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This is the second part of Blog

The Sunloungers at the Beach of Rimini – 1020

Negotiation is the fundamental form of dispute resolution directly between parties. In simplest terms, it involves an interest driven discussion between two or more disputants who are trying to work out a solution to their dispute. Often negotiations may be done in advance, to avoid later disputes. We are negotiating when family members discuss their responsibilities for the preparation of a barbeque party; when we discuss with our husband or wife where to go to have a nice dinner or when a couple discusses which TV-channel should be watched. When we bargain over the price of a product or service, we are negotiating. In order to live or work effectively with others, good negotiation skills are critical.

On the beach of Rimini the rental guy with the red hat is still talking to the pale and the dark guy on the subject of sunlounger. There are different resolutions of this dispute. If the new guy stays for a couple of days while the tanned is in Rimini on his day of departure, it makes sense to give sunlounger to the white guy. He will be good paying customer for the coming days. If the tanned guy is a regular customer every year and the pale new then maintaining the existing customer relationship might be the right choice. However in either decision by the red hat the lounger will be rented to only one of the customers. The red had needs to make decisions how to distribute the right to use the lounger to either of the two interested customers.

But the red hat is a smart listener. He finds out, tanned and white guy want to have this particular sun lounger. It is an observation lounger with an excellent view to the bar. Red hat is clever. He suggests to move the five loungers closer to each other and put a sixth sunlounger with exact the same observation qualities next to the row. The additional lounger is a clever idea, making everybody very happy: the tanned and the white guy are able to spot the girls on the bar and red hat does not lose any customer and makes his money.

We can name the dimension of any negotiation. It is first the interest of the parties involved. It is second the substance the real issues on stake. In the Rimini examples it is the sunlounger. It is then relationship of the parties. Since it always takes more than parties to negotiate. The fourth dimension is the process of the negotiation. The process may be planned or may evolve as the dynamics of communication.

In simplest terms, negotiation is a discussion between two or more disputants who are trying to work out a solution to their problem. This interpersonal or inter-group process can occur at a personal level, as well as at a corporate or international (diplomatic) level. Negotiations typically take place because the parties wish to create something new that neither could do on his or her own, or to resolve a problem or dispute between them. The parties acknowledge that there is some conflict of interest between them and think they can use some form of influence to get a better deal, rather than simply taking what the other side will voluntarily give them. They prefer to search for agreement rather than fight openly, give in, or break off contact.

When parties negotiate, they usually expect give and take. While they have interlocking goals that they cannot carry out independently, they usually do not want or need exactly the same thing. This interdependence can be either win-lose or win-win in nature, and the type of negotiation that is appropriate will vary accordingly. The disputants will either attempt to force the other side to comply with their demands, to modify the opposing position and move toward compromise, or to invent a solution that meets the objectives of all sides. The nature of their interdependence will have a major impact on the nature of their relationship, the way negotiations are conducted, and the outcomes of these negotiations.

The dispute between the tanned and the white guy on the beach was a form to find out, who would get the sunlounger. In this approach there is one winner and one looser. The tanned and the white guy had exactly the same position. Each of them claimed the he was entitled to be on the sunlounger. This approach we will call the distributive approach or bargaining.

The solution of the red hat was clever and served both disputants interest. They entered in to an agreement both being a winner. This approach we shall call integrative approach or just negotiation. Settling disputes can take two principal forms: bargaining or negotiating alternatively called the distributive and integrative approach.


Talking about the nature of negotiations many people think in terms of rhetoric’s in direct exchange of reasoning. This direct face to face negotiation is an extreme form of communication. The dividing line between the communication and negotiation is very thin and hard to draw.

I became a witness of a discussion of two tourists on a bar on the beach of Rimini. The topic was rather casual and a kind of small talk. They exchanged their views and ideas of the best sun loungers to occupy on the beach. One of them said he prefers to have them at rather remote place with some trees nearby. Especially after a hard night partying so he could recharge during the day. The other was also concerned about is nights, but wanted to meet some lady friends during the day, he would then propose to have dinner and enjoy the night with. He preferred the sunloungers near the bar, so he could have an eye on the female guests of the bar and move towards them if he thought he could connect with one of them. He called a row of five sunloungers the best “observation lounger”.

