REAL-WORLD INSIGHTS

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Published: Nov 15 , 2019
Author: Richard Savage

“The trouble, Richard”, a prospective client once said to me, “is that I can get a better service elsewhere for less money” …the salesman’s worst nightmare! But I was desperate; I’d been trying to get this research proposal over the line for weeks and we really needed the revenue. I was ready to compromise and do (what I thought) was necessary. But that compromise (or unconditional concession as we professional negotiators like to call it) didn’t just cost me the arbitrary 15% discount to get the job. It set a precedent for subsequent jobs that overtime amounted to thousands of pounds.

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Published: Oct 31 , 2019
Author: Robin Copland

Negotiations are often formulaic. Management, for example, go into a negotiation fully expecting the union to make the first proposal. This approach has been accepted as the norm for so many years that somehow, it is seen as “not the done thing” to do anything different. If management is keen to...

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Published: Oct 24 , 2019
Author: Stephen White

Probably the most common reason for the slow uptake of all-electric cars is the fear that they might run low on power with no way of recharging before the battery is completely drained. To an extent the fear is irrational. Most drivers use their cars for...

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Published: Oct 10 , 2019
Author: Alan Smith

It is quite easy to see the problem of negotiators being involved in the deal, but not the act of putting the deal into practice. The sales team who are committed to delivering on their target may not be that concerned about what happens at the implementation stage, or worse leave it to others to pick up the pieces when they over-promise or throw everything in to get the signature on the paper.

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Published: Oct 03 , 2019
Author: Robin Copland

First of all, the technique – it is called “Lesser of Two Evils” and Boris Johnson is the latest to use it. The idea is that you give the other sides two alternatives, it’s kind of an extreme version of “Either / Or”. One of the alternatives is completely unacceptable (“No Deal Brexit” on 31 October) and the other only marginally less so, Johnson’s so-called “Final Offer”. Oh – and just add that wee phrase, “Final Offer” to the mix to twist the knife. “Take it or leave it”. Bound to work.

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Published: Aug 15 , 2019
Author: John McMillan

My children used to try it; "Dad, just say Yes". But I don’t know what the question is. Just say Yes first. I never fell for that trick. Now we see other grown-ups (?) using the same technique; the pre-condition. Boris Johnson, currently the UK Prime Minister, has said...

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Published: Aug 08 , 2019
Author: Stephen White

I was sorry to read of the demise of the Spudulike chain this week. They are another victim of overblown High Street rents which make life so difficult for retailer tenants of every description. I think with a bit of creative thinking there was a solution for Spudulike. Started in Edinburgh in 1974 it had a simple and compelling rationale –...

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Published: Jul 25 , 2019
Author: Richard Savage

It’s holiday time and there is no better feeling than the prospect of a well-earned break, some icy cold ones in the sunshine and some quality time with the ones you love. But it comes at a cost. At least getting there does. As witnessed by the start of my family holiday last weekend, a cost that made me think about the balance of power in any conflict, and how it can change just when you least expect it.

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Published: Jul 04 , 2019
Author: Alan Smith

If you are watching the politics of the moment you will be watching the leadership battle for the conservative party, and thus premiership of the country. What you are essentially watching is a battle of egos in the attempt to win over the members of the party as to who can do the better job. Hunt claims to be the master negotiator and entrepreneur. Johnson the ex-London Mayor boasts about his ability to lead huge organisations through change and having the strength of character to make difficult things happen. You can decide...

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Published: Jun 27 , 2019
Author: Alan Smith

Alanis Morrissette’s “All I Want” from the wonderful album Jagged Little Pill, could have been written with Jeremy Hunt in mind. Hunt is vying for the leadership of the conservative party against the much-fancied Boris Johnson and asking the same question in a number of different ways. Hunt seems keen to...

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Published: Jun 13 , 2019
Author: Sam Macbeth

Just recently my Dad passed away. I’ll spare you details, suffice to say anyone who has been in the same situation will know the difficulties this brings. As the last person of my direct family, I inherited...

