to reverse.

In games or other sports like tennis,


especially athletics or golf,

psychology plays a key role.

Before sending a player to the field,

the coaches just hope to inject the player’s head

with a strong belief that they will win!

In the high jump or pole vault,

the athlete must think positively,

believing that he or she will pass a certain level of the bar,

otherwise there is no use jumping!

It’s not just people who have to think positively.

What are cockfights if not a psychological game?

There were big cocks

that just jumped into the battlefield and ran like… ducks.

After all, it was only

because the enemy chicken was scared as soon as he saw it.

A chicken that sweats with fear is a chicken that is about to lose!

Big or small shouldn’t be the deciding factor.

It is the will to destroy the opponent that plays that role.

In recent days,

I’ve seen television replays of old boxing matches of Mike Tyson,

a former heavyweight world champion.

If you compare Tyson with his competitors,

he is a head shorter,

his arm span is 10 inches shorter,

and yet he cuts his hair very short to reveal a round head

that is delicious for punches,

that’s it but every match is like every match,

Tyson wins according to a “pattern” that is difficult to explain.

On the stage,

the audience always only saw Tyson punching constantly,

every opponent was hypnotized.

There was a guy on the radio that couldn’t punch a ball,

was punched by Tyson for a round without retaliation.

And what has to come is that

sometimes just one inning is enough to end the game!

What made Tyson prevail so easily if not his fierce look?

Just looking at his beastly teeth,

the audience must also shudder in fear.

The punching machine Tyson keeps moving forward,

forward, punching and punching,

punching and ramming,

don’t know if he should be likened to a mad bison

or a bulldozer that can’t back down?

Tyson is not afraid of pain,

not afraid to lose,

not afraid to fall,

and that makes opponents afraid and lose confidence.

The psychological factor behind strength makes it extraordinary.

* * *

Back to the negotiation,

what is the psychological hit?

What tactics and negotiation techniques should be used?

The first is to create strong trust

with customers about the company and its products.

In 1988,

I had to go to Egypt to negotiate a power plant project.

At that time,

Alstom was a company that was in a “lack of food” position,

so it was necessary to get a contract.

The opponents are all “super international players”

such as General Electric,

Brown Boveri,




Alstom’s image of electricity technology is still very high,

and I take advantage of that good image to ” nailed to a pole”.

On the first day of negotiations,

I would like to make the following opening statement:

“The specific technology you want to buy is currently

only available to four companies in the world,

of which only Alstom technology received the most response.

German technology has a new factory exploded in Finland,

Japanese technology is only used by a few countries,

I can’t put all my trust

because the number of machines running is not much,

especially the US has technical standards.

The technique is not suitable for your country’s electricity system.

Meanwhile at Alstom we have moved into the second generation

of new turbine technology.

The other countries are still in their infancy

and are still gathering experience…”

Of course,

who can’t say that!

But I injected the “venom” on the client side.

Don’t forget they are a group,

not an individual buyer.

They will have to study,

talk to each other about my words.

The “venom” lies in the fact that

“the German factory blew up,

and the Japanese limped

(which is also capable of exploding!)”.

This is a kind of psychological “venom”.

For example,

think about it:

after I announced that a German factory was blown up,

but they still stubbornly bought German goods,

I’m sure the public would suspect

that there was a smell of corruption.

Everyone knows the mentality of corrupt people is to avoid scandal,

so when everything is public,

it is difficult for them to continue to defend their chickens.

In this case,

the psychological blow broke the opponent’s hope.

Since then,

along with our efforts to pamper our customers,

we have signed a contract.

There are many strategies capable of making customers believe strongly

in the product we want to sell.

Among those strategies,

psychological attack is considered the most effective.

For example,

in the automotive industry,

people do not back down from any difficulty to gain customers’ trust.

The automotive industry is an important sector of the economy.

People often have a saying:

“When the automobile sector is healthy,

the economy is also healthy”.

Car manufacturing companies are very creative.

