Life, even from when we are in the womb, unfolds under a permanent environment of negotiations. The tips on negotiation that I chose correspond to situations in which negotiating was de rigueur. 

When I was just starting out in my professional life, I once attended a business meeting in the office of a good banker friend. As the night before he had been to a wonderful party, that day he had what we Venezuelans call a “mouse” and the gringos call a “hangover”, that is, a headache and general malaise as a result of staying up late and drinking. To hide the ravages of the party on my eyes, I put on some sunglasses and went to my engagement. Once the meeting was over, my friend waited for the other guests to leave and, in a fatherly tone, he told me: “Alfredo, never wear sunglasses in a business meeting again. People like to intuit in the look of their interlocutor, his intentions; remember that the eyes are the mirror of the soul». From that early period of my life until now I have been accumulating this type of experiences that have helped me to develop opportune negotiation techniques.

And it is that to be a good negotiator it is enough to be observant and have a good dose of common sense, the "least common of the senses". I knew of a case in which the vice president of a major computer company witnessed the moment in which the President of a corporation proceeded to award him a lucrative equipment supply contract. At the precise moment of the signing, the supplier's representative, who was standing behind the contracting party's chair, made a mocking sign to one of his teammates who was sitting in front of the desk. To his bad luck, the top executive displayed on his desk a framed photograph of his family group that served him on this occasion to capture the reflection of the comical gesture. The businessman's reaction was immediate and forceful: he refused to sign the contract and broke relations with the supplier company. The moral of this story is that when we are negotiating we should not be "kicking" under the table or elbowing or winking at our colleagues because that could hurt the susceptibility of the counterpart.

On another occasion it happened to me that, arriving at the building in which I had been summoned for a meeting, I observed a lady when a pile of folders fell to the floor and sheets of paper began to fly in all directions. Risking being late for my meeting, I patiently helped the lady retrieve every last page. What would not be my surprise when I discovered that my meeting was, precisely, with this grateful lady. The contract, of course, I closed in the midst of an atmosphere of good humor and camaraderie. And, although this is not a negotiation technique but a show of civility that yielded its opportune fruits, a moral is derived from here "Do good and do not look at who".

To conclude this recount, I will tell you the anecdote of when a neighbor entrusted me with the sensitive task of acting as his divorce attorney. The writ of demand had been consigned by the wife in angry terms and evidenced resentment and disappointment for the sacred bond. That, seen from the cold perspective of Law, promised to be a trial where "the blood would reach the river." At stake was the mental health of two beautiful children and a significant amount of wealth, which had occurred within the marriage. With the start of the trial, an arduous negotiation process began between the spouses in which I was the husband's representative. The positions, on paper, seemed irreconcilable but noticing the hesitation of my client and neighbor I realized that despite the scorn he still loved his wife. This forced me to make a “u” turn on my intentions of seeking patrimonial advantages for my client and opting to act as a marriage counselor in a process in which the deep and underlying mutual love that this couple professed facilitated a happy outcome. After this sentimental storm, a new offspring joined the strengthened home. Moral: "Appearances are deceiving."

In future installments we will continue to talk about these refreshing and useful topics.

And let us not forget that "a man is rich in proportion to the things he can throw away." (Henry D. Thoreau.)

by Alfredo González Amaré* /


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