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Three Keys to Negotiating Success

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Three Keys to Negotiating Success

How great would it be if you could walk into any negotiation feeling confident and walk away satisfied that you had the best possible outcome? In this presentation, Susan Borke will teach you three elements that you can use to improve your negotiations with your clients, managers, team members, contractors, vendors, and even friends or family.


Susan Borke


Susan Borke - Hello. I'm Susan Borke, principal of BorkeWorks. My mission is to help you tap into the power of strong negotiation skills for yourself and for your clients. I provide a research-based, problem-solving, interactive approach to negotiation training that reduces negotiation anxiety and improves negotiator effectiveness. If you don't ask, you don't get. I first used this simple principle as a financially strapped college student who needed to find a way to get course credit for an unpaid internship that I was doing one summer. In order to get credit, I was initially told that I would have to pay summer term tuition. I asked some more questions and was able to work out with a professor that I would do work over the summer and research, and then register for an independent study during the fall. I would take it as an extra class and it would be included within my fall term tuition. In this way, I had one of my first successful negotiations and it helped to spark my passion for teaching this strategy and other effective negotiating techniques. I am passionate about helping people develop as effective negotiators. I believe no one is born a master negotiator. Great negotiation skills come from a combination of knowledge, training, and practice. I have over 35 years of negotiating and negotiation training experience with domestic and international commercial companies, educational institutions, and nonprofits. Where I've been a media executive first at CBS, and then working as in-house council at National Geographic Society. My goal is to start you on the path to becoming a more effective and successful negotiator in your everyday negotiations, whether they're with clients, on behalf of clients, with team members, contractors, colleagues, vendors, and even in your personal life with family or friends.

Let's get started. The first thing to look at and for us to focus on are the learning objectives for this course. I have three. The first has to do with opportunities to negotiate. Many people miss opportunities to negotiate. So, I want you to learn how to recognize when opportunities to negotiate arise. The second learning objective has to do with mindset. All the research in resilience and growth tells us that mindset is essential to learning new skills and becoming proficient. You are here because you have adopted a growth mindset. Now, I want you to adopt the kind of mindset that is going to make you a successful negotiator. The third learning objective is to make the shift from intuitive negotiating to intentional negotiating. More importantly, I want you to become a strategic negotiator. Strategic negotiators are successful negotiators. And the model to which I'm going to introduce you will give you the structure to negotiate strategically.

Here's a question. When does an opportunity to negotiate arise? Take a couple of minutes and think about it. Over the years, I've received many answers to this question. For example, an opportunity to negotiate arises with a new client engagement. An opportunity to negotiate arises when I'm trying to get a promotion. An opportunity to negotiate arises when I'm discussing the compensation for a new job. An opportunity to negotiate arises when I'm buying a house or when I'm buying a car. An opportunity to negotiate arises when I'm negotiating at home about who does certain chores. Or it may arise when I'm negotiating with friends or family about where to go on vacation. And so on. The fact is there are all kinds of opportunities to negotiate.

What all my examples and I'm sure the ones you have thought of have in common is that they are requests. Any time you ask someone to do something or someone makes a request of you is an opportunity to negotiate. The key question is whether to negotiate. If you have any exposure to young children or teenagers, you know they will negotiate every request. Every opportunity for them is an opportunity to negotiate. As adults, we actually often go to the other extreme. We are so pressed for time, we tend to default to a binary response. Someone makes a request of us and we feel pressured to answer yes or no right away. Think about it. In only rare occasions do you have enough information to evaluate the request and make such a binary determination. What if you just paused and asked a question? For example, your boss or a partner comes to you and asks if you will work on a specific project. You will likely feel pressured to answer yes. Given your current workload and deadlines, you may want to answer no. What if you took a moment and asked a question? Here are some possibilities. What would my role be? What are the deliverables for this project? When is the deadline for delivering everything? What makes me the best candidate to do this work? How do you see this project in the priorities of my existing obligations? I'm sure you can think of other questions you'd want to ask. All of these can help you evaluate whether this is actually an opportunity that you can answer in a very binary way, yes or no, or in fact if it is an opportunity that you wanna negotiate. So moving on from that idea, we've decided this is an opportunity that we wanna negotiate, whatever it is.

