Category Archives: negotiation

Avoid ambiguous signals and lack of attention; or be ready to dynamite your only chance

“There is only one perfect chance to do something right”.

This thought came to my mind yesterday, as I observed someone who was very anxious to start a conversation with another individual. Body language told me that person A was trying desperately to talk to person B on his right. Nevertheless person A was listening to some radio show and was not paying attention to the surroundings. It was a 20 minute fight between person B’s shyness and person A’s lack of interest in even making eye contact with person B.

At one specific moment, person A stopped listening to the radio show. So this was the perfect timing for person B to break the ice. Instead, person B gave up on his attempts to pass his message. Obviously we might think that it was not important for person B to talk to person A, but who knows. What if person B desperately needed the help of person A to succeed?

Person A gave an opportunity to person B, when he ignored the context of the situation and understood that B needed to communicate in spite of unclear signals. But B was not alert so he missed the chance. Those were valuable seconds who were wasted because of a lack of attention.

This can happen at a political level too. A politician is not alone in the arena. Some of them only count on their power and resources, but history has taught us that it is better to have allies than to collect a bunch of enemies just because you were not able to reach out to others.

And if we start thinking about countries, it can get really complicated. Countries sign agreements to cooperate in various areas. I know one specific country which needs to negotiate a trade agreement with a block, started sending confusing messages when he had the chance to return to the negotiation tables and now… we don’t know.

The negotiation power rests on the block, and not on the isolated country. It is possible that the other party does not give a new chance to negotiate the agreement, because of the country’s mistakes. Ambiguous signals can result on failure to comply with objectives. This means, that the country needs a B-plan while it expects not to have negative consequences from this impasse.