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Published: May 16 , 2019
Author: Stephen White

ITV’s announcement on Wednesday that it was permanently cancelling The Jeremy Kyle Show led me to wonder whether the format revealed any truths about conflict resolution and (perhaps voyeuristically) to see just how bad it was. So I watched the episode broadcast on May 9th, still available on YouTube. Oh dear.

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Published: May 09 , 2019
Author: Stephen White

‘Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’. This guideline, part of Article 50 of the Treaty of European Union*, has been a continuous soundbite during the Brexit negotiations. But two other international negotiations which were in the news this week reveal a different gloss on this guideline, which although it might seem both logically and morally right can be much more flexible than at first sight. Firstly the US-China trade negotiations. All was going well...

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Published: May 02 , 2019
Author: Alan Smith

No, this is not some oblique reference to beginning a training plan for next year’s London Marathon (although not a bad start!), nor is it a reminder of the old gag about walking a mile in my shoes and you’ll end up at a bar, and I’ll have no shoes. It’s about really trying to figure out how the other side in any walk of life see things and wondering if that might change or adapt the way we deal with them.

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Published: Mar 28 , 2019
Author: Robin Copland

I was talking to a friend of mine from Singapore this week and the subject of Brexit came up. His basic and simple question was this: how can the mother of all parliaments have got themselves into such a mess over the Brexit question? He told me that at 20.00 in Singapore, traffic comes to a screeching halt and, if possible, everyone gathers around a TV to watch the latest instalment of the comedy show from Westminster.

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Published: Feb 21 , 2019
Author: Richard Savage

I have gone from screaming rage to smug and calm in 24 hours. And I am glowing from what feels like a moral victory. But actually, what I have achieved is simply fairness. My adversary has not so much submitted, as seen a situation through a different lens, and shown some humility. My prize? An apology and £57.67 back. That’s all. The trophy though has been extricated from the UK’s largest utility company (not that I should name names), a £28 billion+ UK based company no less. This is no silver bullet for taking on the big guys, the Goliaths of this world. But there is a lesson or two to consider, to improve your chances, that we teach on our negotiation skills courses.

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Published: Jan 31 , 2019
Author: Robin Copland

We have reached another climax in the ongoing saga that just keeps on giving – the Brexit negotiations between the UK and the European Union. On Tuesday 29 January, there was another (of many) momentous days when amendment after amendment to the original negotiated agreement was narrowly voted down. Each of these amendments was designed to address a particular set of interests. Eventually, the House of Commons heard the amendment forwarded by Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee, a senior grandee of the party and widely seen as the spokesperson of backbench Tory MPs.

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Published: Jan 17 , 2019
Author: Alan Smith

Ever found yourself in that nightmare scenario when you are in front of another party in a negotiation and the partner you have taken with you to the meeting seems to have gone off track, starts revealing new information, giving in on things you had both agreed before the negotiation, being conciliatory when they should have been tough or tough when they should have been conciliatory. Even worse, the other side have...

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Published: Nov 22 , 2018
Author: Alan Smith

Guess what’s coming? Not difficult really! John Lewis has released its new ad, the shops are full of tinsel and advent calendars, even Slade must be...

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Published: Nov 15 , 2018
Author: Stephen White

On August 30th, mid-evening, our home was broken into. We were away overnight. Fortunately, we had recently installed a video doorbell which alerted me about the activity via my mobile phone, and which recorded footage of the offender trying to jimmy open the front door, failing, and then disappearing around the back of the house. He climbed onto...

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Published: Nov 01 , 2018
Author: Stephen White

I was intrigued by a radio interview I heard last week. The subject was the long-running battle by the Trade Unions to win gender-equal pay rights for 12,000 municipality workers such as care home, catering and school cleaning staff in Glasgow. Frustrated with Glasgow City Council’s negotiating stance the unions representing these workers had...

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Published: Oct 25 , 2018
Author: Sam Macbeth

The BBC started a series re-run on Sunday called ‘Talking Pictures’ which showcases the careers of famous actors. In this particular episode, the actor in question was Alec Guinness – one of the interviews was originally conducted with Michael Parkinson in 1977. In the interview,...

