So here it is: tips and tricks for negotiating with Iranians.
Iranians do not care if they lose. This makes them dangerous negotiators. People, particularly Iranians, always argue with me on this point, but I remain unshaken.
They are tough because they are so rarely desperate. If they are desperate they either lose big in negotiations or have learned to hide it so well that the other negotiator will eventually fold.
Iranians negotiate everything. It is never safe to presume that you and an Iranian have the same idea concerning the subject of the negotiation. Let’s say that you are negotiating for a chicken dinner. You spend 1-month talking about this chicken dinner. You finally come to an agreement and it is time for the Iranian to present you with your chicken dinner. What you end up is a sandwich that you share with a live chicken. Anyone who has seen The Beverly Hillbillies turkey dressing episode will understand. (I surprisingly cannot find a good reference to this episode online. Let’s see, what I remember is that Granny asks Mr. Dreysdale to dress the turkey for Thanksgiving. He puts the turkey in a 3-piece suit and leads him to the Clampett’s for dinner.)
1. Never threaten.
Iranians do not respond well to threats. State your intentions at the beginning of the negotiations. State the consequences of failed negotiations. It is important to be prepared to accept the consequences before you state them. If you are unwilling to accept the consequences, do not state them.
2. Flatter the Iranian.
Always appeal to an Iranian’s vanity. Flatter him with everything and anything you can imagine. Bring him flowers, cologne, sparkling grape juice. Appeal to his honor and his pride. Call him by honorifics that he does not deserve: like doctor or engineer. Ask him to do you a favor.
3. Do not flinch when insulted.
Just make sure that you find a way to inflict a worse insult, preferably in the form of flattery.
4. Never show desperation.
While you may remind an Iranian of a deadline, you must not show any desperation to meet the deadline.
5. Do not ever trust an Iranian negotiator who acts like he is your friend.
You are about to get screwed big time.
6. Do not warn, act.
Let’s say the negotiations are now failed. At this point, you need to act. If you lack the will to act, then you broker rule 1. You threatened.
WARNING: Everything I wrote above may be wrong. I, myself, am never successful in negotiations with Iranians because I am too optimistic. I always think that this time things will be different...