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Authentic Deal-Making

Authentic Leadership & the Hero’s Journey

Acting From Your Inner Truth
Dov Baron works with the world’s top business leaders and high-level entrepreneurs to help them answer the question, “What’s next?” It may sound like a simple question, but when you’re already operating at the highest level, there is rarely an obvious choice to make. Dov takes his clients on a heroic journey to chip away everything that isn’t real. The journey enables leaders to unbind their success from their identity so they can leave old parts of themselves behind and move into their soul’s purpose.

It is an intense process that only rewards the committed, but the people who push through see incomparable results.

(Interested in growing your own ability to lead authentically? You can get a FREE copy of Dov’s ebook, Authentic Leadership!)

Discover Your Soul’s Purpose

When Dov’s clients grow their businesses and achieve new successes, it is not because they are focusing on business and strategy. Rather, it is because they are focusing on building a stronger connection with their soul’s purpose. Really doing that work has measurable results; one of Dov’s recent clients even grew his business by 5000%. But in our own world where we may already be highly successful, it is extremely difficult to be willing to go deep and chip away everything that is not truly who we are.

We are always doing, but we are rarely being.

Learning how to enter that state of being will put you in a position to handle anything life throws at you. Doing this work will also transform you, your personal life, your business and the deals you do.

Win-Win-Win

We have talked about the fundamental principles of negotiating and dealmaking many times on Fueling Deals. With Dov’s philosophy, we can build on those ideas.

In a deal, we always want to serve the souls on both sides of the negotiating table. One way to do that is by figuring out what drives the other person so we can reshape the context of the negotiation. Shift away from the win-lose mentality and approach the deal intent on enriching the lives of every party involved (beyond just the money). By creating a deeper connection with our soul’s purpose, this is all possible. But only you can make that happen.

You can always make the deal a win-win-win.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker with more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. He is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the Fueling Deals Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

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Authentic Deal-Making

Get Creative With Your Exit Strategy

Carl Gould built and sold three companies before he transitioned into business coaching. Today, his coaching methodology is shaped by lessons he learned from his own deals. Carl has done deals in marketing and event planning; messenger services; fuel delivery; landscaping; contracting and technology. But his lessons are applicable to any kind of deals on the buy-side or the sell-side.

Get Creative With Your Deal Strategy

When Carl sold his landscaping business, he was able to get a premium for the long-term contracts and relationships he had built. Similarly, his construction company also had monthly recurring revenue and there were more assets to sell. Carl continued to receive a commission for prospects he sent to the new owners because he used his brand as a springboard during the negotiations. Your brand can be leveraged post-closing to add value. Like Carl, you can sell your business and get out of the daily responsibilities you hate, while continuing to do the parts you enjoy and getting paid for it.

Plan Your Exit Strategy in Advance

If you want to be fully-out right away, you are likely to leave a lot of value on the table. This type of deal requires intense preparation and you will benefit by expanding the timeline. This is why Carl has seen such a dramatic shift in the deal landscape today; business owners have realized that they might not get the money they were anticipating and they don’t want to give up their passion. By planning your exit far in advance, you get more options because you’re coming from a position of strength. The same can be said for getting your management team on board. The key is determining how much of the revenue relies on the owner and addressing that as you prepare. Not all profit dollars are created equal.

Listen to the Fueling Deals podcast episode featuring Carl Gould’s interview about how to Get Creative with Your Exit Strategy.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker with more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. He is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker. He is also the creator and host of the Fueling Deals Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

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Authentic Deal-Making

The Fundamental Framework for Dealmaking

Negotiation is an important part of dealmaking, but it also impacts your business success as a whole. It is something that I cover extensively in my book, Authentic Negotiating, so I wanted to outline my fundamental framework in this episode of Fueling Deals. In thirty-five years of dealmaking, I have seen many tactics and counter-tactics. Some are manipulative and unsophisticated, and others are effective on the margins. But sound tactics will not take your deal across the finish line with the best outcome unless you have clarity, detachment, and equilibrium.