This is a form of a casual conversation just to exchange opinions and not really a negotiation.

The next day I observed from the very same spot two men having a rather loud exchange of words on the side of the row observation loungers. One of them was pale and his white body showing he had not been exposed to the sun. The other was well tanned and dark. It seemed to be an argument between a new comer and a habitué of the beach. Obviously they were disputing over occupying the last left lounger. This was not a casual talk but communication directed to pursue an interest. Each of them claimed to have the right to occupy the lounger. Since words alone did not help they started to posture their physical capabilities to impress each other. As the voices became louder the guy renting the sun loungers moved quickly towards them. He was not to be missed with a red hat and dressed all white with a big black purse hanging in front his six-pack. He immediately took command of the communication and spoke to each of the disputants separately. First he interrogated the dark guy and listened carefully, insisting that he was not interrupted by the white guy standing on the side and intervening vividly. He then turned to the new guy on the beach and elaborated his version and view of the situation.

This dispute on a particular lounger on the beach by the dark and the white guy is not a small talk. In this situation the interest to occupy this particular observation lounger is the driving force of communication which in fact is a negotiation. Interests do not need to be rational. Very often it happens to be the case that people do start disputes not because of the item under discussion, but rather out of personal emotional reasons. They are subconsciously driven to give another person of random choice a hard time. There are many reasons for this. May be in the case of an incidence in the morning on the hotel table or even the night before. But the two guys verbally contesting the rights seemed to have rather clear reasons.

Now the rental guy with the purse is not actually negotiating just for himself but brokering a settlement between the two men. This is the work of a mediator.

Negotiation is adding the dimension of orientation towards some kind of interest to the mere form of communication. Negotiation is therefore always interest based, even though the interest may be conscious or subconscious reaction of person.

Pareto is a great Italian and why YOU could do better in negotiations!

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule, the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor scarcity) states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Business management thinker Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population; he developed the principle by observing that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas. It is a common rule of thumb in business; e.g., „80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients.

Kurt Rohner, a master negotiator for almost two decades, transfers and applies the Pareto principle to negotiations. The first question is: “How much time do you need to invest to the gain know-how of negotiations, to multiply your own capability of negotiating by at least four times?”

The fundamental knowledge is to understand the nature of negotiations with the 4D-Model. Any negotiation, in business, in private life, in conflicts of any kind or even in court proceedings is tied to four dimensions. The first and root dimension is the interest of the involved parties. Parties may be single people, companies or organizations such as unions, political parties or states. Only the overlap of interest between parties defines a common ground as a prerequisite for any negotiation. The common interests define the substance, the content of negotiations as the second dimension in negotiation. Since there are always two or more parties involved the relationship between the parties define the third dimension of any negotiation. The fourth dimension is the process of the negotiation to obtain an agreement.

Understanding the 4D-Model of interest, substance, relationship and the process will give any negotiator a simple map to navigate any kind of negotiation.

In his speech Kurt Rohner will present the 4D model as a base for understanding how to achieve better results in negotiations.

In the substance dimension there are two fundamentally different approaches to reach agreement. The most common and widely ingrained style is the bargaining. Some people call it the bazaar-method to divide one point in discussion. In the orient this method is cultivated to reach agreement on prices on goods traded. This distributive approach in negotiations is a good and efficient method if one single item is under discussion. However in the complex world of today many negotiations embrace several points to negotiate. Having multiple issues to negotiate this method does not produce satisfactory results to any party.

A complete different approach any business person to be familiar with, is the integrative method. Often this method is referred to as the Harvard-Principle. Kurt Rohner will demonstrate and explain the integrative method in an easy to understand and fast to apply method. It is the story of four women haggling for two eggs.

If you are ready to invest two hours to the presentation of Kurt Rohner in the event of Performance Strategies in Bologna you will have return equal to the Pareto principle. Immediately you will achieve better results in your negotiations.

Get in touch with me and you shall receive the details.


