Understand/Research the industry you are in discussions with.
Whether you are speaking, bidding or negotiating something it is a good idea to “walk a mile in their shoes” to understand their industry.
As a former Government Contracts Manager/Contracting Officer, I wish I had been educated more on business. I may have made some different decisions if I understood more at the time how business worked.
Being on the other side of the table now and experiencing the “get the contractor” mentality coming from a Government agency is frustrating to say the least. They come from the attitude that they will do as little as possible to help you and in fact be rude or condescending. When I asked a couple of questions about a contract I had won, the response that came back was scolding and condescending. I used some direct communication and contracts speak to back that down.
However, the opinion is there because they don’t understand how business works. They get a paycheck so if my payment is delayed or if they do something to negatively affect my business it’s not a big deal to them. Part of the problem is they need to be educated and understand how business works from someone in business.
It’s amusing to have someone whose never been in business teach about business. That’s like having someone whose not an expert negotiator teach you about negotiation (I’ve seen that too).
Bottom line, get educated as much as you can about the other side so you can respect, understand and negotiate fairly to their position. Without that it becomes a win-lose. Someone win’s at someone else’s loss. Strive for win-win in all your negotiations.