Negotiating Tip: Put It In Print
Sometimes our most powerful negotiating influence is overlooked or ignored. It seems to occur when we assume that our negotiating opponent has the same focus that we do. That's rarely the case and we have to be ever mindful to employ the power of the printed word.
Negotiating Tip: Put It In Print
Whether we're initiating a negotiation event or in the middle of
hard bargaining, we'd be wise to remember the tremendous influence
of reducing our positions to the printed or written word.
If you have ever spend any time with me in my seminar,
What's Mine Is Mine, What's Yours Is Negotiable", you've heard me
advocate the use of the Power of Legitimacy. That's the power that
comes from putting things in print, reducing things to writing or
giving our opponent a 'hard copy' of something important.
That Power of Legitimacy has forever proven effective when we want
people to understand better, retain longer and be influenced more
effectively. We've long held to the old saying, "In one ear and
out the other". What we hear we forget or at least don't fully
retain or understand.
When something is presented to us in print, we activate two senses
and thereby comprehend more effectively. In a negotiating
environment, the Power of Legitimacy or putting things in writing
serve another important purpose. Our opponent cannot claim that
they misheard our position nor can our opponent change our proposal
unless they write something down too.
In the role of a parent we often ask our kids to do something.
Time after time we are disappointed by their lack of compliance.
The excuse of "I didn't understand" or "I forgot" or "I didn't know
you meant that" is offered. Changing the request to one given
verbally AND in writing can make all the difference.
The ability to see the request in writing confirms the instructions
provides a visual reminder and quickly clarifies a dispute over
what was expected. It is employing the power of putting things in
I can recall most vividly my Dad, a dairy farmer, using the power
of putting things in writing when he would be bargaining with a
cattle buyer, a feed store manager or an equipment dealer.
He always seemed to find it effective to have everyone looking at
the final proposals in writing. He didn't waste the technique in
the early stages when each side was far apart and each was testing
the motivation of the other. But when the bargaining reached the
final stages he would write the critical items being negotiated
on a piece of paper, a nearby board or even scratch it in the dirt.
After one successful negotiation, I asked Dad why he did that. He
replied that it was something his Dad always did and he added,
"When people are looking at the numbers they don't have to maintain
eye contact." Reflecting on this last 'eye contact' comment, I
realized he had struck on something I'd always missed. Face to
face bargaining seems to bring out an unintended pressure point,
"First to look away, loses". While it is not true, there is some
posturing that comes into play.
If we can encourage our opponent to concentrate on the numbers or
proposal they are more likely to find a way to make those numbers
or that proposal work. At worst their counter offer would likely
be more accommodating.
So the obvious question is, how can you use the Power of Legitimacy
or the technique of putting final proposals in writing be applied
in your world of negotiation?
Maybe it is asking a vendor to write down their (best) price on a
sales slip so you could stare at it, question it and even write
down your counter proposal.
Perhaps it is having a check already made out to that vendor in an
amount you'd find acceptable but below what they are asking.
Could it be that you write down your 'best offer' on a slip of
paper and hand it to your negotiating opponent?
Any of these will cause the other party to concentrate on the
numbers, not you. Better yet, that action clearly communicates and
clarifies your position. And finally, it seems to prompt
reflection and careful analysis on the part of your opponent.
You might want to add one more technique to the mix. It is one my
Dad used to initiate the writing process. He claimed he wanted to
write the numbers down so HE COULD LOOK at them. In doing so he
tactfully had his opponent looking at, pointing at and considering
those written numbers too.
Remember, people respond more to what they see than what they hear.
Good negotiators use both the spoken word and the written word to
add influence and power to their negotiations.
Above all KEEP Negotiating!
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