C,D,E

Clarity is the first fundamental principle of authentic negotiation, and it is composed of both an internal and an external body of work. Externally, you need all of the research and due diligence that will put you in a position to understand the party across the table, what the market is like, and what is fair. Internally, you need to do a deep inquiry into exactly what is acceptable to you and what is not. Very few people do the work necessary to get the level of clarity that is necessary for true negotiating success.

Detachment is the second principle, meaning you need to distance yourself emotionally from the outcome of your deal. After you establish clarity and understand each party’s terms, you should be prepared to walk if the deal doesn’t meet yours. It needs to be done from a place of clarity and reason rather than anger and frustration. Many people forget to check their egos at the door, but actively maintaining your detachment will help you rise above that.

Equilibrium is the third fundamental process. Even when you are coming from a place of clarity and detachment, it is possible to be overwhelmed by emotion in a tense negotiation. Your equilibrium will enable you to stay calm and connected to your sense of clarity and detachment. Anything that helps you center yourself in life can be used in a negotiation.

Final Thoughts

By including the fundamental principles of clarity, detachment, and equilibrium in your deal strategies, you will instantly see results. We are going to build on these in future solocasts as well, covering the top six reasons negotiations fail; the five steps to being a negotiator; authentic negotiation techniques; and the principles of CPR. But if you are able to get to clarity, detachment, and equilibrium, you will have an advantage over 90% of other negotiators. If you want to hear more about CDE, listen to my solocast episode, Clarity, Detachment, and Equilibrium, with Corey Kupfer.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker with more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. He is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker. He is also the creator and host of the Fueling Deals Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

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Authentic Deal-Making

Learn From Your Deals

We have already explored a lot of different ways that you can grow your business inorganically through deals. This time, I want to look at deals on a more personal level. I have done many deals and negotiations for other people as an attorney. But I’ve also done them for myself as a dealmaker. Some have gone well, while others provided great lessons. However, every deal has increased my capability as an entrepreneur, investor, partner and attorney.

Lessons of Early Entrepreneurship

I was familiar with entrepreneurship by the age of fifteen when I started my first business and managed real cashflow. I built a book of accounts and a team of employees, and we distributed flyers and other marketing materials for local businesses. It yielded roughly $300 a week and provided my first lesson in doing deals. The experience didn’t sink in until later. I didn’t recognize the monetary value of the accounts themselves. I didn’t even think about selling them but, instead, just closed the business when I left for college – a lost opportunity and good learning lesson.

In college, I managed to strike a deal with Clare Rose that gave me one of two distributor’s slots for beer kegs on campus. That provided a variety of perks, as I’m sure you can imagine. But in undergrad, law school, and beyond, the enterprise mindset was always present. Whether I purchased equity in small businesses or pursued side projects like real estate, I was always looking for new ways to do deals.

Higher Stakes Deals

With great opportunities, you need to act quickly, and I lost a few of those when I was younger due to a lack of capital. Partnerships can be restrictive, but they can also be a solution. I went into a real estate partnership and raised a fund so we would have money available to be able to act quickly on good deals. However, in real estate deals, everyone is exuberant when things are going well and they run away when a down market hits. We had to pull out of those investments after the investors refused to double down during the recession – another huge opportunity lost.

There are significant challenges for dealmakers of any experience level, but they will always prepare you for the next opportunity. Whether you are doing deals for your business or on the side, there are lessons you can take away from my mistakes and successes alike. Those lessons have led me to a number of deals that have been very successful for me. If you are interested in hearing more about some of the deals I have been apart of, listen to my podcast episode, Growing as a Dealmaker, with Corey Kupfer.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker with more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. He is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker. He is also the creator and host of the Fueling Deals Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

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Authentic Conversations About Difference

Learning How to Unlearn

If the last few years have taught me anything, it’s that we’re really attached to what we know—or think we know. Adding to this is the sheer breadth of information available to us these days means that we’re all working off personalized information streams. There’s no common denominator anymore it seems.

That’s especially foreboding when we’re presented with new information. I’m a huge proponent of lifelong learning. I think it’s one of the most important things we can do for ourselves personally and professionally. My fear is that as a society, we’re conflating information consumption—more often than not, information that confirms our biases—with actual learning. That is folly.

