It’s your first task. If you don’t create the right atmosphere, you may never start moving toward a deal.
Part One included a transcript of the first minute of a session between Jack, a consultant, and George, a long-term client. George is a tough negotiator, but he likes to start with a little warm-up period. Jack annoyed him by immediately asking, “Did you get a chance to read our proposal?”
George frowns slightly, then says, “Yes, it seems to satisfy most of our needs.”
Jack misses the significance of the word “most” and continues, “I’m sure you’ll find that it’s an excellent proposal.”
“Jack, I have a lot of confidence in your firm. You’ve always done good work for us.”
“But I’m concerned about the training.”
Jack looks a bit surprised. “Oh?”
“You said that one of your people will do it.”
“We have a well-qualified person who could handle it. Her name is Joan Mclntyre. Here’s her resume.” George hands Jack the resume and sits back, waiting for him to read it
Jack doesn’t even look at it because he’s already dismissed the idea of using Joan. “Well, George, we’ve found that our staff does a much better job than internal people.”
Questions and Textbook Answers
Of course, you may disagree with the textbook answers. Many people do, but make sure you have good reasons for disagreeing.
- What should Jack have done after George said, “”It seems to satisfy most of our needs.”
He should have recognized that “most” meant it didn’t satisfy all of George’s needs. It’s subtle, but good negotiators understand subtle signals. The more you understand other people, the better results you’ll get.
You may regard “most” as a positive signal because you want to “think positively.” That’s the wrong way to think while negotiating. Instead, be realistic: Try to learn how other people really think, not how you want or are afraid they think.
Jack should have said something like: “Most? I guess that means it doesn’t satisfy some needs. Which ones wouldn’t be satisfied?”
That question provides two benefits. First, it shows he’s trying to understand George, improving the atmosphere. Second, he would learn some important information.
- What should Jack have done after George handed him Joan’s resume?
Whenever somebody gives you something to read, either read it immediately, or ask, “Should I read this now?” Jack rejected and offended George.
Understanding and adjusting to other people are central themes of my videos and eBook: Negotiate to Win: Gaining the Psychological Edge, 2d Edition.
The eBook will be published very soon. FOR A LIMITED TIME, you can get a free copy by clicking HERE .
(I will arrange to send the copy when the book is released.)
You can watch the first video of this series for free by clicking HERE.