Now, I've got another question for you. What is the best approach to take when negotiating? And here are your four choices. Number one, the best approach to take when negotiating is I win, you lose. Number two, the best approach to take when negotiating is everyone is equally happy. Number three, the best approach to take when negotiating is the most efficient disposition of resources. Number four, the last one, the best approach to take when negotiating is all parties are equally unhappy. Now, many people feel that no matter how you put it, one way or the other, at the end of the day, I win, you lose ends up being the best approach to take when negotiating. I wanna fix that. The last choice, all parties are equally unhappy, is actually kind of an old school formulation. And I would like to reject that because I think it leaves way too much value on the table. Most of the people I teach, like you probably did, tend to choose either everyone is equally happy or the most efficient disposition of resources. The bias is actually toward the answer, everyone is equally happy. I also reject that attitude because I have no control over my counterparty's emotions. What I can control is my efforts to ensure that I have maximized the value for both parties. Agreements based on value rather than happiness, which is fleeting, are also likely to last longer. And when you have to renegotiate them, as is inevitable, you have a firmer foundation to the relationship and your negotiations are going to be both faster and more effective. All this tells us that we need to go into negotiations with the mindset that's going to help us be successful.

So, what does a successful negotiating mindset look like? It maximizes the value for the parties and requires engaging in problem solving process and constructive collaboration. What I mean is that when you approach a negotiation as a problem you need to solve with your counterparty, that's going to naturally take you into a posture of constructive collaboration. Now, I certainly realize that many people come to negotiations with a very competitive mindset. Rather than seeing a negotiation as something overweight us, you're trying to find a solution to a problem that engages both of you, these people see it as a competition and their objective is to as much as they can. There are techniques to set boundaries and even engage such competitive negotiators more collaboratively. And at its most extreme, this is what hostage negotiators do. For now, I just want you to realize that you will be more effective for yourself and for your clients if you focus on problem solving in. And that's true regardless of who your counterparty is and how they come to the negotiate. It is often the case that people just jump into. They like to wing it or they feel they haven't enough time to do any kind of meaningful preparation. I call this intuitive negotiate. Like competitive negotiating, the consistent result is to come to agreements that have less value than existed in the situation. So, each party ends up with less than really what they could have had. As I mentioned earlier, I want you to approach negotiations intentionally.

Toward that end, I have developed the negotiation success cycle, which is a model for negotiating. There are two parts to this model. The first consists of two phases, preparing and engaging. The second part of the model is a cycle that moves you between these phases. While some negotiations may be one and done, meaning you prepare, you work your way through the cycle, you engage, and then you're finished, those are a minority. As I'm sure you've experienced, most negotiations, especially ones that you're doing on behalf of your clients or even with them, involve a number of interactions between. The preparation phase is what you do by yourself, before you meet with your counterparty. The engagement phase is when you are in dialogue with your counterparty, whether in person, by telephone, or on a video platform. If you are engaging by email, that is still engaging with preparation before and after each email. Preparation's first step is research. Then, you move from that to rehearse. So, you can engage effectively with your counterparty. When you actually engage, that is the relate part of the cycle. Immediately after each engagement, you need to reflect, to inform how you will use research and rehearse to prepare for the next in time you engage with your counterparty. Preparation is vital to negotiating successfully.

Today, I am going to focus on the first stage of the cycle, research. In fact, research is itself a significant element. It has several parts. And in the time we have today, I will focus on the three basics. They are interests, options, and standards. I like to say that these three elements are like the three legs of a. If you master just these, you will become a more successful negotiator, both for yourself and on behalf of your client. To make the remainder of our discussion relevant to you, I want you to think about a challenging negotiation. It could be one that you are facing now or anticipate soon, or it can be one that you recently conclude. Take a minute and think about it. Really get it in mind. Who are the parties? What was the issue or issues? How did it turn out? Or how do you want it to turn out? How do you feel about it? Is this a negotiation you're doing for yourself? Or is this a negotiation you're undertaking on behalf of a client or somebody? Now that you have this negotiation in mind, just keep it there. Everything I'm talking about using different examples that I hope are still relevant to you, I want you to think about how you would apply these ideas to your own personal negotiation. The first thing we need to do is identify interests. And that's easy to say. It's more challenging to actually accomplish.