To truly learn, we have to be willing to unlearn. If all we do is seek to confirm what we already think or know, there’s no room for growth. If we want to commit to learning, we should be constantly questioning what we know, seeking challenging information and comparing it with our preconceptions of certain things.

Learning should be a constant process of clearing the furniture out of the room in our minds and then rearranging it based on the new pieces we acquire. That’s what I had to do when I decided to commit myself to authentic negotiating. There was no shortage of information that would validate the conventional techniques and tactics I’d learned, and it would have been far easier to dig my heels in on those concepts.

But, the obvious upside of authentic negotiating and authenticity in general was too much for me to ignore. I asked myself, “If you were just learning how to negotiate today, what would you tell yourself to do?” I’d cleared out the room, and authenticity became the centerpiece. We should approach all learning and growth this way but, why don’t we?

The Dunning-Kruger effect.

This is a phenomenon that once you hear it, you’ll notice it everywhere. In short, it states that many of us don’t know enough about a topic to realize how much we don’t know. Right away you can see how this immediately takes real learning off the table. If you’re satisfied with your expertise (or lack thereof) on a given subject, any new information will seem farcical and indulgent.

The Paradox of Expertise.

The site psychologytoday.com makes a good distinction between learners and knowers. At some point, perhaps for most of your life, you were a learner, maybe even a great one. Eventually that shifts and you become a knower. And this is where we run into the paradox. The better we are at learning, the more we’re able to know, and so the faster we become knowers. Learning then has to be a constantly iterative process, one that never ends. The best way to avoid the paradox is to simply never allow yourself to become a knower.

Instrumentalization.

We live in a hyper-specialized world. Whether it’s a specific area of law or a unique coding language, our experience and training effectively make us instruments of our chosen professions. So, we’re drawn to information that’s specific to what we do, and only engage with learning that can enhance our strengths. Personally, I find some of my best ideas and greatest inspiration when I allow my mind to wander, allow myself to be intellectually curious, and see what I can learn from other disciplines. Sometimes we have to unlearn the very basis of who we think we are to get past our own instrumentalization and become more well-rounded people.

Unlearning is a necessary part of the learning process. We shouldn’t recoil at the suggestion of changing our minds, but rather we should be excited by the prospect of refining our understanding of anything and everything. The human capacity to learn is something to be celebrated, but more and more I fear we’re letting it wither on the vine. If you’re ready to unlearn the ways you’ve ordered your life and let authenticity transform your life the way it’s transformed mine, let’s make an appointment: https://www.coreykupfer.com/workshops/

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker with more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. He is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker. He is also the creator and host of the Fueling Deals Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

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Authentic Negotiating

Authentic Negotiating: Winning vs. Success – Part 2

Instead of Refusing to Negotiate, Refuse to Engage your Ego.

“Check your ego at the door. The ego can be the great success inhibitor. It can kill opportunities, and it can kill success.” — Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

“Why would we table that issue? Jeff asked. “That’s a deal breaker.”
I had just gotten the Russian group to set aside our mutual concerns about the non-circumvention clause for a later session and my client, Jeff, was still uneasy. The problem was, he was still bent on winning, on beating the Russians. Even after he’d gotten clear on his objectives, he still struggled to separate winning from success.

I had more work to do. Here’s how Jeff and I worked through his hang-ups with winning:

Remember Winning is About Ego.

I had to remind Jeff that the behavior of the Russians was triggering his ego. They had succeeded in moving Jeff away from his objectives and turning his focus into nothing more than winning the argument against them. We didn’t want to win an argument, we wanted to achieve Jeff’s objectives. Before we could move on, Jeff had to check his ego and be OK with not “winning” this argument.

Consider Your Options.

Jeff had to be shown that getting the non-circumvention protection he wanted didn’t start and end at the negotiating table. In fact, we might have been misguided in assuming this deal would follow any sort of convention from the beginning. I told Jeff as much. We were getting our cash from the Russian group upfront. There was little we could do about due diligence, and we’d likely find minimal information if we could. I pitched something unusual to Jeff—let’s get your suppliers to agree to a non-circumvention clause with you. Jeff loved it, and since his suppliers had a good relationship with him, they agreed.

