First, You Have to Stimulate an Emotionanl Response

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Topics: Negotiating

     By Jack Miller

     Watch TV for an evening, or read the retail advertisements in your daily paper and you'll see that most of the presentation is designed to elicit an emotional rather than a rational response. The tools of the trade from the standpoint of the vendor is to create a sense of urgency in the other party. See how many of the following ploys you recognize. (1) A certain product will no longer be available once the inventory has been sold. (2) The sale ends tomorrow. (3) For the next 3 days, a car dealer will sell below costs in order to become number one in sales regardless of profits. (4) The new models will be 10% more expensive. (5) I can get zero FHA points if we can lock in a deal today. (6) There's another buyer who is going to make an offer tonight. 

     Of course, the vendee isn't without his or her own emotional resources. (1) I'm tempted, but I'd like to check things out with my attorney when he gets back to town. I'd go ahead and buy before he gets back if you could make me a good deal. (2) How old is this house? Can you guarantee that there is no lead paint problem? (3) My lawyer says that it's against the law to discriminate against pets and children. (4) If you don't repair the plumbing, I'm going to call the health department. (5) I'm willing to pay a little extra if you'd give me a 5 year lease; and count 43% of my rents toward a purchase Option.

     Imagine yourself on the receiving end of those comments. Can you see how advertising is being used to suspend our disbelief by evoking an emotional response? From a technical standpoint, all a good negotiator tries to do is to create two ends of a seesaw. On one end is pleasure and on the other is pain. Bringing happiness and satisfaction to someone when we make a deal moves us toward pleasure. Disappointing others, or causing a tantrum moves us toward pain. Thus, we make concessions to reduce our pain and increase our pleasure. In the same way, having a customer become outraged at the price moves a salesman toward pain. Lowering the price moves him toward pleasure. Any intimidation moves people toward pain and away from pleasure.

     Negotiation plays a part in just about everything that we do. Applying for a job, asking for a date, talking our way out of a traffic ticket, getting the use of the family car, applying for a zoning variance, renting a house, running a committee, getting a teacher to change a grade from F to D-; all these involve negotiation. Negotiation is one of the reasons that so many legal disputes are settled without a trial. Loss of money isn't all that's at stake. There's loss of reputation, loss of 'face', and loss of career potential. If you want to see a bureaucrat turn pale, in any disagreement, ask for his full name, and that of his boss. Fear of the loss of a job is a powerful influence upon people. I once had a bank President deliver an assignment of a note to my home because I'd gone over his head to the Chairman of the Board when he'd refused to sell it to me. The prospect of having his boss displeased with him was all it took to have him cave in and give me what I wanted.

     There's another lesson to be learned here. Anytime you want to negotiate, do it with someone who has the authority to say YES to a proposal. Avoid negotiating with an underling who dares not to risk his job by making an unauthorized decision. Everybody can say NO. Those with the power to make decisions often insulate themselves from direct negotiation because they aren't very good at it. That's why it's critical that you discover who has the authority to say yes. This can take a lot of doing, but the rewards are often well worth the effort.

     On the other hand, I've also had a fair amount of success dealing with low-level people like Radar O'Reilly in M.A.S.H. He got a lot of things done by knowing how to get around the system using his own network. Making an ally out of a personal secretary or assistant branch manager, or ambitious salesman can pay big rewards. Being seen as a person who can help someone's career is also a powerful negotiating tool.

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