Intricacies of negotiating


More than half of all financial transactions and deals on bilateral projects between the South Korean and Russian businessmen get to be indefinitely postponed right at the initial stage of negotiations. What is the problem? Why are these successful parties more comfortable and apparently better off working separately, when they could have teamed up and started working together?


In the history of all countries, since antiquity, there were people who could find peaceful solutions to a particular issue . They were known as diplomats, precisely because they maintained the truce between different groups of people. As Winston Churchill once said: “Diplomacy is thinking twice before saying nothing”.


And to this day these individuals have a considerable weight and occupy a respected position within the business community. These negotiators (or communicators ) know quite a lot about both sides wanting to negotiate, because their reward depends entirely on the outcome of negotiations. Specialists like that make sure to be armed with as much information as possible about the parties engaged in discussion and use their theoretical and practical knowledge for the benefit of the client they represent. Some of their skills include, but are not limited to observation and analysis based on such areas of expertise as psychology, linguistics, physiognomy. Forecasting the success of the proposed initiatives and deals are also based on the review of everything which falls under a term “congruence”. Much attention is given to the adherence to the proper etiquette and business protocol. Needless to say that the use of the most advanced neuro-linguistic studies in psychology in preparation of presentations and speeches, basic acting techniques and kinetic communication fashioned in accordance with idea of private space and body language helps to make the best impression and persuade the negotiating partner.


How to tell if you have chosen the best possible negotiator?


The success of the future deal depends entirely on how thoroughly you have prepared. You could get an idea about the extent of professionalism of a negotiator by reviewing their CV and the list of the successful deals they managed to close. Letters of recommendation could also tell you much about the particular strengths of the negotiator in question. You could also learn much in a face=to-face interview. Your aim is to get well acquainted with this person and be reassured that they understand what is good for your business. These are some of the most typical questions you might ask the negotiator you are considering to hire: Ask them if they are familiar with "psychological aikido" and self-defense techniques of communicative aggression? And if they can provide an example of such a situation. Find out if they are familiar with the John Grinder communication techniques for NASA astronauts and SWAT and which of these if any do they favor.


As Candice Perth said: "We need to take responsibility for what we feel. The notion that our mood depends on other people’s actions is false."


The special aspects of mentality


What if you have managed to find such a specialist, a real expert negotiator, but the parties still unable to reach an agreement? What could possibly be wrong with that brilliantly educated professional that you hired?


The answer is simple: they might not possess the thorough knowledge of your desired business partner’s (Korean) homeland, it’s history, culture and mentality.


Here is what some of the different scholarly sources have to say on a matter of mentality: "The mentality – or the mindset in modern English (derived from French “mentalite”, earlier from late latin “mentalis”- means “mental “) it is a way of thinking, a worldview, a spiritual attunement inherent to the individual or group. M. notion was confirmed in the intellectual life of the West as an amendment to the twentieth century’s enlightenment movement that identified consciousness with the mind. In the Russian philosophy, culture and journalism, the term “mentality” was generally used to characterize the national peculiarities of the specific people, their cultural characteristics. For example, the common features of the Russian mentality in literature were spirituality, collectivism (collegiality) and empathy. M. of a particular culture is made up and rooted deep in historical and traditional background, the social norms of behavior observed in many generations of people. It combines different traits of historical periods in the development of the national and ethnic cultures." (A.I. Kravchenko. Culturology, Academic Project, 2000 . pp.343 -343)


" Mentality” – is a worldview and the attitude towards life based on people's national customs, way of life, social mindset and morality" Collegiate Dictionary by T.F. Efremova.


We could find a detailed description of the South Korean mentality in the article by Magbat Spanov, president of the Institute of Development of Kazakhstan. " ... Then the South Korean model was chosen, where there are about 35 financial industrial groups prevailing in the economy and the core of which are the banks. However we were only able to integrate and amplify the banks. This is largely due to the fact that the mentality of the South Koreans and Kazakhs is different in their attitude towards homeland. South Korean bankers that support and move the industry forward have no habit of enriching themselves at any cost the way the Kazakh colleagues unfortunately do". ( October 17, 2009 , Source: website of the newspaper "Liter" )


This is just a fraction of a huge number of sources, but it becomes clear that for the success of your enterprise you need to respect the mentality of future business partner and thoroughly understand their cultural.


How to explore South Korea without leaving Moscow?


