Negotiation = Interactive Problem-solving

In Optimism, Sales, Training on July 20, 2011 at 9:22 AM

In the negotiation training I’ve led recently, it’s clear that many people aren’t aware of how often they negotiate.  They may consider an interaction a negotiation only if it’s in a formal financial or legal or business setting, only if they’re sitting across the proverbial table from “an opponent,” or getting ready to work out a deal expected to end in a signed contract, or something similar.

How many of your waking hours do you spend in problem-solving that involves another person?  For instance:

  • With colleagues, determining who’ll cover which project responsibilities? 
  • With your boss, scheduling vacation or training or overtime? 
  • With family members, divvying up household chores or deciding whether you’ll vacation at Grama’s or at Disney World? 
  • With the convenience store clerk, trying to slide in the door to buy milk just before he turns off the lights ?

Those are negotiations, problem-solving opportunities.  Not thinking as a negotiator-problem solver often leads to unsatisfactory solutions.  You can improve your success by replacing your image of a “negotiating event” with the vision of “interactive problem-solving.”  

Our days and evenings are filled with problem-solving, most of it involving other people, so be ready for them.  Applying good negotiation techniques helps smooth out all our interactions & increases our likelihood of developing solutions that satisfy everyone.


Getting to the Truth – #2

In Sales, Values on July 18, 2011 at 6:00 AM

My previous posting was the first of a series of techniques to get to the truth with prospects, clients, and candidates.  These techniques aren’t foolproof, but they significantly increase the likelihood of finding out the other person’s real intent.  Here’s the 2nd truth tip:

Appeal to their nobler motives.” 

In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie notes that we tend to try to live up to others’ expectations and to our own high regard for ourselves.  He gives examples of how murderous gangsters consider themselves good, caring, decent men.  

In Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini takes a different tact on that concept, citing experiments that show how far people will go to be consistent in their self-images.  Like Carnegie, Cialdini gives examples showing that most of us consider ourselves “good” people & we strive to maintain that self image, at least in our own mind’s eye. 

So, as Carnegie advises, appeal to others’ nobler motives.  Make it clear that you perceive your prospects and clients as people of high character, people who can be counted on to do the right thing.  In many cases, they will live up to your expectations. 

By the way, it helps to clarify what “the right thing” is, just in case you & they have different definitions. 

I want to address another point about you telling the truth in these circumstances.  You may be thinking that it would be manipulative or duplicitous to tell people that you assume they’ll do the right thing if you don’t think they will.  I believe it’s fair to assume people will treat us fairly until they prove otherwise.  And, certainly, you should be cautious when you first encounter someone or when you haven’t dealt with them in depth.

My question is:  If you don’t believe someone is dealing fairly with you, why would you work with them?   If, in fact, clients or candidates purposely lie or act unethically, you have a decision to make about whether you’re willing to continue working with them .  

If you or your company are willing to do so, there’s another book you might want to read, called (pardon the coarseness) The No Asshole Rule, by Robert Sutton.  Maybe it’s time we take a stand against putting up with those types of people & companies.  I’m aware that dropping an unpleasant client or candidate can be a torturous decision.   And that is a topic for another time. 

More truth tips to come. . . .

Getting to the Truth – #1

In Philosophy, Sales, Sales people, Values on July 12, 2011 at 3:28 PM

We sales people love it when clients tell us what we want to hear.  Then doubt intrudes into our bliss.  Are they telling me the truth?  Will they do what they say they’ll do?  Am I getting ready to waste my time? 

While we can’t guarantee that our prospects and clients will give us the truth or even the relevant information, we can increase that likelihood.  Here’s the first of several tips for getting to the truth:

     Tell prospects and clients upfront what you expect.  Early and often, set your specific expectations for integrity and candor.  You could start out with something to the effect of, “I’ll tell you the truth.  I’ll let you know when something pertinent changes that is likely to affect you.  And I will expect the same from you.”
By the way, telling the truth is my personal and company policy as a recruiter and sales person. 
More truth tips to come.