They make all kinds of racing cars, including F1 cars

that run at great speeds (320km/h)

and still have the ability to brake over a very short distance thanks

to extremely advanced brakes,

which are car races on snow.

with cars having to turn on cold rocks at a speed of over 100km/h,

which is a race lasting 24 hours non-stop…

All these races allow businesses to advertise

to gain credibility with customers.

Then they don’t back down from bolder,

more psychological advertisements like

placing a gorgeous woman near-naked on top of a gorgeous car,

which is meant to create a strong emotional impact on the mind of the buyer.

Customers are also not easily fooled,

but all the advertising phase,

the competition has a strong impact because in the end,

the buyer is still psychologically affected.

The nude beauty makes customers suddenly discover

that they love the supercar.

Since the car

and the beauty are the car will sell like… hot cakes!

The second psychological factor

to pay attention to is to cause fear

to customers or any other partners to keep the upper hand.

When I was in engineering school,

my teacher once told the

whole class that the majority of people often behave

according to their fear,

and in a panic,

the rational,

logical machinery no longer works

because of fear.

In short, when fear is no longer reasoned,

the attitude of “avoid is better” becomes a strategy,

albeit a bit sketchy.

Of course it is not possible in argument

and argument to simply use the element of fear.


when needed,

this element is always “eaten”.

In 1986,

a company in Korea wanted

to buy a 100MW turbine from our company.

That company president personally chose Alstom technology.

Because of their respect for their president,

when negotiating,

the company’s employees

only ask for the price,

not ask for anything else.

And we hit a psychological blow:

Alstom had only one 100MW turbine left to sell in 1986,

which a South American power company also expressed an interest in buying.

This Korean company was afraid not to win this last turbine,

so it signed the contract.

After signing,

I met the president of the company in a very enthusiastic atmosphere!

The staff too,

they were not afraid,

looked relaxed.

I detailed this negotiation in the previous chapter.

Fear has paralyzed all bargaining power of a collective.

Fear is of all kinds.

So it’s very easy to use the fear factor.

Can you imagine a delegation of 30 experts sitting

in front of you negotiating with you,

and guess how many types of fears these people have

that can affect the negotiation?

Fear of unsuccessful negotiations.

Fear of buying and selling,


Afraid to speak or act inappropriately to complicate negotiations.

Imagine a negotiation that lasts months,

years, every day you have to speak for hours…

Then the fear of saying the wrong word,

even a single word,

is a legitimate fear!

Fear of being exposed,

in case something goes wrong.

This fear is not too “cool” in countries

with the rule of law because here,

there must be clear evidence

before having the right to accuse anyone.

But in countries with vague and babbling legal corridors,

the fear of having a bad reputation is enough to be afraid.

It’s terrible

because as soon as the public learns about the incident,

whether it’s true or not,

the society’s reaction to the person

who has a reputation is very unfavorable

not only for themselves but also for their families.

Fear of competitors breaking into the company’s traditional territory.

Friend, this is a scary,

wacky case.

As a young engineer,

I worked for a French company with a strong foothold in North and Central Africa.

At that time,

many Japanese companies came to ask for a joint venture with us,

offering a lot of attractive project financing conditions.

They are very much looking forward to our approval.

In those 1970s,

Japan’s influence was very weak in Africa,

so they thought that joining forces with a French company

that already had influence in its entrenched territory

It would not only help them win the prize,

but also give them a lot of money,

their first achievements in territories that were new to them.

I remember my Chairman mumbling all day long:

“It’s attractive,

but I will never be the one to bring the Japanese into the territory

of French companies.

Having a great reputation,

the public will criticize it heavily!”.

The fear of being caught off guard

by a strange partner breaking into a private playground

is a terrible fear at a time

when the world was not open

and the phenomenon of globalization had not yet begun.

Because once they are recognized by the market,

they will forever be competitors,

they will divide the market share,

something that every company must avoid.

By the time

I had moved up to positions of higher responsibility,

I was often worried

when new competitors from outside massively entered my company’s playing field.

I used to fear that Canada’s Lavallin would enter the French consulting market,

Canada’s Bombardier into the French rail market.

On the contrary,

I have reaped the glory of leading our company into Singapore

after winning the North-East Line in a metro project

to the despair of Siemens (Germany)

and a Japanese company.

