Negotiation Conference 2021

This summary captures a two-day program of keynote speeches, panel discussions, and breakout sessions at the Negotiation Conference 2021 on October 7th & 8th in Zurich.

The Negotiation Conference offered valuable insights, plenty of new perspectives and expanded the scope of strategies and tactics one should use to find a way out of a deadlock in complex negotiations.

The conference brought together over 100 experienced executives, business owners, and negotiation experts from all over Europe as well as the US. In addition, all the participants benefited from valuable networking opportunities and enjoyed getting acquainted with the world’s best negotiators at the luxury venue – Park Hyatt Zurich. 


Session 1: Deadlock – the way out

Opening the conference, the keynote speaker, Matthias Schranner, the CEO and Founder of Schranner Negotiation Institute, introduced the deadlock concept: “Deadlock is defined by high demand, no cooperation. To be effectively dealing under pressure in a deadlock scenario, one might find it helpful to adhere to the following steps: create a storyline, assemble a negotiation team, use demands instead of arguments, define a timeline, use a funnel technique, introduce new information during negotiations to expend you dealings potential if needed, always summarize the deal.” In addition, Matthias has elaborated on the five negotiation strategies and explained why competing and cooperating are the most crucial for complex negotiations.

Session 2: Disagreement

Matthias’s introduction was followed by a Keynote speech and a Panel Discussion with Prof Guy Katz, who introduced new perspectives on applying Mossad negotiation techniques to business. As a former Israeli Intelligence Officer, Prof Katz emphasized respect, trust (first and last impression), constant summarizing, and SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) being the essential components that add to one’s success in negotiations.

Session 3: Empathy

Quite remarkable was the succeeding keynote speech on “How to use empathy to find a way out of a deadlock” conducted by Matthias Schranner. Being a former undercover agent trained by the FBI, Matthias placed compliance with the BCSM Model – Behavioural Change Stairway Model as one of the most critical steps for you to reach the desired outcome in a complex negotiation. This is closely followed by another model Matthias introduced in his contribution. Coming from a police background, Matthias explained how to apply the police interrogation “box” model in business negotiations to lead them to success.

Session 4: Lessons learned from negotiations in the Middle East

Incredibly insightful was the Panel Discussion led by the “secret” speaker who has been negotiating the biggest and the most dangerous deals in the middle east; he was joined by our guest speakers Mrs. Lousin Mehrabi and Mr. Matthias Schranner. Their insights and lesson learned from the most dangerous and complicated negotiations were translated into complex business negotiation scenarios.

Session 5: Breakout Sessions

The Session consisted of 4 workshops. All the attendees had a chance to participate in interactive workshops with speakers. The workshops aimed to provide the means for participants to consolidate newly acquired knowledge.

Session 6: Back Channel

The 3rd way out of a deadlock was represented by a keynote speech from our honorary speaker Baroness Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the European Union common Foreign Minister, and thus the European Union principal negotiator. Based on real-world cases from numerous successful negotiations, Mrs. Ashton shared the most profound insights on the various critical principles in backchannel negotiations. She stressed that it is vital to ensure that backchannel negotiations are firmly rooted in the main (formal) negotiations. Furthermore, backchannel negotiations should not be conducted by “principals” or people who are negotiating formally. Her insights provided participants with a deeper understanding of how and when to apply the backchannel approach in business negotiations.


Session 7: Walk away

The second day of the Negotiation Conference started with a keynote speech by Matthias Schranner, “When and how to walk away.” Matthias highlighted that walking away is not only an acceptable tactic in any negotiations; you could also resort to it when both you and your opponent can no longer find a concession that matches a common goal. He pointed out the main mistakes most managers make walking away from a negotiation (e.g., walking away when you are emotionally involved in a process). Furthermore, he elaborated on how the power struggle and walking away tactics are related. With respect to the possibility of returning to the negotiation table after walking away, Matthias assured: “If breaking negotiations off is a well-thought decision or a well-prepared in advance tactic, it will only benefit you and will pave the way to reopening negotiations at the subsequent stage.”

Session 8: Mindset in a deadlock scenario

Profoundly insightful was the Panel Discussion session with Martina Hingis, one of the world’s most successful tennis players, Prof George Kohlrieser, the IMD Professor of Leadership and Organisational Behaviour, and Matthias Schranner. A positive mindset is one of the crucial components in a challenging negotiation process. A vital question was raised by participants on how to remain in a positive mindset in a crisis. Moreover, we dived deeper into understanding the connection between a leader and one’s success. Additionally, Martina elaborated on recognizing your counterpart’s weaknesses and exploiting them to your advantage.

Session 9: Leadership in a deadlock scenario

In this session, the featured speaker and the IMD Professor George Kohlrieser focused on the role of leadership in a deadlock scenario. He presented issues one should consider when dealing with deadlocks, such as rewarding constructive behavior with the law of reciprocity, dampening your adversarial urge, etc. Prof Kohlrieser believes that understanding losses and being empathetic are the essential elements to a successful negotiation. With regard to leadership, he stresses that beyond being a leader, a manager has to be a secure base for their employees during negotiation or a conflict. Quite extraordinary is Prof Kohlrieser’s view of a conflict. He encourages to view a conflict as an opportunity to learn more about your opponent’s motivation using dialog and empathy as primary tools.

Session 10: Mediation

For this session, we have invited Mr. Gerhard Schröder, the seventh Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany who stayed in office until 2005. He underscored the importance of involving a mediator in complex negotiations, especially after both parties have decided to walk away. With respect to mediation, Mr. Schröder shared some of the real-life and experience-based examples.  Among other topics, Mr. Schroeder and Mr. Schranner touched upon were: negotiations with employers’ associations and unions in conjunction with Agenda 2010; relationship with the US after 9/11; and friendship with politicians. The contribution was conducted in the German language. Therefore, we have invited professionals to perform simultaneous interpretations for the participants who did not speak German.

The videos of the speakers’ contribution are available in the presentation.


It is official, the new date for the Negotiation Conference 2022 has been defined!

October 6&7, Zurich, Switzerland
The 5% Finding Solutions in Difficult NegotiationsMore information available on our website.

We look forward to welcoming you to the Negotiation Conference 2022!




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