Many negotiators believe that it is really necessary to experience the culture of a specific country firsthand to get better prepared and it is true. Some of us are inclined to think that it is not enough to learn the history and customs of a foreign country just by reading books and watching film. However we live in a society where we have no spare time for an in depth study like that and unfortunately, businessmen have even less time for such travels. Here a few ideas that you could consider though: if you are interested in business relations with South Korea and want to know more about the culture, you could always visit the restaurants with the Korean national cuisine. Places like “The White Craine” restaurant located on the first floor of the Korston hotel, the place called “Bo” on Sretenky Boulevard would be a good starting point if you want to familiarize yourself with the country’s cuisine. I would strongly advise you to visit the Culture center of the South Korean embassy as they have a superb program of exhibitions and events that educate visitors about their culture. Please note the contemporary Korean cinema festivals that happen in Moscow at least three times a year. The " 35 mm "cinema sells tickets for these festival films and you can always look for more information online. Finally you could always visit language courses, and be surprised to find out that some of them are free.


In addition, there are many organizations working to help businessmen meet each other. There are all sorts of conferences and business dialogues. You won’t regret visiting such an event on your own, rather than sending your assistants as it would be a perfect opportunity to see how the companies that interest you interact with other businesses.

You don’t have to sit through the whole event either, as you could make up your mind on what interests you most – the presentations of different companies or the fourchette where everyone interacts freely in a much more relaxed and sociable manner.


Political protocol


Each country has a representative office in Russia, located in Moscow. These official offices are the embassies. If you are looking for people who know the culture of a particular country, there is no better person than an embassy. Just be realistic and don’t expect them to become your future business companions. It is not all that complicated to be invited for an appointment at the embassy. Your business could always offer sponsorship of the numerous activities organized by the cultural center. Even though the events don’t necessarily require big budgets, the embassies don’t always have enough money of their own. Thus, you could become a welcome guest at various events that will give you the opportunity to see the modern culture of the country you are interested in and meet a lot of interesting people. More likely you will be invited as a sponsor again and again.


Pitfalls partnership


Lets consider few scenarios of cooperation between the Russian and the South Korean business partners.


Let’s say we have two well established and reputable companies within their Russian and South Korean market, that have reached an agreement of mutual interest to work together for a duration of one year on a trial basis. Both partners displayed an intent of a long-term cooperation. Both companies have successfully met their part of the deal according the exclusive contract. Both parties to fulfill terms of the contract , for the time being . Russia has invested more than 300 thousand dollars in marketing and advertising. The Korean company got well accustomed to working in Russia and realized its unique value in this market. However when the business year came to an end, and it was necessary to renew the contract, the Korean side hesitated.


It came as a big surprise to the Russian company when the next delivery was sabotaged causing a noticeable damage to the reputation of the Russian firm in the market. There wasn’t any indication or warning, yet the contract was not renewed. But the real blow to the reputation of the company was to find out that the Korean company managed to nearly complete the construction of a new manufacture in Russia without informing their Russian partners. The Russian company lost its reputation, that took years to attain, and lost more than 300 thousand dollars.


This example isn’t aimed to imply that there no South Korean companies that do play fair. Not at all. There are examples of a very strong and mutually beneficial cooperation between Russian and Korean businesses.


Possible and this type of South Korean "partnership". When representatives of the South Korean side in talks with a view to informing and only informing. Asked to provide a comprehensive list of potential partners and marketing research on the Russian market and disappear. And then oops and a gift: the contract directly, without intermediaries, speech is not even talking about exclusives.


Russian business representatives have to realize that there are some differences in business practices of different countries. Sometimes the South Korean representatives and negotiators hold meetings with their partners just for soliciting information. There was also a case of "friendship" between the Korean official and the Russian businessman which has ended in a fiasco that I can recall. Basically all it comes to is that in some cultures it is an accepted norm to be friends when it is convenient and businessmen when it comes to money and business interests.


In conclusion, I’d like to add that a careful review of such things as individual’s food and beverage preferences, how they structure their sentences and what they say in general, more so their reaction to provocation ( I am convinced that it is an integral part of any negotiations) yields extremely important information that you can use in negotiations. If you are a good observer or have the proper support of a trained professional you are much more likely to develop business relationships that are reliable, mutually beneficial and long-lasting.


Good luck to you with your business!