That’s their territory,

my company,

our company has never sold anything in this new market,

so they must be desperate!

Just before that,

my company won the Epon project,

a 9000 MW combined-cycle power plant on the territory of Germany,

such a rare occurrence, so unacceptable,

that Mr. subsidiary of Siemens) to resign.

In this man’s position,

I probably have to suffer the same situation,

because losing at home is never an honor,

especially for a world champion like Siemens.


when I learned that my German “unfortunate” colleague had to resign,

I blurted out a heartbreaking word to comfort him:

“We do a damn job,


Studying for 7 years after college,

practicing intellectuals for life,

but still having to kill each other like a bunch of thugs just

because of a project.

You forget rule.

There is a saying:

“Away from the face,

from the heart”.

There is nothing more true than you.

Humans have a point that they easily forget each other.

I have been a victim of oblivion many times.

Once, I was only absent for six months,

but when I returned,

I couldn’t find my own office anymore.

The old secretary was transferred to another unit,

my personal belongings were sealed,

however no one remembers where the sealed package was kept.

Only one person who was lucky enough to know left the company

many weeks ago.

When I complained that the company would treat me like that

when I went to negotiate to win,

the answer was cold and hard to refute:

“Who can manage well enough to leave the office empty for many months?

The ground must be used effectively!”.

And there was another time,

not only could I not find my personal belongings,

but they also decided to transfer me to a new unit.

Once a job has changed,

it’s completely changed!

So spent the effort to negotiate in the cold winter,

cold feet, hungry mouth,

and when he returned to glory,

he was met with indifference.

That lesson I remember forever,

because the fear of losing a place can never be forgotten.

Knowing that people’s hearts are so meaningless,

but what do you do now?

On the investor’s side,

there are also many fears weighing on their minds.

The biggest fear is not being able to buy goods!

It’s not that difficult to be.

The sellers can get bored,

or find another deal to buy them a better price!

Investors are also very afraid of not choosing the right service company.

They never reveal which company they like,

but they still choose secretly,

hoping that when the negotiation is over,

they will sign a contract with the company of their choice.

This is not something you want to have.

Sometimes they have to sign with the company

that ranks second,


The investor is also very afraid that

the budget for the project is not enough to complete the project.

In this case,

the investor has to find more sources,

which is not easy,

especially the shortage sometimes reaches hundreds of millions of dollars.

There is also the fear of incidents during the construction period,

such as earthquakes,

or strikes by employees of the main contractor or subcontractor.

Each time like that is a big worry for the investor,

because the time lost has a lot of financial

and social impact…

All sources of fear will have a strong influence on the actors

around the conference table.

If you skillfully know how to use those fears like a musician gliding on the keyboard,

you will control the psychology of each playwright according to your will.

There is only one point you must remember:

Once you have come to use fear as a weapon,

there is no turning back.

When people start to fear the shadow of astral fear,

that fear will last forever,

clinging to hauntingly.

Strong fear psychology is really strong,

but I advise you to save the plan to scare people.



when people know that

you have the intention to scare them,

they will hate you forever.

* * *

The psychology of negotiation isn’t just about creating fear.

The historical element must be considered an important psychological weapon in the negotiation.

I love reading history of countries,

so sometimes

I feel that historical factors play an important role in relations

between countries in general.

During the period 1986-1995 I went to China many times

to bring the delegation into delicate negotiations.

Every time I give a speech I must remind that General De Gaulle

as President of the French Republic was the first head of state to recognize China.

So much so that

when I accidentally forgot to mention this important historical event,

the interpreter automatically translated,

even though the original did not mention it!

Of course, that’s why France signed many contracts with China, especially during this period.

There was a time in China,

when my company was at a disadvantage compared

to Japanese companies in terms of technology,

we remembered to recall the actions of Japan in modern history in China,

especially in Nanjing,

in parallel with fine adjustment of his “study”.

And it was as if the very next day,

smiles were back in our negotiating ranks.

* * *

Personal psychology also plays a big role.

