(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

A Life of Negotiation. Subjectivity and Objectivity in the Language of Negotiation

A Life of Negotiation

Chapter 9: Subjectivity and Objectivity in the Language of Negotiation

When it comes to negotiating tables,

there is nothing more dangerous than both sides

(or multiple parties) not understanding what the other side is saying.

You may think that

there is no way to misunderstand sentences such as:

the price is too high,

the company has no experience in building this type of factory,

the concrete is not thick enough…

Misunderstanding is not “easy” to come.


negotiation is always a conversation with more

or less technical character.

In addition,

no matter where the meeting was,

there was a document there,

there was no room for confusion.

In short,

it is not easy to misunderstand

during the negotiation process

and so it is easy to feel secure to continue to negotiate impartially.

When I was a young professional,

I used to think like that,

especially at the time when the negotiations in which

I was involved were small-scale.

Selling an oil painting factory,

or building a short road are both small projects,

and less thorny.

After a few rounds of negotiations,

each session took about a week to sign a contract,

about the builder,


purchase price,

selling price and necessary terms.

Then, when I had to lead a delegation

to negotiate a project of more than several hundred million US dollars,

I began to realize that misunderstandings,


incomplete understanding,

and incorrect understanding of the problem are very important often occurs.

In 1991,

we had a negotiation in Tehran, Iran.

My delegation wants to sell a 2 x 350MW power plant project,

approximately 300 million USD.

After the first working session,

which lasted from noon to night,

I suddenly had an idea

and asked my three dozen teammates:

“What did you understand after today’s opening?”.

30 people have 30 different answers,

different opinions,

separate evaluations,

and the assumption that the next day’s situation is not the same…

In my heart,

I immediately felt uneasy,

my mind reeled!

Only their own side is like that,

let alone the other side,

they will certainly have many different opinions.

I suddenly wonder where the prospect of disagreement,

disagreement will lead the negotiation,

will it be an exciting or bitter psychological adventure?

I asked my teammates:

“Do you think the Persians (Iran) really want to buy the French power plant?”.

This is a fundamental question.

If they want to buy,

they hope to sell their electrical system someday.

On that question alone,

my team split into two camps,

with diametrically opposite conclusions.

This Tehran story is perhaps enough to highlight the difficulty

of reaching consensus in negotiations,

and of course the importance of language in negotiation.

People often think ears to hear,

eyes to see,

brain to think,

mouth to speak.

That is only true when analyzing the function of the body.


when I entered the conflicts,

putting economic,


and technical interests on the table,

not to mention hidden or private interests,

I witnessed many other interesting things.

Many people listen with their hearts,

speak with their livers,

understand with their hearts.

For many people,

the mind is like a useless part,

reason is like a redundant function,

rarely used.

Only a few people are willing to listen,

and the majority prefer to talk more than listen,

and when they listen,

they just like to hear what they want!

Because of this understanding,

professional negotiators measure the importance of seducing the other side,

sweetly persuading what they want to sell,

so much so that even though they sell at a high price,

customers still want to buy.

One of my negotiating teammates in the 1980s was a Belgian engineer.

This guy has a knack for getting the sympathy of a very talented partner.

Just sit with him for an hour,

you will be filled with affection for my company right away!

We often use him as a leading striker.

One day,

I asked him the secret and was shared:

people live according to the motive of subjective thinking.

I am the interlocutor,

so I should follow their subjective line.

You like beer,

I also like beer;

you like to eat fish and shrimp,

so do I;

I will share whatever you like,

friendships and colleagues will of course blossom

and develop even though they are just getting to know each other.

The secret lies in the fact that

when the other person liked it,

I fell into their subjective mind.

That means I have some control over them already.

From then on,

whatever the “enemy” said,

they did not listen anymore,

or just let it go.

On the contrary,

people who always behave objectively

and speak objectively are considered cold

and lacking in perception.

No matter how good these people are,

how eloquent they are,

when they say it,

people only find it good,

but no one follows!

The French have a saying:

“Whatever you do,

you must cuddle in the direction of the hair”,

which means that

you should never show the opposite of your partner.

Subjective and objective are so different!

In 1989,

I had the opportunity to apply this negotiating strategy.

Back then my company had the opportunity

to sell its power generation plant

to a state-owned enterprise in Thailand.

At the same time,

this company intends to buy many huge power plants

to supply electricity to Thailand’s industry,

which is thriving.

Someone “poured” into my ear a secret is

that in the electricity industry there is a powerful person,

as long as he agrees,

we will sign a contract.

I went around looking for someone to introduce this guy to me,

and I learned that he was a guy who loved to play golf.

So I rushed to learn to play golf

so that I could accompany.


the leader invited me to his house for dinner

and then invited me to join him on family outings.

Only then did I know that

he was loved by the whole nation by the name Super-K.