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Published: Oct 18 , 2018
Author: David Bannister

Here in the UK, the news and social media is obsessed with negotiation – or, as some would have it, capitulation. As the moment of that final deadline nears (again!) and we all prepare for a life of isolation with grounded airliners and gridlocked motorways on the way to our main ports, my attention was attracted by a story which started with a negotiation about 3 years ago in Monaco. At that time a young man called Antony Martial...

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Published: Sep 13 , 2018
Author: Stephen White

People are fascinated by Pound Shops. They’ve been around the High Street for over 20 years. Stores like Poundland, Poundstretcher, Poundworld, and others grew their estate and their customer numbers rapidly when Woolworths failed and austerity kicked in at the beginning of 2009. Not all have succeeded. 99p Stores were absorbed into Poundland, and recently Poundworld went into administration. For most, the original premise – that everything in the store is £1 – has had to go as inflation limits the stock range that can be sold profitably at that price point. Most of us...

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Published: Sep 06 , 2018
Author: Stephen White

Undoubtedly the question Scotwork consultants are asked most by clients and course participants is ‘How do I deal with a negotiator bully at work?’. More on that another time. The second most common question – ‘How do I get a better deal when going for a new job or a promotion?’ was brought to mind by an interview to be aired by the BBC next week with Lord Mervyn King. In preview excerpts, he asserts that the UK Government has been incompetent in the Brexit negotiations and that “a government that cannot take action to prevent some of these catastrophic outcomes (such as a shortage of medicines and food if there is a ‘No Deal’ result) illustrates a whole lack of preparation”. What is the connection?

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Published: Aug 30 , 2018
Author: Robin Copland

The Caspian Sea is the sea that isn’t. It is landlocked and does not drain into the ocean, so it really should be called the Caspian Lake. Big lake, mind you, but there we are. The five countries surrounding the Sea, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Russia and Kazahkstan have just recently signed a convention ending twenty years of dispute that has hindered the exploitation of the Caspian’s oil and gas reserves. Russia’s President Putin hailed the convention as “an important moment” and “a major landmark event for all our countries. “We have signed a convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea. This is...

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Published: Aug 23 , 2018
Author: Alan Smith

My 22-year-old daughter is currently 4 years into a 5-year course at Bristol University, training to be a Vet. Difficult profession. Lots of different types of sick animals who can’t tell you what is wrong. Nightmare really. Although she tells me at least the patients don’t come into surgery with a whole self-diagnosis thanks to Doctor Google. Right now, she is...

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Published: Jul 26 , 2018
Author: Stephen White

Years ago I was asked to evaluate a sales-training ‘game’. The player sat in front of a screencast as a salesperson tasked with winning an order from a big corporate prospect. As the story unfolded the player was asked to make decisions from a multichoice selection and then given feedback. My evaluation was based on me being that player/salesperson. The first decision required was...

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Published: May 31 , 2018
Author: Alan Smith

What a great question. And one I was asked recently by a client who was interested in figuring out a metric by which they could measure deals to figure out if they were good or not. I am sure in the past we have all sat back as the ink begins to dry on the contract, and wondered if the deal was a good one...

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Published: May 24 , 2018
Author: Alan Smith

After a weekend of celebration over the Royal Wedding, seems a shame to bring up the seemingly inevitability of the prospect of divorce. But I shall. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle exchanged vows in front of 600 guests including the Queen, more than 30 royals and famed faces such as Oprah Winfrey, tennis champ Serena Williams, actor George Clooney and his advocate wife Amal Clooney, Sir Elton John, David and Victoria Beckham and actor Idris Elba.

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Published: Dec 14 , 2017
Author: Alan Smith

The maxim, “it ain’t over till it’s over” is a maxim because it's true. Fans of Queens Park Rangers were lambasted by their manager for leaving before the end, in their recent match against Brentford. At 2 – 0 down and into injury time, many of the QPR fans decided to leave Loftus Road and missed what makes sport remarkable, 2 late goals from QPR bringing home a draw from their local rivals. Ian Holloway, the QPR manager said, "I was disappointed with our fans, I'd like to say. You should have stayed. You might not have missed your last bus, but you missed a treat. For me, it feels like a win, for them it probably feels like a defeat.”

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