First of all, you need to understand the difference between positions. Positions are what we say we want. Generally, you can tell something is a position when it elicits a binary. For example, I want to go to Disney World on vacation. The response is either yes, let's or no, and fill in the objection of your choice. It's too crowded, too expensive, et cetera. Interests are different. Let's think about what might be appealing to me about Disney World. It's safe. It is a single destination. There are lots of different things to do. It involves walking and almost no driving. The rides are exciting. Those characteristics, to the extent they appeal to me, are my interests. And as you can see, rather than being binary, interests tend to be descriptive. I mean, you're not going to say yes or no to whether it's safe. This is a descriptive thing. It's a description of why I wanna go. My position, I wanna go to Disney world.

Another way to think about positions and interests is the image of an iceberg. With icebergs, what you see on the surface, which in this case I will say is very much like the positions that I or my counterparty might assert. So what is on the surface is much smaller than what lies below the surface, which are the interests. This distinction is important because the power in a negotiation is in understanding the party's interests. When somebody asserts a position, there's only one answer, yes or no. When people start focusing on their interests, there may be many different ways of actually achieving or satisfying those interests. Here's a specific example. Imagine, if you will, this situation. Two children and one orange. Each child claims the whole orange. How to negotiate this situation? What would you do? When I posed this question, many people suggest cutting the orange in half and giving some to each child. Others propose that one child cut the orange in half and the other child selects from the cut pieces. I have had people suggest giving one child an orange and one an apple. These are certainly all good ideas. Here is another. Ask the children what they plan to do with the orange. One child tells you they're hungry. They wanna eat the orange. The other child says they are cooking and need orange zest for their recipe. Once you go behind the position, I want the orange, to the interests, I want the inside of the orange to eat, I want the outside of the orange for cooking, the value you can extract from the situation grows significantly. Suddenly, you go from giving each party 50% of what they need to 100% of what they want. This is what I'm talking about when I tell you that understanding each party's interests, understanding your own interests and understanding your counterparty's interests, is a key to negotiating successfully.

Let's try applying this in a more real life, perhaps. So as I'm doing this with the example I'm going to come up with, I want you to do it, thinking about your personal. We start with positions. Going back to your personal negotiation, what positions did you assert? What did you say you wanted? And remember, these are statements that you want your counterparty to say yes to. So in the vacation example, my positions may be that I want to go to the beach in July and stay for a week. After I articulate my positions to myself,. We're doing preparation, nobody else is there. I now need to think about the positions my counterparty is likely to. What are the statements my counterparty will make in response to my positions that are statements my counterparty wants me to affirm? So, these are statements that my counterparty wants me to say yes to, the same way that I want my counterparty to say yes to, going to the beach in July and staying for. In the vacation example, I think my counterparty is likely to say, "I don't like the beach. It's too crowded in July. I want to go to the mountains in September for at least 10 days." Now, let's go back to your personal negotiation. We've talked about, you've thought through what your positions are in that negotiation. Now, I want you to think about what are the positions that your counterparty is likely to assert or actually did assert. The next step is to dig a little deeper and think about each party's interest. I'll use the vacation example again. I like the beach. In fact, I like a particular town at the beach because it has a variety of things to do, good restaurants, the ability to walk in nature, shops. And once I get there, I can walk everywhere. I can ditch the car. I want to be there when the water and the weather is warm so that I can go swimming if I feel. I feel like I need at least a week to unwind And I'm worried about the cost of staying longer, both in terms of money and also of being away from work too long.

Think about your own personal negotiation. What are aspects of your positions that are meaningful to you? What are are the descriptors that help us understand, help you understand your interests in that negotiation? Now, we need to think about the interests behind our counterparty's position. In my vacation example, where my counterparty wants to go to the mountains in September for 10 days, as I think about what are the underlying interests that my counterparty might have, I think that maybe my counterparty likes to take different kinds of hikes. That some might be easy hikes, maybe some are more challenging. I also think that my counterparty prefers whether that isn't as hot as it gets at the height of summer. And also, my counterparty dislikes crowds. Maybe I also know that my counterparty is busy in the summer. It's a heavier time for that.

