Negotiation Tip of the Week
“Foolishness is open to perception. Thus, if acting like a fool achieves your goals over another, is the fool the one that doesn’t act foolishly?” – Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert
“Is Negotiating More Like a Fool Really Foolish”
When negotiating, do you sometimes act foolishly? If so, are you embarrassed when that occurs?
Smart negotiators know they must employ sneaky ploys at times. Such includes acting foolishly if a situation is warranted.
The following are several scenarios in which you might invoke foolishness.
- Altering or changing the dynamics of the negotiation:
In any negotiation, you must be mindful of how any strategy you employ will play out. That means, you should have backups of your strategies (e.g. I’m not sure why I said/did that! Let’s get back on track (used when you did not get the response from the other negotiator that you sought). At a minimum, at that point, you’ve infused the negotiation with something for the opposing negotiator to think about. Thus, the ploy could have been implemented to alter his demeanor. If that was the case and his perspective was altered per the goal you sought to achieve, your ploy was successful.
- Altering the perspective of the other negotiator:
Have you ever talked to yourself? Everyone has done so at some point in time. A better question is, do you answer the questions you pose to yourself? It may sound silly, silly is as silly does, but you can openly talk to yourself during a negotiation by posing hypothetical questions out loud to discern the reaction you get from the other negotiator.
I did this once in a negotiation and after a while, the other negotiator started addressing my hypothetical questions. That gave me insight into two facts. One, I was leading him (When you lead someone in a negotiation, they acquiesce to your suggestions). Two, he was giving me insight as to how he would respond if the questions weren’t hypothetical.
- Acting the Clown:
I recall one negotiation I was in that had become very dire. Neither I nor the other negotiator wanted to make additional concessions because both of us thought that would give way to the other negotiator gaining the upper hand. At one point, I stated, somewhat loud, let’s get silly! With that, I bent under the table and put on a red clown nose. When I reappeared, the other negotiator burst out laughing. After that, we reengaged in the negotiation with him saying, “If you’re not afraid of being silly, you can’t be that bad.” Whenever that gentleman and I see one another, we still laugh about that time.
What can you do to break the monotony when you reach impasses in your negotiations? Seriously, it’s something you should consider before entering into a negotiation. By considering such, you can be prepared with the props needed/required to alter the pace of the negotiation and the mindset of the other negotiator. After all, people that are perceived as having a sense of humor are also perceived to be more human, more down to earth.
When engaged in a negotiation, especially one that may be fraught with tension and anxiety, consider how you can alter the negotiation to alter the environment. Acting foolish is one way that you can do it. If used at the right time, you’ll change the dynamics of the negotiation which could lead to a more successful negotiation outcome … and everything will be right with the world.
What are your takeaways? I’d really like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com
Remember, you’re always negotiating.