He is a consultant to King Bhumibol Adulyadej,

former Minister of Industry and founder of EGAT,

Thailand’s electricity company.

But most of all,

he is famous as a kingmaker in his retirement (the creator of kings).

Every time a new cabinet was about to come,

politicians would visit him to ask for advice,

and every time he recommended someone,

it was as if that

lucky person had been appointed a minister in the new cabinet.

During the two long years before the bidding,

I followed and talked with him,

but I never dared to say that

my company wanted to sell the power plant.

I spent so much time investing in this relationship

that even my company misunderstood the content of this job:

“Two years he went to Thailand,

but there was no report about it. job!”.

Colleagues blamed me for buying plane tickets,

using the excuse of going to work for the company but traveling,

playing golf,

in a country full of temptations!

Suddenly one day,

the old man of the Super-K power invited me to go

to Phuket with his family.

When he got there,

he said he liked my company very much,

and without going around,

he confirmed that he would sign a contract with me

for the upcoming power plant project,

worth US$470 million,

in Rayong,

10km from the city. 50km east of Bangkok,

in an industrial area called the Eastern SeaBoard.

He also said that there is no need to negotiate much,

because “My brothers’ technology is too well known,

my brothers’ prices are also too well known… just play golf with me,

no need to negotiate!” .

I ventured to ask that there was supposed to be an auction.

The old man just replied:

“That’s my business!”.

I later learned that

when he founded the electricity company EGAT 18 years ago,

he personally hired every employee who is still working.

He often cares about their family background.

He appointed each General Manager in succession

as his beloved children,

all Directors,

all positions,

all branches.

He is truly the beloved patriarch of five thousand employees

of all kinds and positions.

Every year,

on New Year’s Eve,

grandparents invite all employees to share rice,

even those who take out trash to sweep the streets.

Therefore, 20 years later he is still the real boss of EGAT.

I have hypothesized that he likes my company

because I am simple,

not fussy,

not looking for titles,

and perhaps he also feels

and appreciates my innocence.

So I signed the contract,

after a negotiation in a family atmosphere,

the result of two years of peaceful,

happy golfing.

After signing,

I understood the importance of negotiation language,

the more subjective the better,

sometimes so subjective that no more words are needed.

Affection is close enough.

If you keep on eloquent objectively,

it may not be possible to avoid tough opposition and criticism!


it can’t be denied that at that time,

my company’s victory was completely

due to a subjective assertion of a powerful figure

who was not familiar with before.

* * *

One of the ways to guess your partner’s mind

before you start to understand the bridge of sympathy is

to monitor and observe their body language.

This is difficult to do if you are not used to it.

In 1991,

I went to China to negotiate a power plant project at Chong Qing.

This was my first adventure into the Sichuan region,

not understanding their village customs.

Our delegation spoke French,

the other side spoke Chinese,

so both had to have an interpreter.

My group consisted of 47 people,

the other side did not count all,

sitting at a conference table full of four rows of seats in front of us.

Gradually I let my deputy lead the negotiations,

while I watched, watched…

You wouldn’t expect there to be so much to watch.

The first is to see how they shake their thighs.

Every time they shake their thighs,

I believe they agree with us, more or less.

Later, I also sat and counted the number of vibrating thighs.

There are times when we give a speech

that only vibrates a few thighs,

sometimes dozens of thighs together.

Best of all,

when the Chinese leader’s thighs began to shake,

we knew the castle of happiness wasn’t too far away.

But then there were moments

when we saw someone shaking their thighs,

but also someone stroking their nose,

someone scratching his head profusely,

someone stroking his beard again,

and we understood that the other side was divided ants,

people like people don’t.

Looking at them,

we understand who is against,

who is in favor!

And the most frightening was

when I spoke as the delegation leader

but the other side kept staring at the clock.

A partner is still yawning.

At that moment I felt how alone I was,

even though I was in the midst of a crowd!

In my whole life of negotiation,

I’ve always preferred someone

who’s always shaking their laps than people always look at the clock.

Come to think of it,

God has also favored me.

After all,

in my life,

I have met people who shake their thighs more than scratch their heads,

scratch their hair,

and stroke their noses.

No wonder negotiation also has a fate!

That’s true,

my friend,

when I recall what happened to me in 1974.

At that time I was a young consulting engineer,

probably inexperienced,

though I must add that

I worked in the industry a world famous French consulting firm.


the company received a very difficult consulting job assigned

by a Spanish billionaire.

This man owned a piece of land in the south of Spain,

in the Almeria region.

You can imagine an area 10km long on the coast,

4km deep, completely owned by him.

A wonderful “sun-and-sea” piece of land,

at a time of the real estate bubble.

The sea is immense and blue,

the sun is warm and warm for almost the whole year.