Now, let's go to your personal. How would your counterparty describe their interests? What underlies each of their positions that describes something that is important to them? The next step is to summarize the party's interests. You wanna create a table with two columns. One is my interests and the other is my counterparty's interest. Going back to the vacation example, I can articulate my interests as I want different activities, a variety of activities. I want warm weather where I can go swimming in the ocean. I wanna be able to do a lot of walking, little driving. I wanna be outdoors and I wanna be away for seven days. My counterparty, when I think about what they may want, what their interests may be, is to have lots of different kinds of hikes to. Few people. To be warm, but not that hiking is going to be uncomfortably hot. And being away for a longer period of time, like 10 days.

Thinking about your own personal negotiation, how would you populate a table of interests for you and for your counterparty? Once you've done that, created that table, we now need to look at this to see if we can find any commonalities. In my vacation example, it seems like we both want to be outdoors. We both wanna walk a lot. We both want warm weather. We both wanna be away for a period of time that exceeds at least five days, arguably up to seven, maybe over seven. Each of us may be less invested in certain elements of our positions. And some parts of our interests may simply not jive at all. They don't all have to be common. For example, I may be more interested in getting to the beach and less invested in where or the exact month. I may have a strong interest in going away in July because of work or other constraints. My counterparty may be most interested in being in nature, away from the city, and hiking. So as you think about your personal negotiation, can you see any common interests that you share with your counterparty?

Also, as you go through your interests, think about what is the most important of yours. And what is the least important. As you think about your counterparty's interests, what do you think may be your counterparty's most important and least important? We've talked a lot about interests because they're fundamental to the preparation you do. First, research phase of the negotiation success cycle. The next phase, after you've done your research and your preparation with respect to interests, is to look at options. Here is the definition of options that I use. Options are possible agreements or parts of agreements. So, they involve all the parties to the particular. You want to make sure that part of your preparation involves coming up with a number of options. In the vacation example, here are some examples of options. We could take two five-day vacations in different months. We could go to a different part of the beach or a different beach town that's less crowded. We could go to the beach at a different time of year, like after Labor Day, when it might be less crowded. We could look for a town in the mountains that offers a whole variety of things like restaurant and shops and easy access to hiking that wouldn't involve a lot of driving.

Another possibility, another option is for us to agree to alternate beach vacations and mountain vacations. There are many other options. Notice how it may be possible to combine some of these options together to form what we call packages. So, we are going to go to a town in the mountains that offers these other activities, in addition to hiking. So there are several things involved there that address a bunch of different interests. When you can offer packages of options, it will help you learn a lot about your counterparty's interests and the priority of those. How they react to a package gives you great information. If you put a pack package of options together and they respond that, "Oh, well, this part of the package works great. This part is unattractive." Now, you're beginning to get useful information about their interests.

I'd like you to spend some time thinking about your personal. As you do that, you may discover that suddenly your mind is a big blank. If that is the case, I can help you out. One technique that I'm sure you've heard of is called brainstorming. Most people know about brainstorming as a group activity, and there is certainly a benefit to that. We just don't always have the time or the people to do. So, here's an easy way to do it by yourself. You're going to need something to write with, pen, pencil, marker, crayon, whatever works for you. You're gonna need something to write on. And I really urge that you find a large surface on which you can write. It's better than a computer screen because you wanna have everything, to not have to scroll back and forth or up and down. You can either use a big piece of flip chart paper or if you have a whiteboard or a wall and use a bunch of post-its, one for each idea. You need a problem statement around which you're going to. And you want it to be fairly concrete and specific. So rather than I wanna go, how am I going to go to the beach, which while very specific is still too position oriented. You might wanna say what are ways that I could have the closest thing to what I enjoy about a beach vacation in the mountains? Or what is the closest way to have what would be appealing to my counterparty about a mountain vacation at the beach? Then, you need to set an amount of time. That might be five minutes to 10 minutes. You could be fancy and just pick eight, or leave it at 10. Finally, you need a goal for your number of ideas. So, pick something conservative. My point here is that quantity is king. Quality is irrelevant. There are no bad ideas in brainstorm. And the whole activity, once you start that timer, is going to be a lot like making popcorn, except you can't stop when the ideas stop. What I mean is this. Initially, you'll have one idea and then another idea, and then another idea, and another idea. And those ideas will start pop, pop, pop, pop, popping, accelerating. And you'll have all these ideas that'll be really cool. And then, it'll start to slow. And the spaces between ideas will get longer at a point that you're done. Except the timer isn't and I'll bet you're nowhere near your goal of a thousand ideas. At the least, you need to keep going until that timer beeps.

