Getting to Yes, Global Style

Charging hard right up the middle is fun, but ineffective

David Iwinski Jr.

Managing Director



David Iwinski Jr.

Managing Director

Blue Water Growth

US Mobile: +1 412 352 7997

China Mobile: +86 183 2128 4064

Skype ID: david.iwinski.bluewatergrowth

Getting to Yes, Global Style

Charging hard right up the middle is fun, but ineffective

By David Iwinski

While talking to some business associates taking the plunge into global markets for the first time, I was struck by how for some their initial enthusiasm for making international deals had faded into frustration. Part of this change is that the early stage energy and adrenaline that comes with new adventure and opportunity had been dealt a blow by long nights of handling issues in far-off time zones but also the perception that the rapid pace enjoyed in first days was a grinding to a crawl.


Cutting deals in America tends to be more of a contact sport, with the parties and their legal surrogates doing battle but reducing the crux of a deal to a few critical issues as quickly as possible.  In Asia, however, it’s less a game of impact and more a matter of testing patience, determination and stamina.  


To keep your deal from hitting a wall, keep these things in mind…


Don’t Be Surprised By Anything  The opening response to a proposed deal may be an outright rejection or perhaps an absurd counter-offer.  It is important to not be rattled by this and to simply listen, absorb and ask clarifying questions. Such an aggressive technique may be a misunderstanding or a deliberate move to have your team unsettled right at the start. In either case, the best course is a calm, measured and methodical response.


Don’t Make Unilateral Concessions  In any deal, there will be give and take but in global deals, perhaps the worst unforced error is to make concessions without a trade in other terms or in the scope of effort. This suggests to the other party that your initial offer was merely a ruse to see if they would accept a one-sided offer. No matter how they respond to your first offer, make your adjustments a matter of trading elements of the deal, not just dropping price.


Move In Small Steps, But Always Move  The second worst error is refusing any motion, just sitting and forcing the other side to a yes or no decision.  This is often memorialized with terms like “BAFO”, the infamous “Best and Final Offer”. Once the step is taken to close off alternatives and force a showdown, ego and loss of face can dominate the decision process and kill an otherwise workable deal.


Options Are Better Than Ultimatums  When the first (or fifth) offer has been rejected, rather than an outright concession, it is better to offer a range of options. Present multiple trade-offs covering things from payment terms and price to adjustments in volume, delivery and service levels. The more options you put on the table, the more ways your potential partner can play with the pieces of the puzzle to find a mutually satisfying arrangement.


Close The Door If You Must, But Don’t Nail It Shut  There are times when even after a long difficult negotiation you just can’t suggest enough alternatives to keep the discussion alive and the requested changes can’t be accommodated. In those cases, by all means walk away but always do so with respect and with an open invitation to talk again. Circumstances for both parties may change and deals can easily be revisited if the ending is positive, dignified and gracious.


Americans love to push hard and “get down to brass tacks”. Our impatience and eagerness to advance can be a great strength but in the international arena one that must be tempered and seldom given voice. Overseas the better negotiators play chess, not football.

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