My favourite sayings from Prof Koh’s interview:
1. “I was always optimistic. Even when I faced great challenges, I retained my optimism and positive mindset, kept my sense of humour, and always thought – there must be a way of solving problems.”
2. When he negotiates, he starts on the basis that “at the end of the day, we are human beings, so let’s be friends first, try to develop a relationship, some trust in each other. Don’t see each other as an adversary, but if we have a difficult problem, let’s look at the problem”.
3. CQ, or cultural intelligence, is crucial.
“We live in different cultural boxes, so when we work with either one of our neighbours, we must understand their cultural box and where they’re coming from and how they think and, if possible, conduct ourselves in a manner that would be acceptable or indeed even admired by them.
4. On negotiations in the UN. “I show him friendship and warmth. I try not to embarrass him and put him down”.
5. Even if I win every point, it means that my counterpart lost every point. So how can he go back home and sell the package if he lost every point?
6. “we must protect our core interests. But on non-core issues, we must concede so that you have a balanced outcome, one that is durable.”