After a few days, we returned to the negotiating table with our objectives front and center and with more leverage than we had when we were worrying over winning the non-circumvention agreement. We were able to be flexible. With the suppliers on our side, we told the Russians that we’d concede the non-circumvention clause in exchange for three other key terms that were on Jeff’s list of objectives.

If we’d dug in on the protection clause, there’s no telling how long the fights would have been over Jeff’s other objectives. But because the Russian group was so pleased to have gotten a “win” on non-circumvention, they were eager to agree to our terms on the other items. In this way, we used their ego against them because we were able to not let ours stay engaged. What else could the Russian group have walked away with if they weren’t so insistent on this clause? They’ll never know, but at least they got that win.

Jeff and I were able to achieve his objectives by putting a win on the back-burner. I could be telling the story where Jeff and I refuse to move on the protection he wanted and stood up to the Russians, and how the stubborn Russians blew what could have been a good deal for them. But instead, we stayed connected to our objectives and realized how unimportant winning that argument was. In exchange, we got an almost clean-sweep of Jeff’s objectives in the deal including hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit for him on that one deal.

That’s the critical difference between winning and success.

To understand Authentic Negotiating, you have to understand the difference between winning and success. If you’re fixated on getting a win, you’ll never truly succeed. That’s easier to say than it is to do. A successful Authentic Negotiator knows when to put their ego aside and put their objectives front and center. How do you rate? Take my Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz to find out.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker with more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. He is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the Fueling Deals Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

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Authentic Negotiating

Authentic Negotiating: Winning vs. Success – Part 1

Winning isn’t Always the Best Outcome.

“The ego is only an illusion, but a very influential one. Letting the ego-illusion become your identity can prevent you from knowing your true self. Ego, the false idea of believing that you are what you have or what you do, is a backwards way of assessing and living life.”
— Wayne Dyer

It’s easy to conflate winning with success. It’s understandable. The common ways we think about winning and success are closely linked. If we win, we consider our efforts successful, and we typically quantify success by how much we’ve won.
I want to explain why that’s a precarious way of thinking and being. The best example I have is a deal I was working on in the 1990s, in the early days following the Cold War.

Business was just starting up again in Russia, but given the history the country was leaving behind, the Russians were cash-poor, had no access to foreign currency, and couldn’t get money out of the country. It would have been easy to walk away from a deal like this. The challenges were obvious and huge.

Most companies were trying to do everything by barter. Except the “unicorn” that approached a client of mine. A Russian group reached out and had cash, and had it stateside. They’d just done a deal with Perdue to fill half a tanker ship with chicken. They wanted my client to source tons of other goods to fill the other half.

So, we set off on what was a tough negotiation. The Russian team was not budging on what would be considered a common aspect of deals like this. My client, Jeff, was a middle man. He would connect them with suppliers, and a “non-circumvention” clause would protect him from getting cut out of the deal, as well as future deals. Their refusal to cooperate with this clause was causing Jeff to lose his equilibrium. It was putting the deal in jeopardy.

I had to get Jeff refocused to salvage the deal. I’ll share some of the key moments that highlighted the importance of focusing on success and abandoning the scarcity mindset of winning.

Revisit Objectives

I couldn’t fault Jeff for being upset. The refusal to bend on non-circumvention was a strong-man tactic that threatened Jeff’s ability to do business. His contacts were his livelihood. I had to remind Jeff that we weren’t at the table to agree on a non-circumvention clause. I asked him to list out his real objectives. It included the amount of money he wanted to make sourcing the goods, and a few other key terms.

Understand the Real Objectives

One of the material terms Jeff wanted was protection from being cut out of the deal and future deals. The language of non-circumvention had turned it into something more than it was. Jeff had to see that it was just one of his objectives. More importantly, removing the form and legalese that created the specter of “non-circumvention” helped him understand what he really wanted—protection. Why should he care what we call it or how we get it?

