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Small Business Digest


Seven Secrets To Negotiating With Government Agencies

Business leaders interact with government entities every day.

They are often competing for government contracts, facing new sets of negotiations as they expand, seeking approval for a new building, etc.

In these interactions, business leaders confront a unique set of challenges when dealing with any form of government.

Government negotiations are a special concern to entrepreneurs whose small, but growing businesses encounter new opportunities and new sets of negotiations with each expansion.

However, the government operates differently to other groups because of its unique position and perception of power. 

In Seven Secrets for Negotiating with Governmen, (AMACOM, 2008) Jeswald W. Salacuse addresses the key variables involved, from the influence of bureaucracy to special interests on the government side of the negotiating table, to help business leaders and owners succeed.

He argues that the book is based on three fundamental propositions, which are that:

  • The primary method for individuals and organizations to deal with governments is negotiation
  • Negotiations with governments are different from other kinds of negotiations
  • Despite vast differences in cultures and political systems, all governments - local, state, national, and foreign - perceive and conduct negotiations in similar ways

Using real world examples ranging from negotiations with City Hall to the Sudan, Salacuse reveals:

  • The six rules for getting ready to negotiate with governments
  • How to land government contracts
  • How to develop productive working relationships with government regulators affecting your business
  • The best way to secure government permits
  • When to use third parties like advisors and mediators in government negotiations

Salacuse believes that to navigate the complex world and win in their negotiations business leaders need to use his ten Rules of Diplomacy.  These are:

  • Recognize the necessity of continual negotiation
  • Study and saturate your mind
  • Be an apt listener
  • Know and stay faithful to your goal
  • Have a fertile mind in expedients
  • Have the patience of a clockmaker
  • Be master of yourself and avoid the choleric word
  • Show respect
  • Search constantly for the needs and interests of others
  • Accentuate the positive

The book is designed to offer succinct, realistic and accessible advice to help readers recognize the often-hidden interests driving government negotiators and how to use that knowledge to their advantage.

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