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Always giving

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Negotiation touches every part of our lives. Relationships in business and in our personal lives are negotiated. And the skills to do it effectively can often mean the difference between getting what you want or losing out. You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate!

In the first section of the book, How to be a Great Negotiator, written by property economist, investor and developer Neville Berkowitz, the characteristic traits of a great negotiator are explored in short, bite-sized nuggets of advice.

Over the next 132 days, we will bring you the traits needed to succeed at the art of negotiating.

(Courtesy of PersonalEmpowerment.co)

51 Giving/receiving

The ideal objective in a negotiation is for two parties to reach a mutually satisfactory outcome. But the primary objective of poor negotiators is to get what they want, how ever they can, with little or no regard for the other party. This is the approach that has given certain business people and some lawyers a bad name.

A great negotiator knows that getting what he or she wants is only half the task. And also knows that the means by which the objective is achieved is as important as the objective itself. A great negotiator knows that having both parties get enough of what they want to walk away satisfied is the hallmark of a successful negotiation. A great negotiator also knows that a successful negotiation starts with, and depends upon, giving attention, consideration, respect, cooperation, value and service.

Poor negotiators try to get what they can from the other party while giving as little as possible to them. They fail to understand, or refuse to believe, that ethical and even spiritual principles do matter in the world of business, and that a spirit of giving inspires gratitude and loyalty in others. They don’t realise that now or later, people see through pretense, and that selfish attitudes, motives and actions speak louder than insincere friendly words, smiles, and gestures. They don’t understand that when the spirit of greed and self-centeredness replaces a spirit of giving and service, the foundation of mutual trust and respect upon which a successful negotiation depends has been fatally compromised.

Great negotiators understand these things, and they negotiate within this larger framework. They never try to squeeze the last cent from a deal, but always leave the other party thinking that they got a good deal as well. But great negotiators are not fools who “give away the store”. They are shrewd, sensible, ethical participants who look to see what they can reasonably give the other party without adversely affecting their own position. They know that by giving attention, respect, and value on principle in the above ways, they will receive more over time than if they focus solely on what they can get.

This “spirit of giving” can be expressed in the most simple, practical ways. A simple sincere e-mail or handwritten card expressing appreciation or gratitude can carry considerable weight. And there is also the giving of tangible token gifts. A token gift is typically given prior to a negotiation. But, in doing so, it’s important to avoid the appearance of a bribe. If you want to give a token gift, be sure to do it during the introductions, before the negotiation starts. Giving a gift during a negotiation is bad form. It will appear clumsy at best and, at worst, as a crude attempt to influence, bribe, or buy favour.

You want any gift you give to feel genuine, but not too personal. (Perfume, jewellery, or articles of clothing are generally not a good idea, unless you have a close relationship with the other party.) You also want to give a quality gift, but not something too extravagant that will seem like a bribe. (Unless of course it is a bribe, which in some situations and cultures may be acceptable or even expected!) It helps to have a sense of the person you’re gifting. If he or she is the intellectual type, you may give a book you think the person will appreciate, with a friendly inscription. If his or her taste runs to fine liquor, cigars, or sweets, you can give a gift that satisfies that particular taste. If you have an intuition of an appropriate gift, you can probably trust it. In almost all such cases, the gesture is appreciated.

While a token gift shouldn’t be extravagant, a celebratory gift given after the conclusion of a successful negotiation can be. The extravagance of a celebratory gift depends on the scale of the successful negotiation. If the outcome of the negotiation is meaningful, but not extraordinary in monetary terms, you can give a pricier version of a token gift. In cases where millions of dollars have been made, you can be more extravagant in your giving. Such a gift might include a collectible painting or sculpture, a rare book, a very expensive bottle of whiskey, wine, or other liquor, or any other gift that feels appropriate. Such a gift, hand-delivered and suitably inscribed, will carry much weight in future dealings and make a business ally out of a business associate. Having established a connection with the other party, sending a birthday present with a note is also appreciated. It also creates a sense of gratitude and reciprocity in the other party that will incline them to go the extra mile for you the next time you need their assistance. There is so much personal information on the Internet that it is often possible to find out the other party’s date of birth. People are used to being “googled” today, so it won’t be misconstrued as stalking.

Doing favours, or going the extra mile to be of service, are forms of giving that also create the same sense of gratitude and reciprocity. Some favours may never be overtly repaid, but they will sweeten the connection. Some favours may be repaid much later, but no worries: Gratitude and reciprocity have no expiration date. Correctly done, gifts, favours, and other gestures of generosity create powerful future IOUs that can be called upon when the time is right. But keep in mind that generosity, or the spirit of giving, is simply a good business practice and a classy character trait. If you live this in practice, you will be building up a bank of goodwill that will work in your favour over time. Long before you have to concede something in a negotiation to the other party, you have to have been giving, developing a bond of trust and goodwill, personalising a cooperative relationship between you and the other party.

When you recognise giving and receiving as two sides of the same coin, and you understand that successful negotiations depend on mutual reciprocity, or fair exchange of value, then you will become creative and judicious in your giving on principle, and you will reap the benefits of receiving over time. Your giving will be the action that produces reciprocity in the other party. This is how giving leads to receiving in negotiations and in life.


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