Author: Thorsten Hofmann, C4 Institute, Quadriga University Berlin

Thorsten Hofmann leads the CfN (Center for Negotiation) at the Quadriga University Berlin’s Institute for Crisis, Change and Conflict Communication C4. He is an internationally certified Negotiation Trainer and advises corporations and organisations in complex negotiation processes.

A clear case of Ambiguity – EU vs. AstraZeneca

In August, the European Union signed a framework agreement for more than 400 million vaccine doses with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca[1]. The drug was then approved by the European Medicines Agency on Jan. 29, 2021[2]. However, a week earlier the manufacturer surprised by announcing a reduction in supply[3]. According to the EU Commission, less than 40 percent of the expected quantity was to arrive in the foreseeable future[4].

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Negotiate aggressively – When it helps!

When attempting to achieve better negotiation results, the strategic use of emotions is often the key. In particular, anger, which is displayed in the form of aggressive negotiating, is a favorite method of intimidating one’s negotiating partner and persuading them to make concessions. However, the use of emotions in negotiations should be carefully thought through, as they can easily have the opposite effect. So, does it pay to negotiate aggressively?

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Intercultural Negotiations – Look out for Trip Hazards

The G7 Summit in Biarritz about a week ago again demonstrated the complexity of international negotiations. Especially in times of egocentric negotiators like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, the outcome of international meetings between heads of government, on topics from escalating trade conflicts and a hopeless Brexit to climate protections and the Iran deal, can hardly be predicted in advance. All these are sensitive issues and it is essential to develop global solutions in these fields. It is not only narcissistic heads of government, however, who often complicate their negotiations on the international stage. Generally put, there are many factors to consider in every type of negotiation when the negotiating partners come from different cultural backgrounds.

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Groupthink Trap

The SPD in the “Groupthink” Trap

She’s done it: Ursula von der Leyen will be the first woman to head the European Commission beginning November 2019. Being elected from the ranks of parliament, including with the votes of the S&D, the Alliance of Social Democrats, only the SPD, due to its unilateral rejection of the von der Leyen campaign, came out of the vote looking bad. But why did the German Social Democrats insist on rejecting her against their better judgement? The answer is the so-called “group thinking” effect, a phenomenon that can be traced back to dysfunctional interaction patterns of a group. This effect can also occur frequently in negotiations and negatively impact their progress and chances of success

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Heat in negotiations? How to keep a cool head even in sweat-inducing temperatures

The sun is burning, your body is sweating, and your head is screaming for a cool drink and a shady spot to relax. However, the challenges of the workday have called, and a heated negotiation is imminent. These are not exactly ideal conditions to ensure you a concentrated and controlled approach in negotiations. But with a few tips and tricks, you can use these adverse circumstances to your advantage – and negotiate successfully despite hot temperatures.

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Brexit: Back to square one? Will new negotiators bring a better result?

In the UK Theresa May announced her resignation as party leader on 7th of June and new positions are also being filled in the European Union following the last parliamentary elections. However, an exchange of negotiators also has a decisive influence on the further course of the negotiations and the outcome. These are unpredictable variables for the ongoing Brexit negotiations. On the one hand, this can bring new movement into the stalled situation, while on the other hand it increases the risk of a no-deal exit.

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Perception errors and bias in negotiations

 “Nothing is in the mind that would not have been in perception before,” says an Arab proverb. Listening and observing carefully in negotiations is a critical skill for success. It makes the difference between a right and a wrong decision and leads to a good or bad negotiation result. But is everything really the way we “perceive” it? Or are we subject to distortions and manipulations? As psychologists and behavioral economists have found out in numerous studies, cognitive distortions impair our ability to make good and well-founded judgments. Even if we supposedly rationally enter into a negotiation, research shows that human decisions tend to be flawed and biased.

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Bots and AIs: The future of negotiation?

The potential of bots and artificial intelligence is great. Whether autonomous cars or digital language assistants – our lives today are increasingly shaped by artificial intelligence. The application in customer service is particularly successful. Chatbots can successfully interact with customers, answer their questions and solve any problems. Even when calling the customer hotline, today it is often no longer possible to say with certainty whether you are dealing with a person or a social bot at the other end. The successful use of AI in interaction with people thus enables new applications, for example in negotiations.

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