“Always attempt to control those that attempt to control you. By doing so, you’ll have greater control.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert
“Be Aware of the Straw Man”
Are you aware when others invoke a straw man to maneuver you? Be alert to such actions. Those actions may leave you instilled in fear. Worse, they may leave you confused about why you engaged in an action.
A straw man has several meanings. It can refute a response that veers from the initial point while giving the appearance of addressing it. As an example, a supervisor might say to his boss, “The team worked a lot of overtime to get the project in on time. I think we should give them a 2% bonus.” The boss’ response, “That’s horrible thinking! If we gave a bonus every time they did their job, there would be no incentive for them to do anything.” The boss’ rebuttal, while appearing to respond to the supervisor, ignored the overtime the employees worked to get the project in on time. It ignored that they went above their normal duties.
A straw man can also refer to a person lacking in integrity or substance. An example of this might be, “As he felt backed into a corner, he said, you can do to me as you like, but my followers will make you pay for your deeds.” The reference to, ‘my followers’, was an attempt to conjure up a straw man that would seek retribution.
Suffice it to say, always attempt to control those that are attempting to control you. In so doing, you’ll be in a better position to maintain control of yourself … and everything will be right with the world.
What does this have to do with negotiations?
Who uses a straw man?
During a negotiation, a straw man can be invoked to foster a position to embolden its user. It might be employed to inject fear, reward, happiness, or retribution into the negotiation process. If stealthily employed, it can give the appearance of its user’s fingerprints not even being on the suggested deed (e.g. one negotiator to the other – they may harm both of us if we adopt that position). Thus, it can be one way to insulate one’s activities from any blowback. In this case, think of the straw man as being the image that one wants to cast that’s greater than the image of the one doing the casting.
Why are straw men used?
a straw man is yet another tactic used in a negotiation by savvy negotiators. Some stumble into its usage, not realizing the effect it can have on a negotiation.
When used deftly, this tactic can alter the course of a negotiation by distracting from the point at hand, altering the flow of the negotiation, and casting doubt in the mind of the negotiator that adopts a position.
In your future negotiations, take note when a straw man is attempted to be used against you. Also, consider when it might be beneficial to invoke your own straw man. Doing so will take your negotiation abilities to higher heights.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!
After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d really like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com
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