Once he was clear on his objectives, I was able to get through to Jeff and things started coming into focus. I asked him to trust me about what would come next. He agreed.

I went to the lead negotiator of the Russian group and said, “Listen, it’s evident that this is a highly-contested issue. Why don’t we just leave it alone for now? We’ll come back to it maybe the next time we sit down. Let’s talk about what else we have open.”

They agreed, and we now had some time to plan. To read about the outcome of this negotiating, look out for next week’s blog.

To understand Authentic Negotiating, you have to understand the difference between winning and success. If you’re fixated on getting a win, you’ll never truly succeed. That’s easier to say than it is to do. A successful Authentic Negotiator knows when to put their ego aside and put their objectives front and center. How do you rate? Take my Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz to find out: https://www.coreykupfer.com/authentic-negotiating-success-quiz/.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker with more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. He is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the Fueling Deals Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

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Authentic Negotiating

What to do With the Silences in Negotiations

I’ve told the story of Henry before. He and I were doing a particularly contentious deal. Henry had overpromised his clients and was feeling the pressure.

During one of the last phone calls we shared during our work together, Henry got triggered. In his ranting and raving, he said some things that would have set anybody off, and I would have had every right start firing back.

Instead I stayed connected to my CDE—Clarity, Detachment, Equilibrium—and it allowed me to do one key thing: stay silent.

Sure, Henry was comporting himself like a rabid raccoon, but his manic behavior was revealing. When he started making ad hominem attacks against my client, saying things such as, “he’s unethical,” or, “he’s going to lose his license,” I knew that I had the leverage.

More than that, by remaining silent and really listening to what Henry was saying (rather than just waiting to speak), it became obvious that Henry was pressing because he had promised his clients that the case wouldn’t go to litigation. They wanted to avoid a lawsuit.

If I had let myself to get into a shouting match with Henry, I wouldn’t have been able to effectively listen and process what he was saying and what it really meant.

If we’re connected to our CDE, not only should we know when to remain silent in negotiations, we should be comfortable with silence, because unless it compromises the objectives we’ve defined through Clarity, we don’t need to speak.

What does being comfortable with silence do for us in negotiations?

Silence Can Be Assertive.

You don’t have to be under arrest to reserve the right to remain silent. You have no obligation to provide an immediate answer to your counterpart in negotiations. Be contemplative, consider the response that can best serve your objectives. If the other side gets uncomfortable, it’s their problem—not your fault. You can also use silences as an opportunity to reconnect to your CDE and recall your context and purpose so that everything stays on track. Silences are your time to say “stop” and get realigned.

Silence is Disarming.

He who speaks first isn’t compromised. Playing the game of waiting to see who speaks first is tactical and inauthentic. That is not what we are talking about here. Silences that come naturally when you are in a place of CDE are natural human behaviors. I find few things more irksome than exploiting human nature as a negotiating tactic. You can and should choose to be silent or to speak when one or the other makes sense for you to your objectives. Silence from a place of CDE is powerful. If in filling the void your counterpart chooses to be reactive and say things without thinking them through, they could be revealing valuable truth—that’s why we need to be listening, not just waiting to speak. If nothing is said, body language becomes amplified. Keep an eye on that, because it will speak volumes—whether they are confident or anxious. It’s all information that gives you an advantage that you wouldn’t have had otherwise if you lacked CDE and weren’t comfortable during the silences.

Silence Keeps You in Control.

Being comfortable with silences and focusing on listening keeps you from being reactionary. Your expectations aren’t set by a typical exchange of positions. Your objectives aren’t contingent upon what the other side says or does, because you have clarity about what you want and are detached from the outcomes. There’s no need to speak just for the sake of following a script you think will get you the results you want. Either your counterpart agrees to your objectives, or you walk away because you are detached from the outcome and know there will be others that can meet your objectives. Silence allows us to preserve this control and frees us from the conventional back and forth that requires constant dialogue.