So, what do you do? Again, quantity is the key. So you can make a little change to one idea, and it's a whole new idea. That counts. You can put two ideas together. That makes a new idea. You can take one idea and break it into two separate smaller ideas. That works too. Sometimes if you think about what you would need to do to achieve the opposite of your goal in the problem statement, you might find that it will give you ideas about how to achieve those interests that you want to achieve. Finally, the timer will ring and you will have a page full or a wall full, whatever it is, full of ideas. And these are all options. We can come up with lot of different options as we just did.

How do we know which ones to propose? Which are the ones we should keep? As you try to answer this question, think about what of these possible criteria are going to be the best for evaluating options. There are four possibilities. First, it's better for your counterparty. Second, it gets you what you want. Third, the party's interests. Fourth, mutually agreed criteria. When I ask this question as a poll, most people think that mutually agreed criteria is the best way to go. I appreciate how that supports collaborative problem solving. The difficulty is that it will a side negotiation when you have a perfectly good criteria already. The party's interests are great criteria for evaluating options. If the option or package fails to meet any of my interests, I'll reject it. If it fails to meet my high priority interests, I'll also reject it. And the same is true for my counterparty. When we focus on the party's interests, we are also much more likely to maximize the value that each party will realize from the negotiation.

In preparation, this preparation stage, you really want to get clarity about your own interests to be able to develop options that are meaningful to you. At the same time, you want to think clearly and deeply about your counterparty's interests. Now, I under understand that you are no mind reader. Neither am I. I'll bet you know more about your counterparty than you make. The key when trying to figure out your counterparty's interests is to focus on developing hypotheses and avoid falling into the trap of assumptions. Why do you think I'm making that distinction? What do you think is the difference between a hypothesis and an assumption? To me, assumptions reflect something I know. Once I have made an assumption, I am unlikely to change it and that tends to close me off to other possibilities. A hypothesis is an idea I want to test. If I'm right, terrific. If my idea is only partly right or completely wrong, I am open to modifying or replacing it with whatever information I've obtained. In a negotiation, this is really important. I have my ideas about my counterparty's interests and it is equally important that I remain open to finding out my counterparty's actual interests when we're engaging with each other. If I treat my ideas about my counterparty's interests as hypotheses, then I can create options and packages that test my hypotheses and give me information about my counterparty's actual interests, and even the relative priority of their interests.

Going back to the vacation example, I may propose a package of options that consists of taking two five-day vacations, one to the beach in July and one to the mountains in September. How my counterparty responds to these options will tell me some information about the relative importance of duration, time of year, and destination for them. Options are really useful, as you can see. There may come a time in a negotiation when you are unable to reconcile all of the party's interests with options. It may become necessary to choose between two competing interests. There are two ways to approach this situation. One is a contest of will, who can shout the loudest, threaten most believably, or is perceived to have the most leverage. A second way to resolve competing interest is through standards. Standards are objective measures that the parties agree, apply to the situation, and can be used to evaluate the priority of competing interests. An example of a standard is legality. For example, my client may come to me and ask me to give a bribe to a party. I can easily decline that. It's almost not a negotiation. Because in fact, to bribe is illegal. And I have no obligation or desire to do something that would get he disbarred, as well as subject to all kinds of other penalties. There are other things though that are qualify as standards. Other examples of standards are generally accepted accounting principles, legal requirements, industry practices, standard contractual language, market rates.


Also, you can use precedent as a standard. Not legal precedent, although certainly that is a standard. I'm talking about practical precedent. Something that will one party does consistently in transactions of this kind or something that the parties, a practice that they have evolved with each other consistently over time. So, that's an interesting standard. It really is looking at if a party has a consistent practice. So, let's say a party may have an internal policy of paying all invoices in excess of a hundred thousand dollars in no less than 45 days. That is a standard, even if everybody else in the industry pays within 30 days. Now, what you have is two competing standards and that requires a negotiation. They're still though standards. The key elements are consistency and objectivity, as in they're concrete and measurable. When I worked at National Geographic Society, we had a requirement to approve anything on which our trademark appeared. And this was a requirement in any license agreement into which we entered. Now, a company as big and is well known as Disney can assert this kind of standard. We were still successful including it in our license agreement because first of all, it was in every license agreement. And second, we made the argument that all National Geographic Society had was its name recognition. And it was vital to the value of the trademark and therefore, the license, that we maintain close control over how our name was used and how it appeared. In the vacation example that I'd been using, a standard might be that water temperatures at the beach are warmer in September than July.

