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Listening key to negotiating

Dan Wheat

Capital Press

Listening is a key in negotiations, says Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers Association, who has had decades of experience.

As a labor attorney, deputy assistant secretary of state, ambassador to Morocco and business executive, Tom Nassif has negotiated countless deals over four-plus decades.

Asked for the keys to successful negotiations, here’s what he said:

“I suppose everyone would answer that differently. I would say the first thing, most importantly, is to be a good listener. If you listen to what they say, you will learn where they are willing to give and where they are unable to give. It helps you formulate proposals and counterproposals.

“The second most important thing is inspire trust. If they trust you even though you vehemently disagree with them, they will come to believe what you say when you tell them: ‘On that issue, I have no room for movement.’

“And third, the most important thing is to negotiate with someone who is smart. Any dummy can say no. You have to be intelligent to say yes because yes has consequences.

“Also sometimes it’s more difficult to negotiate with your client than the opposition. Your client needs to know when to say yes and no. Sometimes it’s harder to convince your client when to agree than the other party.”

Tom Nassif

Age: 72

Born and raised: Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Hollywood, Calif.

Family: Wife, Zinetta, retired dental hygienist; daughter, Jaisa Nassif, 43; son Matthew Christian Nassif, 42; two grandsons.

Education: Graduate of John Marshall High School, Hollywood, Calf., 1959; bachelor’s degree, California State University in Los Angeles, 1965; law degree, California Western University School of Law in San Diego, 1968.


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