During a negotiation on Metro Santiago in Chile in 1992,

the Chilean delegation leader had a rather peculiar personal history.


in our company,

there is an elderly engineer

who is an old colleague of this team leader.

I immediately gave him the negotiating role

and just kept the executive responsibility.

Needless to say,

we negotiated in an informal atmosphere,

allowing a few delicate issues to skim over.

This passing is not that we mean anything nefarious,

it is related to our weaknesses.

We acknowledge and promise to adjust.

The project owners,

due to the intimacy of the two sides,

are ready to believe in these promises.

You don’t always make a promise

and people believe it right away,

but between soulmates it’s different,

somewhat easier.

* * *

Psychology is also strategic!

And one strategy that cannot be ignored is the psychological trap.

Of all the traps,

the most effective is the conditional bear trap.

On principle,


This situation is like a bar

that launches a trick from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

to lower the price: two bottles of beer for one bottle…

like happy hours

(“golden hour” on sale).

By 18:00,

the price is no longer reduced.

It is not surprising that beer drinkers come in large numbers on this 2 hour promotion.

So what is the “golden hour”

when selling a metro or a water purification plant?

Only when the competition is too strong

and the hope is too thin,

do we apply this strategy.

At that time,

we suddenly asked to talk to the highest level of the customer,

that we are willing to reduce the price

by 10% on the condition

that the customer decides

to immediately sign a contract with us

within the maximum period of time is 24 hours.

We emphasize that we will not write the petition.

The unexpected,


crime was written to give other competitors the opportunity

to read the confirmation text.

Without the text,

the opponent will sell suspiciously,

and this is the effectiveness of the strategy.

24 hours is our golden hour.

So what happens after our offer?

Customers will be happy to see an opportunity to buy even cheaper.


the effect is very strong,

because down 10% in a 2 billion dollar project

means 200 million dollars already!

If you are an investor,

would you dare to refuse such a huge gift?

It’s difficult!

For the enemy side, it is clear that

the 10% deduction will make them fall back 24 hours is not enough

for a rival company to react in time.

To lower the price by 200 million dollars,

every company must meet the Board of Directors at least a few times

and still not be sure to get the desired decision.

This trap often puts rival companies in the bidding

in a very difficult position to resist,

because it is difficult for them to truly believe that

the customer is “threatening to play”,

because there is no document to prove it.

So they are being attacked by guerrillas,

and will not react in time.

For the project owner,

of course they will ask for an extension

because 24 hours is too short,

but in the end it is very likely that they give up.

The internal theory of the investor is

that negotiations can only go down to this level,

now that the bidding company gives such a big gift,

it must be unwise to not see the opportunity.

They will further think

that such a strong action of the contractor is obviously evidence

of the dynamics of the contractor,

so the contractor is even more trustworthy.

So the psychological trap

that has helped your company

from a desperate position to a position of the winner.

* * *

Whether it’s a trap or not,

psychological factors also have the power to move a game,

change the confidence of project investors.

It is important to emphasize

that no means can replace the quality of your product

and the morale of your company.

Also, the psychological factor only helps further.

The next application will not allow other details

to be neglected.

In a nutshell,

negotiation is a game between people,

which is then acting on each other mainly

through psychological weapons.

Loving each other,

trusting each other,

or fearing each other are states

that are difficult to explain.

The art of negotiation,


will have to rely on psychology

to steer in a kind of so-called psychological warfare.

Losing psychological warfare can easily lead

to the loss of the entire negotiation.

Psychological blow has a strong effect from

within the human heart!

It has the ability to knock a person down

as well as turn a chess position.

So just remember to use this silent weapon.

But when deciding to use,

you must consider and prepare carefully.

Things to remember

Negotiation is to build trust between people.

So breaking trust is a powerful weapon.

End-to-end negotiation allows the partner’s weaknesses to be assessed.

Those weaknesses allow the creation of the most responsive psychological weapons.

Psychological blow has a lasting effect.

Once scared,

no one wants to take the risk anymore.

If we exploit fears on the one hand

and indulge the client on the other,

of course we can easily tilt the negotiation in our favor.

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