Negotiations do not happen by chance. To negotiate or not to negotiate is a rational decision. There are some conditions in which you should not enter into bargaining or negotiations.

You have no interest

If you have no interest to negotiate, then do not negotiate. Since there are no incentives to negotiate a better condition as you are currently experiencing. Typical situations in businesses are, your goods are on high demand or you operate on the full capacity for your services. In such situation there is no reason to discuss price reduction and you might think of increasing your prices.

You have no interest but are pushed to negotiation by force

Hostile takeovers in the corporate world are a typical example for such a situation. In hostile bid a hostile party tries to buy the shares of a company to become the new owner and to influence the destiny of the company. Often member of the boards are taken by surprise. Before you start with a hostile party you should build up an alternative. The solution in the corporate world is called  a white knight. Only if you have found a per-arrangement with an alternative buyer, you should start negotiating with the hostile party. Time is of essence in such situations.

If you are not prepared

Do not jump in to negotiation without good preparation. The most common mistake I observe in the business world is insufficient preparation before entering the negotiations process. If you have not prepared yourself then delay the meeting to prepare sufficiently in advance.

If you have no alternative

Negotiating without an alternative is putting you in a weak situation. This is a general rule. To negotiate strategically is to create and pursue alternatives. Beside a good preparation for the negotiation creating alternatives is most important task to satisfy your interest. I have this observed very often: The limitation is not the other party or the circumstances, but our own horizon. Many times I have asked whet alternatives are at hand and always got the same reply: “There is no alternative!” I almost all the cases it proofed to be wrong. The simplest most powerful move in any negotiation is to have equally attractive alternatives to satisfy an interest.

If the clock is running against you

Not having sufficient time to prepare is one reason not to jump into negotiations. Having time pressure from the other party is never a reason to bow to the command of time.

If time is running for you

Negotiate to sell with falling prices in to the future; you should delay negotiations just before the point of reversal is reached. You will try to close the deal before the prices start to go up again. These cycles are known in almost all markets. An example is the market for properties.

If you lose out big

If the only possible outcome may be you losing everything, it is not very wise to negotiate. Seek an other alternative to solve the problem or circumstances you are in.

Travelling for business to many places I feel my cultural activities fall short. But that’s only because of the awareness what I miss in my home town. I discovered many years ago that it is not really necessary to starve of culture. Cultural events take place all over the world and while travelling I started to like the adventures of the culture abroad in the Bolshoi, the Concertgebouw, Carnegie Hall, La Scala, the Bastille or any other place.

So whenever I am in a town somewhere in the world and there is an evening without duties I check out the programs for opera and concerts. If I am in command of the language I inform myself what is being played on stage. I want to know the exact time of the appearance and check with the concierge if it is possible to get tickets in the public sale. If the performance is sold out, then you know it is a very good quality and worth while to attend. I plan the transport to be in front of the door about twenty minutes before start of the performance.

In my inner self I tell me, you are going to have a nice evening in the opera or if I do not get any tickets go and have a nice dinner. So I gauge myself not to be disappointed if there are no tickets.

Usually it is very easy to find tickets in the area front of the evening box office. There are two kinds of sellers: the private people who can not attend the opera or the show, because of some misfortune and they try to get some money back from what they have spend for the evening. Often these are tickets of lower quality, because people who can pay really high prices they also do not care so much, if they can not attend the show. If I am satisfied with the ticket usually I ask to know the official price. “Well” I usually reply “I only planned to spend so and so much!” which is about half of the price. Most often you I get the ticket for the amount suggested. These people are afraid they will not get any money at all, so they take the cut in price.

The more interesting kind of negotiation is with the professional people. They usually get some quantities of tickets to sell above the official box office price.

They start their sales in the afternoon or about 1 to 2 hours before the performance. In Verona for example you can find them in the square before the arena already by lunch time. They very often cooperate with the concierges in hotels. The concierge then will tell you at his desk, the performance is sold out, but that he has some special connections to get tickets, but they are more expensive.