The Authentic Negotiator welcomes the silences in negotiations; they’re opportunities, not threats. But, if you’re relying on manipulative tactics that require a certain response from the other side, your deals will suffer through the silences because you aren’t getting the feedback you need to leverage your next ploy. It’s a vicious cycle. Authentic Negotiating can break that cycle if you’re willing to do the work. Get started with my Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker with more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. He is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the Fueling Deals Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

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Authentic Negotiating

What to Do to Save Your Negotiations

How Authentic Negotiators bring deals back from the brink.

“Negotiating in the classic diplomatic sense assumes parties more anxious to agree than to disagree.”
-Dean Acheson

About five years ago I was negotiating an exit deal for a couple—Bob and Linda—who had started a successful software company.

They’d been acquired by a larger tech company that was—they found out—only really interested in their product and client list, but at the time this company had also agreed to acquire Bob and Linda’s personnel, all while giving them a degree of the autonomy they’d enjoyed as leaders of their startup.

It didn’t take long for the company to renege on their end of the deal. They started letting Bob and Linda’s people go, and it became obvious that Bob and Linda, too, would be eventually phased out. Before things went any further, the couple wanted out, and they wanted to take what was left of their company with them.

The biggest challenge was that they were already livid at how they’d been treated. It was clouding everything, and their anger was making it almost impossible for me to do my job. For Bob at that time, this wasn’t a negotiation, it was a stick-up.

Negotiations were nearly dead when I had to get real with Bob and Linda. How did I revive the negotiations?

Return to CPR

CPR: Context, Purpose, Results. Bob and Linda’s context was outrage. They were losing sight of what was actually at stake, and were fixated on the villainous treatment that had descended upon their company by a greedy giant. Their negative context was also obscuring their purpose. They were only concerned with exacting some form of revenge. It was all so unproductive. Once we identified that their real purpose was to achieve a clean break, bring their clients with them, and return to how they used to run their company, Bob and Linda calmed down and were able to hold a more productive, effective context that would get them the results they wanted.

Know your BATNA

BATNA: Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. Bob and Linda felt like they were painted into a corner. For them, it was binary: the miserable status quo, or separating entirely with whatever was left intact of their old company. In doing so, they were giving their counterparts so much leverage. I reminded Bob and Linda that they had other options. Their clients were very loyal, many having personal relationships with the couple. They were in business with Bob and Linda, not the parent company. If Bob and Linda left, it was likely many of their clients would follow. These client relationships could be the starting point of a new venture for the couple. Once they understood this, the urgency to get a deal done subsided.

Make Concessions

Bob and Linda weren’t willing to give an inch on anything. Even the most tedious detail was contested with the same vigor as the central, material items of the deal. They weren’t focused on the critical objectives they wanted to achieve, they only wanted to cause as much frustration and trouble as they felt like they’d been subjected to. We had to have a talk about making small concessions that didn’t matter to their overall goals. The idea of absolute victory was poisoning their chance of making the clean break they wanted. Eventually things softened, and what Bob and Linda considered small concessions ended up mattering more to the parent company than we’d anticipated. It opened the door for our more critical objectives.

Be Open to Renegotiating

Bob and Linda were unequivocal on the point of getting out of their agreement. Renegotiating was off the table, but things might have gone differently for them if they hadn’t immediately written off the possibility of renegotiating. The reality of their situation was that Bob and Linda had the leverage. The initial terms were somewhat vague, but it wouldn’t have taken an expert litigator to argue that the parent company was in breach. The couple could have created great value for themselves in renegotiations while getting more definite terms that served what they wanted out of the relationship. Unfortunately for Bob and Linda, the damage had been done, but if there’s anything to be salvaged from a business relationship, stay open to renegotiating terms.

The truth is, a deal is never dead. Authentic Negotiating isn’t about letting deals die, but recognizing that the present terms don’t serve your objectives. Clarity and detachment give the Authentic Negotiator the freedom to bring deals back from the brink because there’s no uncertainty about what you want. With that clarity, you can always find a way to the right deal. It’s up to your counterpart to do their part after that. Being comfortable when deals seem to be spiraling isn’t easy though. You need to be confident. You need to be an Authentic Negotiator. Are you on your way? Take my Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz to find out.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker with more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. He is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the Fueling Deals Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

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Authentic Conversations About Difference Authentic Negotiating

How to Negotiate Across Cultures

Cultural barriers shouldn’t cause negotiations to stall out.
Karen was assigned to a team that had to negotiate a sizable deal with a Japanese company. As a young associate, she was eager to help her firm, achieve their objectives, and hopefully sustain a lasting relationship with an international partner.