Another may be that the time to get to the mountains is longer in the fall, due to traffic for fall foliage watching, than in the summer. While the time to travel to the beach in the summer is much longer than after Labor Day. Let's go back to your personal. What are some standards that you could introduce into the negotiation? What are some standards that your counterparty is likely to assert?

So, just to summarize. Sometimes interests aren't enough and standards are a way of distinguishing risk and help you identify options that will allow the parties to. I wanna review what we've talked about. First, we thought about when does an opportunity to. And that is anytime there's a request. So, you need feel no surprise if you make a request of somebody and they take it as an opportunity to negotiate. By the same token, when somebody makes a request of you, you need to think about, or perhaps ask a question, so that you can determine if this is something you want to negotiate. We talked about what makes a successful negotiation mindset. And it really is to approach a negotiation as a problem to be solved and engage in constructive collaboration to do. In the example I used, we wanna go on vacation. The problem we're solving is where, when, and how long.

Finally, we moved into the whole concept of being not only an intentional negotiator, but using the negotiating success cycle to guide us to be strategic negotiators. As we investigated the applicability of the negotiating success cycle, I talked about preparing effectively for a negotiation. I focused on the three basic elements of research, interests, options, and standards. If you just practice using these elements when you prepare for a negotiation, you will negotiate more successfully. Because most people fail to prepare or fail to prepare strategically for negotiations. You will have an advantage if you do this work. More importantly, if someone has prepared, you are at no disadvantage. Research has shown that when parties to a negotiation have prepared, they both tend to maximize value they get from the negotiation. This means that each party is less likely to leave value unclaimed.

Here is how an example of how a student of mine used these principles to know she had maximized the value in her compensation negotiation. And I'm using her description of her experience. "I ended up not negotiating any higher for my salary, which I normally would've considered losing the conversation. However, because I had so thoroughly prepared and had questions ready to flesh out the details within the offer letter I received, I learned in that conversation that some of the terms of the offer letter were actually better than I thought, which counterbalance the amount of the salary. For example, the offer letter said I would to be receiving 10 sick or personal days according to the policy. However, I found out that the policy also included unlimited vacation days. I wouldn't have known that had I left vacation days out as one of my interests. I also found out during our in depth conversation that the offer they were making to me meant I was the third highest paid person in the office. So, although, I quote failed at increasing my salary, I walked away content with what I had learned and confident that I was making the right choice in leaving my other employer and taking this position at this salary. I also think that the other party, my future boss, felt pleased with such a thorough conversation. So, I really do consider it a win."

To help you retain what I've talked about, please take a moment and answer these three questions. It's really best if you can pause this recording and write down your answers. You'll get the most out of the exercise. If you are unable to write your answers, at least take time to think about each question thoroughly. The first question is, what questions are still circling in your mind that you didn't understand? What would you wanna know more about? The second question is, what squared with your values? What was meaningful to you? What do you feel comfortable doing or trying in the future? The third question is, what points stuck with you? Did you have any aha moments? Is there something you wanna tell somebody that you learned from this or are eager to try for your next negotiation? There is still two elements of research to discuss.

In terms of the metaphor I've been using, that three legged stool, adding a fourth leg and a back to the seat transforms it from a stool to a chair. A chair is more comfortable and more stable than. When we complete the rest of research with people and BATNA, you will have an even strong foundation for your negotiation. You could reach me at the information at the end of this program outline. And I hope if you have any questions, you do send me an email. I look forward to hearing questions you have or successes that you have as a result of putting these ideas. Preparation and then the three basics of looking at interests for yourself and for your counterparty, developing options and I hope being able to put them into packages, and then, last identifying standards that support your interests, as well as considering and trying to anticipate standards that your counterparty is likely to assert. Remember to stay curious And all your thoughts about your counterparty to articulate to yourself that these are hypotheses and your goal when you engage is to test them, to see where you're right, where you're partially right, where you're wrong and what new information you can get in those interactions.

I wish you success in your negotiations. Thank you for your time today.

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