People in the Middle East have learned to make negotiation an enjoyable experience. For them, bargaining is good fun.
The Arabs take special pains to make those they deal with comfortable. They are courteous and solicitous of the other party’s personal needs. Tea and soft drinks are provided and served in a gracious manner. Delicious sweets, dates and bakery goods are offered in abundance.
You feel like an honored guest at a nice party rather than a participant in a high stakes negotiation.
Nothing is rushed. There is lots of small talk before and during the bargaining. Digressions and breaks are a normal part of the process. Introductions between executives of both sides are carefully made to assure that no one is offended. Gifts are exchanged if the parties know each other from previous meetings.
Frequent interruptions from outsiders are tolerated. Wives and children, friends, secretaries, tea boys, associates, and long lost relatives often come and go during the talks. Much cross-conversation takes place, and it is sometimes difficult to tell where business ends and social conversation begins.
The game of negotiation is a welcome diversion in the Mid-East, one to be enjoyed and made fun. This is an important understanding for those seeking to negotiate with those from the Middle East.