She had done her preparation and then some. Karen knew the ins and outs of this company, knew the decision makers, had a good grasp of what the Japanese were trying to achieve, and how the two parties could come together on a mutually beneficial agreement.

When the Japanese arrived, Karen was feeling confident and ready to negotiate. Pleasantries were exchanged, and one of the important members of the Japanese team handed Karen his business card.

She glanced at it briefly, acknowledging the exchange, then slid it into her pocket as she’d done hundreds of times before. People were always giving Karen their business cards. She had a pile of them on a neglected end table in her apartment. She expected this card to join them there once she got home.

Karen had made a fatal mistake.
In Japanese culture, the way you accept a person’s business card is a very different ritual. You receive it with both hands and hold it in front of you. You read it. You look at the person and acknowledge that they have given it to you. Then you put it down on the conference table in front of you.

If you don’t follow this protocol, the Japanese consider it an insult. In all of her in-depth preparation, Karen had neglected to research cultural customs, and it was threatening to derail their negotiations before the parties had even sat down.

What can you do to avoid Karen’s snafu and keep cultural differences from stalling your negotiations?

Do Your Research.

There’s a ton of great work on this topic, especially in an increasingly globalized economy. Whichever society you are working with, there are certain touch points that you’ll want to keep in mind. This video from the Harvard Business Review is a good example of an easily digestible summary of how to approach deals with certain cultures.

Hold the Right Context.

For the most part, your context entering these negotiations should be one that seeks understanding. While there are certain cultures that will have a lot of overlap with yours, many others will have significant departures and it’s in the interest of both parties to approach the first meeting with a context of building a relationship rather than hammering out a deal.

Focus on Body Language and Tonality.

This is especially key if there is a language barrier of any kind. When significant cultural differences are in play, words aren’t always the most reliable form of communication. Certain words can imply different meanings depending upon the culture, which can result in crossed wires and botched negotiations. Body language and tone are harder to misinterpret. Fidgeting is a human response with no cultural origin. A stern or anxious tone is identifiable in any language, and it means the same thing in Japan as it would in America.

Be Patient and Open.

Negotiating across cultures can be a real challenge, and if your approach is to make the most expedient deal possible, you’re going to get frustrated. It’s important to avoid jumping to conclusions. I discuss in my book that something like the use of the quivering quill—a manipulative tactic in American negotiating—could be a cultural norm for someone else. In that case, you need to remain connected to your CDE—Clarity, Detachment, and Equilibrium—and not get triggered just because your counterpart is acting naturally. Be patient and remain open to the possibility that the behaviors that are tripping you up aren’t manipulative, just a cultural difference that can be overcome through understanding.

Have an Authentic Conversation About Differences.

If you seem to be hitting wall after wall, drop all pretext and sit down with the other side’s decision maker for an authentic conversation about the differences that are stalling talks. It might be tough at first, but these conversations can be rewarding and help get your deal back on track. I’ve laid out the ideal approach to these kinds of conversations in a previous blog, “Negotiating Our Differences.” Instead of letting these differences inflame frustrations and harm future relationships, an authentic conversation about your differences invites understanding and strengthens this relationship for future deals.

A high cultural IQ is critical for authentic negotiating success. Ignoring culture and forcing your own tactics is an inauthentic approach guaranteed to fail. There’s no easy way to reach understanding, but the authentic negotiator doesn’t let cultural differences threaten their objectives. Instead, they seek cultural information and understanding that can help them achieve those objectives. It’s a lot of external prep and inner-work, but I can tell you it pays off. How close are you to being an authentic negotiator? Take my quiz.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker with more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. He is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the Fueling Deals Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!