The new billionaire assigned our company

to advise on what to do with such a large space,

and also estimate the total capital to be spent

and in what form of funding.

Over the course of a few months,

my company’s school sent one after another,

it was the project manager himself,

a skilled engineer who spoke Spanish as his mother tongue,

an elite team working with sophisticated science.

But he didn’t seem to be interested,

just hum.

Then the project moved forward and backward,

none of which made him agree.

To be honest,

at that time,

my company was in a panic

and did not know what

to suggest further to satisfy the valued customer.

Then all of a sudden,

the billionaire excitedly asked us to send an elite team

to meet him on exactly two weekends,

Saturday and Sunday.

Everyone on our side ran

because no one wanted to carry the body to him

for further criticism,

besides the custom of the weekend is very sacred to the French,

and they often dedicate it to their family,

wife and children.

It is difficult to convince anyone in the company

to fly out on Friday night,

return on Monday morning to go on a holy day.

So they designated me as a “volunteer”.

I think the main reason is

because I am Vietnamese

(I had Vietnamese nationality at that time),

it was difficult to refuse.

They also added a few lies that

a very important job must be given to an engineer

with a bright future.

I am very sad because of my poor fate being deprived of my day off,

and also very worried

because for several months the project has been stagnating with no way out.

I thought… how can a swallow like me bring spring?

I couldn’t have predicted what was going to happen.

On Saturday morning the billionaire received me at eleven o’clock,

and he looked visibly delighted when he saw me.

He asked: “Vietnamita?”

(Are you Vietnamese?).

I politely replied,

(Yes sir. How did you guess that?)

He just smiled.

However, from the moment he met me,

he happily talked non-stop,

did not ask me anything

and did not allow me to speak.

But even if I give in,

I don’t know what to say.

But he invited me to have dinner

with my family in the evening,

and then listen to flamenco (traditional Spanish dance) singing

and dancing.

This is a proof of esteem,

as Europeans rarely put their families on display,

especially the family of a billionaire aristocrat.

I choked with mixed joy and anxiety,

not knowing what to say.

It wasn’t until the evening that

I figured it out.

His family has a lot of connections to the Vietnamese people,

and to put it bluntly,

they probably like me just

because I’m Vietnamese.

By the next day,

he was happily talking about work.

So you keep proposing to build this university here,

then a sailing center there,

then a small coastal town in that place,

and so many things that

I can’t remember now.

I devoured his comments.

On Monday,

when I returned to the company,

my precious fake colleague asked how the work was going,

and I just replied that it was not there

when the lovely billionaire called his boss.

With a cheerful voice,

he praised me as a good engineer,

having brought the project to his liking.

My boss fell on his back

and couldn’t understand where he was going.

But personally,

I know that the skin color of

“The Dragon and the Fairy” played a key role in the encounter.


another opportunity to understand that negotiation,

even if it is called objective,

is only subjective!

In Spain I didn’t have to say a word,

but the talk for the project quickly came to a good conclusion.

Unexpected thing again?

In all my negotiating life,

I have never found objectivity

to prevail over a biased subjectivity.

Subjectivity is like a cold stone,

if you press it into the water,

it will rise again,

difficult to disappear.

I also remember

when negotiating

with a minister of Indonesia (Indonesia) about the project

of planning a new city,

his intention was clear like this,

until the cabinet changed,

the new minister completely opposite opinion.

So think about whether his opinions are objective or subjective?

I also worked with the railway authority in Chile.

Every time they forgive changing

the project manager was once our company had to redesign the entire graphic.

Subjective or objective,

think about it?

However, there is a very strange habit,

worth noting,

that whenever anyone speaks,

it also begins with the sentence:

“Objectively speaking…”.

It’s worth noting,

because I’m sure they were very honest with themselves

when they thought their statements were objective.

Friends, if you want to be successful in real life,

as well as win in negotiations,

you should objectively do what the investor (subjectively) expects.

That is the most objective way to understand subjective language!

You just believe me.

Things to remember

The basic thing in negotiation is:

they understand exactly what we want them to understand,

and we also understand exactly what

they want us to understand.

Looks simple,

but practice is extremely difficult

due to the subjectivity of each partner.

Successful negotiation depends on the ability to persuade.

Claims must be objective,

based on technical

or scientific factors.

However, the subjective factor cannot be ignored.

Flirting makes your partner’s ears more attentive,

which tends to make their minds more receptive.

And of course when they come to a conclusion,

they are more likely to approve the petition.

Negotiation is a human-to-human conversation,

not a machine-to-machine conversation.

They listen with their hearts,

think with their hearts,

and reason with their emotions.

In short,

everyone thinks they are objective

while their behavior is completely subjective.

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on telegram

Related Articles

Angel Cherry

Creative Blogger

cherry angel
Translate »