Often the professional dealers are 15 minutes before the start sitting on their last investments. If they are very shrewd they will still ask a price higher than printed on the ticket.  It is really the timing of the negotiations, because with every minute before the curtain goes up the probability that they may sell the ticket is becoming slimmer.

I just tell them that I do have only so much cash with me, because I am used to pay everything with the credit card. And that I am sorry not to be able to pay their requested price. I fake the walk away with some steps and prepare the exact amount of money, so I have it ready and I do not need to count the money in front of them. Then I just wait and see. Once it is more or less 5 or 3 minutes before the start they come an offer you the tickets on the price suggested by you. I take the ticket and literally run into the place to take the seat just before the performance starts. If your seat is in the middle of a long row you may inconvenience many people. I usually do that by apologising in my home tongue, so they understand I am a foreigner, which makes the case a little bit less drastic.

In the many years I have hardly ever stayed outside and most often I paid less than the official price. On top I spend my self a nice dinner anyway, since it was mostly a nice performance for good cash.

One hint from an insider: if you have a choice always select the ticket for the private box front seats, they are the best in this last minute venture. You are able to sneak in even, when the performance has started.

Nur wenige Köche zaubern aus vorhandenen Zutaten spontan ein festliches Menü. Solches gelingt nur den grossen Könnern. Für die Hausfrau, wie den Koch gilt: Vor dem Kochen wird das Rezept bestimmt. Ganz besonders, wenn das Essen wichtig ist. Eine neue Liebe durch den Magen verstärkt werden soll; sich die gestrengen Verwandten auf einen Pflichtbesuch aufgedrängt haben oder ein Fest ansteht, das seiner Einmaligkeit wegen ganz speziell zelebriert werden soll. Der Prozess, der Ablauf und die Zutaten zum Essen werden vorher sorgfältig bestimmt und abgewogen.

In Verhandlungssachen sind die meisten Menschen nicht derart sorgfältig. Nicht oft wird zu Beginn zwischen den Parteien der Prozess besprochen: Die Verhandlung verhandelt. Viele Verhandlungen dauern unnötig lange oder scheitern gar, weil der Prozess nicht vorab besprochen und von den Parteien gemeinsam festgelegt wurde. Die Zeit, welche sich Verhandlungsparteien zu Beginn nehmen, um sich über den Verhandlungsablauf zu einigen, sparen sie sich nachher ein Mehrfaches. Die Frage stellt sich: Welche Punkte sollen vorab, also vor der eigentlichen Verhandlung, geklärt werden?

Oft sind formale Verhandlungen eine fliessende Fortsetzung von Sondierungsgesprächen, welchen einen explorativen Charakter haben. In den Vorgesprächen haben sich gewisse vage Einigungspunkte herausgebildet, welche in formalen Verhandlungen vertieft zu formulieren sind. Die heissen Punkte werden bewusst vage gehalten, um zuerst Klarheit des Kontextes zu erhalten, bevor Konzessionen gemacht werden, um zu einer definitiven Einigung zu gelangen. Vorgespräche werden sehr oft auf der höchsten Ebene geführt und die Aushandlung einer Einigung an eine tiefere Stufe oder spezielle Gruppe delegiert. In dieser Situation sind die Personen am Verhandlungstisch zu benennen. Je nach Vertraulichkeit der Gespräche ist der Ort zu wählen. Oft ist ein neutraler Ort angezeigt, damit keine Partei einen Heimvorteil für sich beanspruchen kann. Daneben sind alle Punkte zur Delegation der Verhandlungsführung auf beiden Seiten zu regeln.

Früh zu Beginn jedes formalen Verhandlungsprozesses steht die Diskussion über die Vertragsgrundlage. Hier unterscheidet sich die kontinentaleuropäische von der angelsächsischen Ausgangslage. Im Gegensatz zu den Europäern, präsentieren die Angelsachsen praktisch nie einen Vertragsvorschlag – Standardgeschäfte ausgenommen. In den Verhandlungen zwischen den Parteien werden dort wesentlichen Punkte ausgehandelt, vielleicht noch die Heads of Agreement. Die Ausformulierung und Verhandlung des Vertrages wird in den USA immer den Juristen überlassen. Die (Kontinental-)Europäer legen oft einen Vertragsvorschlag vor. Besonders, wenn zwei Entwürfe vorliegen, entsteht die erste heftige Diskussion, welcher Entwurf als Grundlage dienen soll. Wie kann diese erste Hürde elegant genommen werden? Schliesslich ist mindestens eine (meist die schwächere) der beiden Parteien im klassischen Dilemma in der Substanz Konzessionen zu machen, um die Beziehung nicht zu gefährden oder möglicherweise zu verbessern.

