I just watched this interview with the author of “Never Split the Difference.” It’s a book about negotiation techniques. The author is a former FBI hostage negotiator. I found it quite intriguing. My head was spinning just trying to keep up with the conversation. Afterwards, I was left with very mixed feelings. It seemed to me that my desire to learn more about these techniques was rooted in greed and a sense of wanting to learn in order to win or manipulate. Whatever the feeling, I am not comfortable with it; it was not a pure feeling. I have a different idea about communication, one having to do with connection, more along the lines of Steven Covey, ” Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood,” and Dale Carnegie, and the Communication Course. Maybe I misread the author (without having read the book). Maybe my aversion to learning negotiating techniques is related to my resistance to A is A. I am curious to know the truth value of the material and the intention behind it.
(Robert Green has books with a similar flavor, The Art of Seduction, and The 48 Laws of Power. I have read that people are a bit squeamish to read about the Art of Seduction, for instance, because they are afraid of learning how to be manipulative. Robert Green says he is just presenting a reflection of reality. )
So, Today’s Monday Morning Memo is about…what? Persuasion…getting someone to see a new perspective…”This will cause the other person to feel like they already knew the thing that seemingly just occurred to you.” Is it manipulation? I’m at a loss to characterize just what he’s doing, or suggesting. Yes…inch your way into a state of agreement with the other person, or inch them toward agreement with you.Is that enrollment, or sleight of hand? Again, it brings up mixed feelings.
Negotiating is a very important skill. I am not particularly good at it: I have never worked on it. But it is still important. I just, personally shy away from it… I am more interested in producing results I want to produce.
But in coaching I often encounter the situation that the client is of a fixed mindset, and that the conversation won’t go any nice place, unless I do something that is not instinctual.
And the technique I use is very similar to what this week’s Monday Morning Memo talks about 1
I call it alignment. I talk about it in this article…
The art is to disengage the combative, self-protective nature of people.
Combative is not always loud, one can be passive aggressive, one can simply refuse to give an inch, one can simply pretend to be in agreement.
The way you do that, as Roy H. Williams illustrates it in his memo, is to find something you can agree about. And express that you agree… and then from there… when the other is in his comfortable place of being right will be able to hear you.
Now, I am not good at this.
In fact even though I have a high TLB, it is not 100%. My best guess is that this question, the ability to be OK in the presence of dissent, disagreement, differences of opinion, different world views, arguments, I am not well there.
Even though I know where they have made a wrong turn, I am not able to debate, argue, or negotiate. I’d rather die. And I often die, withdraw, licking my wounds.
Why? I am not sure. It is what it is. My results are consistent with this disability… or weakness.
For example, this particular ex student never agreed with me on anything… and in the end I had to let him go…
Very interesting that he is asking this exact question…
One last thing: you always happiest when you are true to your standards, to your principles, and to who you are.
I am happiest when I have win-win, without an argument.
OK… this story explains the orange picture above:
Imagine that two women are fighting bitterly about who gets to have the last orange in the grocery store (Depending on my mood, I like to imagine that this story either takes place in a dystopian futurescape or in a romantic French village 150 years ago. In either case, oranges are rare).
Each woman lists the many reasons why she is the more deserving recipient of the orange:
“I have a family to feed!”
“My children haven’t tasted fruit in months!”
“Oranges are my husband’s favorite fruit and it is his birthday!”
And so on.
After some minutes of this argument, one of the women shouts,
“If I don’t get the orange I don’t know how I am supposed to flavor my muffins!”
The other woman rebuts, “Well, how am I supposed to make juice?!”
Suddenly the two women stop fighting. They realize that they don’t actually want the same thing at all. One of the women needs the rind for baking, while the other wants the fruit for juicing. They are able to split the cost of the orange and each take the part she needs.
Source of story: http://www.amybucherphd.com/negotiation-non-zero-sum-orange/
- Every few months, I remind my partners of something that took me way too long to learn.
I say, “When a person believes in what they’re doing – even if it’s an imperfect plan – let them keep doing it. Give them advice and try to open their eyes, but don’t fight them too hard, because, ‘A person convinced against their will, remains unconvinced, still.’ So be careful. If you finally convince a person to quit doing what they believe in, and to start doing what you would do if you owned their company, they’re probably going to fail.”
People who have spent time with me may find this difficult to believe, but I’m a lot less combative than I used to be.
Here is the non-combative technique I use.
- Listen attentively to the person with whom you disagree.
- Let them speak until they’re finished.
- Find a point of agreement, something you can honestly endorse.
- Tell them why you agree with them. And if they have altered your opinion in any way, confess that to them, as well.
- Use the point you agree upon to introduce another point which you feel might expand and enrich their perspective.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not talking about introducing “alternative facts.”
I’m talking about introducing your idea as a logical extension of the idea about which you have already agreed.
This will cause the other person to feel like they already knew the thing that seemingly just occurred to you.
In essence, you’ll be giving them an entirely new perspective while reinforcing what they already believe.
Bottom line: Try to avoid telling people they are wrong. You’ll make more progress and achieve more change if you can figure out a way to tell them they are right.
Here’s a recent example:
An air conditioning client was convinced that we should target the perfect customer profile by using “addressable TV” ads. This would allow us to target specific households individually – rather than as a demographic, geographic, or psychographic group – by using data provided by broadcaster set-top boxes (STBs) and over-the-top (OTT) streaming devices like Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku, or Amazon Firestick.
The CEO of the air conditioning company said, “Why should we pay to reach people who live in apartments, or who rent their houses from landlords, or who have a home warranty contract with a company other than ours? Wouldn’t it make more sense to target ONLY those homeowners living in houses old enough to need a new air conditioner, and who don’t have a home warranty?”
“I love that idea!” I said, “And we’ve already got some great TV ads we could air!” I gave him a high five, then asked, “How much did they say it will cost us?”
“They said it will be extremely efficient since we’ll be aiming a rifle with a scope instead of using a shotgun like we’re doing now.”
“I don’t doubt that a bit,” I said, “but we do need to find out how much they’re going to charge us per 1,000 households they deliver (CPM.) We’re currently paying a cost-per-thousand (CPM) of $3 on broadcast radio. Now I’m DEFINITELY willing to pay more than $3 per thousand to reach the PERFECT customer rather than the unfiltered, mixed-bag, untargeted customers we’re currently reaching, but how many untargeted customers is one PERFECTLY TARGETED customer worth? Is it 4-to-one? 7-to-one? Are we willing to trade 10 untargeted customers for 1 targeted customer? How many are we willing to trade? I think at some point there’s going to be at least one perfect customer in our current, unfiltered assortment of broadcast TV viewers and broadcast radio listeners, don’t you think? And then we get all those other people for free. But I still think this “addressable TV” thing is a great idea. So call and tell them exactly who you want to target and ask for the cost-per-thousand.”
After he checked into it, he learned that the cheapest we might possibly pay was 12x to 16x our current cost-per-thousand, but with the layers of targeting he wanted to add, we would be trading at least 26 broadcast radio listeners for every 1 “perfectly targeted” homeowner.
After thinking it over, he decided we were already reaching more than 1 “perfectly targeted” homeowner in every group of 26 unfiltered, mixed bag, untargeted radio listeners.
My point is this: I didn’t have to argue. I didn’t have to debate. And my client, the CEO of that business, was treated like a CEO.
I’m just the consultant who agreed with him.