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November 26, 2018

Negotiating Tip 34: The Easy Advantage

You can ignore my advice, but you can’t deny the results.

If you look at pictures of business people of a decade or so ago, you would notice a big difference in dress and attire.  To say we've 'gone casual' would be an understatement.  I'll admit that I'm personally uncomfortable with today's business attire.  I'm probably the odd man out in this trend, but I've found a silver lining.

That silver lining is that's it's really easy to dress more professional, more conservative and more powerful than it has ever been.  You're probably with me on the 'professional' and 'conservative' descriptions, but what about the 'powerful' adjective.  Let's discuss that very aspect of our dress

It's no surprise when I state that "how we look, appear or dress" forms the vast majority of our first impression.  People see what we look like and draw instant conclusions and form instant perceptions.   Among them are how confident we are, how wealthy we are, what profession we might be in, how educated we are and how we will be to deal with.   

So what's that got to do with negotiating, getting our way and achieving 'good deal' results?  Fasten your seatbelts, here it comes.

Like it or not, the results we can achieve during a negotiation are influenced by the impressions/perceptions our opponent has of us. 

If they see us as unprofessional, less skilled, less educated, less informed and of a lower standing, they'll be more aggressive and more resolved to hold out for what they want when negotiating with us.  The contrary is also true.  If our dress and attire send a message of success, confidence and even slight superiority, our opponent is more likely to grant concessions.

When you are about to enter into a negotiating circumstance (a meeting, a trip to a car dealer, an encounter with a vendor or a planning discussion) be the better dressed.  We can typically predict the attire and appearance of our opponent.  For us to match or, better yet, exceed their level of attire is easy to achieve.  Don't go to their level.  Set and achieve your own - even at the risk of comments by our peers.

Will attire alone win the day for a negotiator?  Of course not!  It will, however, influence proceedings, impressions, respect levels, credibility and even concession patterns.

In this world of dressing down, casual and even sloppy attire, a negotiator can gain that imperceptible edge with that easy point of difference  - their personal attire.  Don't be the one to shrug off the importance of attire. 

Good negotiators routinely appear more professional than their opponents.

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