Bei der Durchsicht der Struktur und des Aufbaus des Vertrages wird schnell klar, ob das Dokument sehr juristensichtig erstellt wurde. Erinnern wir uns, insbesondere bei Erfüllungstransaktionen, wie Projekte oder M&A-Situationen: Für die Parteien ist der Vertrag Ausgangsbasis für eine Realisierung, die Umsetzung des Verhandlungsergebnisses. Rechtslastige Verträge bedienen in ihrer Struktur nicht die operative Umsetzung, sondern gerichtsprozessualen Erfordernisse. Mit der Diskussion, wie eine Einigung umgesetzt werden würde, kann auch die Struktur eines ganz anders aufgebauten Vertrages argumentiert werden. Zudem wird den Parteien klarer und bewusster, dass die Gespräche nicht einem schnellen Deal dienen, sondern der Realisierung der Verhandlungseinigung. Aus dieser operativen Umsetzungsoptik machen Vertragskonzeptionen Sinn, welche in Teilen stufen- und bereichsgerecht delegiert werden können. Die Diskussion zum Design oder Architektur eines Vertragswerkes ist somit ein guter Einstieg, um die Vertragsredaktion zu übernehmen.

Bei den Angelsachsen muss neben dem Term-Sheet auch die Struktur des Vertrages diskutiert werden. Die Argumentation, was das Vertragsdesign anbetrifft, verläuft in etwa ähnlich, wie unter geschilderten europäischen Gesichtspunkten.

Die zweite konkrete Diskussion betrifft den Rhythmus der Verhandlungssitzungen und das Vorgehen, in welchen Schritten die Einigung zu Stande kommen soll. Hier stehen sich zwei Sichten gegenüber: „Lass uns die Knackpunkte vorab lösen – dann ergibt sich der Rest.“ versus „Die Fleissarbeit der generellen Punkte erledigen wir in wenig Zeit, dann setzen wir uns mit den Hauptpunkten auseinander.“ Beide Ansätze sind möglich. Sie signalisieren aber unterschiedliche Botschaften: „Wenn wir uns in den Hauptpunkten nicht einigen, so sind die Details nur Zeitverlust.“ oder „In Details lernen wir uns kennen, was uns in den schwierigen Punkten eine Eignung erleichtert. Wir sind an einer Einigung interessiert und investieren die Zeit.“

Die Planung der Termine kann zu Beginn erfolgen. Damit geben sich die Verhandlungsparteien einen Zeitplan und darin eingebunden eine Grobagenda.

Dies sind einige wenige Gedanken und Erfahrungen zu minimalen Übereinkünften, was den Prozess anbetrifft. Sie helfen Verhandlungen effizient zu gestalten. Der Verhandlungserfolg wird dadurch wahrscheinlicher, aber nicht garantiert. Ein Rezept wird schliesslich erst durch gekonntes Kochen zu einem guten Essen.

Gefühlsmässig waren die Pfingsten 2010 in der Schweiz das Ende eines acht monatigen Winters. Trotz des schönen Wetters fand ich die Zeit ein Buch seltener Güte zu lesen: „Das Geheimnis des Belimo Erfolges“ von Walter Burkhalter.

Belimo ist eine Schweizer Mittelstandfirma (KMU), welche unter Führung von dessen Mitgründer zum globalen Leader für Regelprodukte in der HLK-Branche wurde. Im Zeitraffer erlebt der Leser die Diskussionspunkte des Führungstrios zu strategischen Weichenstellungen im Aufbau des heute börsenkotierten Unternehmens Belimo Holding AG.

