Keys to a constructive discussion

No matter what the subject is, exchanging by phone or even face-to-face can be tricky. At the era of e-mails, whatsapp and other chatting tools, we are not necessarily encouraged to pick-up the phone, even though a good discussion can often save a lot of time and bring the relation to the next level, not matter what this level is.

In addition to visualizing clearly what the objective of the meeting is (this will be the subject of a future post), here are a few principles to lead a good and constructive exchange.

Adaptability is not playing a role

I realized that both concepts are sometimes mixed up when I discussed with one of my team members, who had issues in having good conversations with interlocutors over the phone, no matter if they were clients, prospects, or suppliers. He mentioned that he thought he was playing the role that his interlocutor was expecting him to play, but still could feel his own lack of credibility in his interlocutor’s replies which were often expeditious.

There is a huge difference in between adaptability and playing a role. When working, especially in exports, one must demonstrate a good dose of adaptability in order to fit to the various cultures, company profiles, personalities which will be encountered.

However, like in personal life, it is essential to stay your-self, no matter the circumstances. If you end up having dinner together with a family-businessman and a multinational buyer, both guests must feel in presence of the person they know.

This lead to the second tip :

Credibility lies in Honesty

Nobody is perfect. This is important to understand and fully comprehend : nobody is perfect.

It is not possible to know everything and it is essential to assume the fact that there are questions which cannot be answered straight away, rather than trying to advance uncertain replies in a falsely confident voice.

Credibility will go with honest answers. Honest answers will lead to peace-of-mind. Peace-of-mind will lead to a nice and relaxed conversation.

Uplifting the discussion

A conversation has an objective, a question to be replied to, and information to be given.

However, whenever possible, it is good to uplift the discussion in order to take the relation to the next level.

This can be done by giving an update on the market which could be useful to the interlocutor even if he did not ask for it, by asking more details about the interlocutor’s projects, or even by sharing an idea and asking for his point of view.

The above will help in building a breeding ground to a constructive conversation, in which one of the most important skills for a successful export development will play part : Listening.

Indeed, having a solid export action plan is good, but learning how to adapt by genuinely listening and understanding the market’s feedback is key.

E-mails often stay on very basic communication level, on operational question-answer mode. As a result, this is by handling constructive conversation, by phone or face-to-face, that these key messages will be given.

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Diplomatic update : it happened in September 2016

EUROPEAN UNION : The BRATISLAVA SUMMIT aimed to remind European foundation principles : peace, prosperity and solidarity. It concluded with the signature of a 6-month action plan to boost homeland security, granting a « flexible solidarity » option to Zchek Republic, Poland, Slovenia and Hungary (areas where tensions on migrants policies are the highest)

COLOMBIA : a peace agreement in between the government and the FARC army was signed. Update : the referendum results of the 2nd of October showed that the Colombian population rejected this peace agreement at 50,24%. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos stated that he would not give up to seek peace despite these results. For more info : The Guardian – colombia-referendum-rejects-peace-deal-with-farc

ISRAEL : Shimon Peres died at the age of 93. He won the Nobel peace prize in 1994 for his actions for peace in the Middle East. He was one of the Israel’s founding fathers. For more info : Biography – Nobel Prizes – Shimon Peres

UK : Theresa May, conservative Prime Minister, states that the article 50 to officially start the Brexit process will be implemented by March 2017, so the UK is out of the EU by 2019. Jeremy Corbyn won the Britain’s Labour Party elections for the second time.

USA : First presidential debate in between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

GABON : Despite contested results by his opponent Jean Ping, Ali Bongo is re-elected President. He is President since 2009 and succeeded to his father Omar Bongo.

TUNISIA : Youssef Chahed forms the 9th government since the Jasime revolution in 2011. His priority will be to promote and boost Tunisian economy.

German company Bayer (chemistry and phytosanitary sector) buys the multinational Monsanto (agrochemicals and seed development) for $66 billion. This fusion is source of controversy as it might tend to create a worldwide monopoly for agricultural seed supplies.

OPEC members agreed to lower production of about 700.000 barrels/day in order to face price crisis. This decision is heavy in significations as this is only the 3rd time the OPEC officially influence the market (after the oil shock of 1973 and 1986). It is also an agreement relying on two opposing countries : Saudi Arabia (sunnite side) Iran (shiite side). For more info : NewYork Times – OPEC agrees to cut production

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