Nice guys come first, says United Nations' Khaled Chatila

“A good negotiator should be a nice guy,” according to Khaled Chatila, senior procurement officer for the United Nations’ World Food Programme in Egypt.

Addressing delegates at the CIPS Middle East Conference focus day in Dubai, Chatila said: “You should be caring, clear and an active listener who is honest and willing to compromise or offer solutions.”

He said the top five most negotiated issues in the business world were price, terms, timeframes, warranties and remedies.

“Wherever there’s difference, there’s conflict,” he said. “You need to remove the tension and gain trust. I like to do negotiations on a Thursday because we can wear jeans – being more relaxed makes the atmosphere completely different.”

Leading a negotiations masterclass, Chatila said working for an humanitarian aid organisation that relies on donor funding to deliver food to the world’s poorest people means he’s comfortable bringing emotion into making deals. “I remember on one trip we had to drive through the valleys for three hours and when we got there a colleague offered an extremely malnourished boy a banana. He ate the skin and threw away the fruit because he’d never even seen one before.”

He said good negotiations require preparation and result in a win-win solution for both buyer and supplier, which require collaboration and compromise.

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