Das Geheimnis von Belimo sind die 23 EKS-Strategiesätze von Wolfgang Mewes. Burkhalter und seine zwei Partner haben sich in ihrer Unternehmensführung von Belimo der Engpasskonzentrierten Strategie verschrieben; sie verinnerlicht und alle Führungsentscheidungen daraus abgeleitet. Als Pragmatiker haben sie in den 35 Jahren der Firmengeschichte vierzehn komplementäre Belimo-Strategiesätze entwickelt und ihren Entscheiden ergänzend zu Grunde gelegt.

Als ich das Buch weglegte, fragte ich mich: Welche Strategiesätze sind auch für Verhandlungssituationen relevant?

EKS 5: Suche den grössten Engpass und löse ihn zuerst. Dann werden sich viele kleinere Probleme von selbst lösen.[i]

Engpässe sind Hindernisse für den Fluss der Verhandlungen. Stocken Verhandlungen, so ist zu fragen, was der Engpass ist. Dazu sollte die Haltung eines neutralen Beobachters eingenommen werden. Denn der Engpass liegt sehr oft nicht bei der Gegenpartei. Oft liegt er im eignen Verstehen und Denken.

EKS 19: Unterscheide zwischen Zielen und Erwartungen.

In Verhandlungen werden sehr oft Ziele und Erwartungen vermischt oder nicht unterschieden. Ziele sind klar definierbar. (Vergleiche Blog 1008) Erwartungen werden oft nicht ausgesprochen. Erwartungen sind potentielle Fallstricke in Beziehungen in der Zukunft. Denn unausgesprochene Erwartungen mutieren mental zu künftig etablierten Fakten. (Vergleiche Blog 1013)

EKS 17: Vermeide Konfrontation, pflege Kooperation.

Im Mächtegleichgewicht heisst die Linie welche Konfrontation und Kooperation verbindet Vertrauen. Bei Konfrontation ist das Vertrauen negativ, in der Kooperation minimal bis stark vorhanden.

EKS 6: Je mehr Du dich mit einem Problem beschäftigst, desto mehr dringst Du in die Tiefe der Zusammenhänge.

In Verhandlungssituationen übersetzt heisst dies: Je mehr Du dich mit der Wechselwirkung von Verhandlungssubstanz in Parteieninteresse beschäftigt, desto mehr dringst du in den Raum möglicher Verhandlungslösungen vor.

EKS 20: Es zählt für Dein Gegenüber (oder den Empfänger) nicht was Du sagst, sondern wie es bei ihm ankommt.

In jeglicher Kommunikation wird die Botschaft durch den Empfänger bestimmt, nicht durch den Absender. Deshalb sind Rückfragen derart wichtig, um die angekommene Botschaft zu verifizieren. (Vergleiche Blog 1013)

In Verkaufsverhandlungen gelten zwei weitere Sätze:

EKS 8: Biete dem Kunden immer mehr Nutzen als die Mitbewerber.

EKS 16: Du musst nicht perfekt sein, nur immer besser als Deine Mitbewerber.

Diese beiden Merksätze sprechen für sich selbst.

Die restlichen EKS-Strategiesätze bieten jedem Unternehmen, welches physische Produkte oder Systeme anbietet, ein hervorragendes Strategiesystem. Es ist mit dem im Buch „Die Erfahrungskurve in der Unternehmensstrategie“ von Bruce D. Henderson beschriebenen Wegweiser für die Geschäftsstrategie und den aufgestellten Sätzen zu Kosten, Preise und Erfahrung kongruent.[ii]  Allerdings hat Mewes die Konsequenzen daraus für die Führung produzierender Unternehmen in ein konsistenteres und deshalb einfacher umzusetzendes System gefasst.

[i] Burkhalter Walter: Das Geheimnis des Belimo Erfolges – Eine Strategie führt zur Weltmarktführerschaft: Orell Füssli Zürich, 2010. Seiten 238 und 239

[ii] Henderson Bruce D.: Die Erfahrungskurve in der Unternehmensstrategie: Campus Verlag Frankfurt/New York, 1974.