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chinese negotiating technique

Chinese Negotiating Styles – Avoiders. A Casual Friday Video

We continue with our Chinese Negotiating Styles series by taking a look at a common Chinese negotiating type — the Avoiders. Westerners doing business in China — or negotiating with Chinese counterparties in home markets — have to get used to avoiding behaviors and tactics. Americans tend to view avoiders as weak or ineffective negotiators — but Chinese businessmen are adept at using avoidance to win concessions.
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Negotiating in China: Secrets of Success, Part II

Last week we talked about the perils and pitfalls of SUCCESFUL negotiations in China. One of the first rules of doing business in China is that a signed contract is a starting gun, not a finish-line flag. In China, negotiations don’t really get started in earnest until after the signatures are on the dotted line.

But reaching the signing ceremony is getting tougher and tougher. Chinese deals almost always involve an element of policy, and China’s bureaucracy requires that international negotiators adopt a new set of rules.

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What Is the Hardest Part of Doing Business in China?

“Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.” Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” Spring and Autumn Period

“What the hell is this? That isn’t what I ordered.”
Herb Feldstein, Feldstein Fixtures and Lighting. Paramus NJ

I ran a pair of surveys on Linkedin recently. One survey appeared on a set of Linkedin business groups with NO specific geographic orientation and asked, “What is the most difficult aspect of doing business?” I broke down the deal process into 5 phases –

    1) Finding appropriate counter-parties
    2) Clarifying deal terms
    3) Finalizing the deal – signing the contract
    4) Executing the agreement / doing the actual business
    5) Post-deal compliance, Quality Control

I ran another survey with the same answer choices, but which phrased the question slightly differently – and targeted China-oriented business groups. This time the question was: “What is the most difficult aspect of doing business IN CHINA?”

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Chinese Negotiators Talk Win-Win but Walk Win-Lose

Negotiation in China – Orientation vs. Tactics

Two cross currents in Chinese negotiation tend to confuse western negotiators – even those who have been around for a long time.

Chinese negotiators seem very polite and cordial to westerners – even to the point of being obsequious at times.  They really seem interested in learning about you and your business and household life.  They will bend over backward to try to accommodate you. 
But the moment negotiations start things may suddenly turn hostile, surly and competitive.  They can become be insulting and belittling and thoroughly unpleasant.

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Chinese negotiating tactics: Hide the Bride

American weddings have a charming custom of not letting the intended groom see the bride until the ceremony is well under way.  Chinese negotiators have a similar custom – though it’s a good deal less charming.  In many companies, the real decision-maker never takes part in the actual face-to-face negotiation.  Instead you deal with a subordinate – who may have a great title and seem to be in a position of authority.  But he doesn’t have the power to say YES — only NO.  Someone behind the scenes is calling all the shots, and the person sitting across from you is just following instructions.  He will seem to have a lot of authority when he is trying to get you to make concessions, but every time you ask him to reciprocate he tells you that the company has a policy against this.

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