Negotiation Tips for Success in America (Terry Hird Interview)

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I’m delighted to present this exclusive interview with Terry Hird, founder of Negotiation- International, a

San Francisco based negotiation training and consultancy company.

With over three decades of international business and negotiation under his belt, Terry was recently featured in the San Francisco Examiner. As a business owner, business consultant and educator, Terry has within the last year worked with some of the biggest names in America including Google, Genentech, Wells Fargo, InterMune, The Port of Oakland, Lawrence Livermore Nuclear Lab, Waggener-Edstrom, and Bayer Healthcare.

Selected as a UC Berkeley Extension Honored Instructor, Terry teaches programs including business negotiation, entrepreneurship and international business strategy. His business experience, training and consultancy have taken him to over fifty countries around the world. In this exclusive interview, Terry shares some of his insights into successful negotiation with Americans in America:

TerryHird11. Why is negotiation such an important skill to have to be successful in America?

Because opportunity does not knock! You have to ask for what you want. And, how you ask for it will, to a high degree, determine whether or not you are successful.

You are going to find yourself in negotiations with people you like and people you do not like. They may like you or not. You will find yourself in situation where they have power and/or authority over you. You have to learn how to influence people. Negotiating is the tool to manage differences and achieve positive outcomes. If you are good at it your employer will recognize your skills. That translates into salary increases and promotions.

2. What is so unique about the American negotiation style?

Americans tend to be very direct and value individuality more than many other cultures. They think sequentially and think in a “this leads to this, leads to this, leads to this” process. Certainly most Americans have an aversion to negotiation, considering it almost arguing. Americans’ mantra might be, “Time is money.” This leads, again, to directness, fast proposals, and a sort of what I have heard foreigners call a “cowboy” go-it-alone approach. Americans are viewed as aggressive and impatient. Americans want a deal and to dispose of it. For them, the deal ends the process. For most cultures, the agreement starts the relationship.

3. What role has successful negotiation played in your life?

As my skill at it has improved I have achieved better outcomes. I find that less often now I am fixing something that I broke. Getting it right the first time takes work. It takes time. But, I don’t have to constantly repair it. Believe it or not, the additional time I spend negotiating usually results in me having more free time down the road.

4. Can you give us some of your top negotiation tips?

  • Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.
  • Be willing to walk away.
  • Don’t claim value, create it.
  • Rationality and fairness are relative.
  • Continue to learn from the experience.

5. Tell us how you prepare for negotiation. If I about to walk in to my boss office and I want to ask for a raise, what do I need to prepare before our salary negotiation?

  • Network
  • Gather factual supporting data
  • Make sure you are talking to the person with the authority to discuss your compensation
  • Know your alternatives and be prepared to walk
  • Understand their and your deadlines
  • Know your strengths and weakness
  • Ask questions and ascertain how you can enhance their agenda
  • If the answer is “no” you need to propose a solution with specific goals and timelines and then meet and exceed them

6. What negotiation advice would you give someone who is new to the American business world and negotiation style?

You have to be who you are. Negotiation is, however, a learnable skill. You can read a lot of books about it but there is no substitute for doing it. So, I guess first and foremost I would urge someone to take training. Get out there and do it. Make your mistakes in a safe and supportive training program. Get into an environment where there will be Americans with whom to negotiate. You have to “get out” of your cultural circle of friends and business associates and mix it up.

7. What other negotiation ideas or advice would you like to share with’s readers?

The only reason to negotiate with someone is because you need them. And, they need you or they would not be sitting across from you. Focus on maximizing your gains but stop short of making them worse off. Focus on creating value for both parties. Things are not going to always be 50-50. But, you need to build on both party’s interests. I’m not saying that you should wimp out. Don’t focus on compromise so much as on finding ways to collaborate!

Finally, learn to listen. But, listen to understand and not to rebut. One of the most important things you can say sometimes is nothing. Listen.

I want to thank Terry for sharing his negotiation insight with us. You can find out more about Terry Hird and his company .

P.S. Terry will be conducting a training program for immigrant professionals this coming month. To find out more, click .

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