Players demand things the other party neither has nor controls
This is one of the most effective negotiating techniques available to the skilled player so long as the demand is not too far-fetched or outrageous. Even then, the experienced player can go further than you may first think.
Bryan is negotiating with his boss about whether Bryan stays with the company or accepts a lucrative offer from a competitor.
Bryan says, “Money is not all there is to this. I will have to get just a few concessions to stay. I feel a lot of loyalty to this company. I need a larger office and a secretary and well, having a nicer company car would help things at home. I will need to sell Carol, my wife, on turning this other deal down. Here’s the main thing. I have to have the freedom to go with project ideas without going through all the hassle and committees to get something off the ground. You know it takes more time and energy around here to get an idea through the system than it does to try it. I have to have a free hand in my area.”
His boss reacts, “Even I don’t have that kind of latitude. I couldn’t give that to you even if I thought it was reasonable and I’m not sure I do. We need some checks on what happens around here. Get real Bryan! Let’s talk about the other things, but the kind of latitude you are asking for is out of the question.”
Note the boss’s use of the “flinch” technique. Someone might think he is actually shocked by Bryan’s request for a no prior approval deal.
Bryan waits a long time before continuing. He then says, “We can talk about the other things and see how it goes with them. But you need to understand that creative freedom is a high priority for me. It has to come back on the table at some point.”
Note the use of the “set aside” technique by Bryan. “Creative freedom” is set aside for now.
With a noticeably more eager approach, Bryan’s boss says, “I can handle that. Let’s get into the office and car issues and see if we can make you happy.” With a little laugh, he adds, “How would Carol like a new Buick?”
Way to go Bryan! What is a little creative freedom when compared to a bigger office, a new car, and a few other things your boss may just throw in to keep you off your outrageous demand kick? Who knows? He may even throw in a little more creative freedom just to close the deal.
The boss falls into the trap. He does not deal with the outrageous demand as one demand on a list of equal demands. Instead, he puts it on one side of the ledger as a “not over my dead body” issue. The other demands then seem minor and reasonable in comparison.
Better would have been for the boss to say, “Let’s make a list of your demands: a new car, a bigger office, more creative freedom, . . . .”
Notice that the outrageous demand only makes third place. Also it changes from “complete freedom” to “more freedom.” If Bryan objects, the Boss can focus attention on what should go on the list and how they should be stated. As a skilled manager, the boss keeps focus on the list and not on any single demand.
Players demand things the other party has but cannot concede
Using this technique is in the same league as demanding something the other party does not have. In fact, it is a little better in some ways. Suppose in the example above, Bryan’s boss has the authority to give him a complete waiver of pre-approval requirements. His bind is that he has already refused to give that kind of latitude to a couple of other people who have been with the company longer than Bryan. If he gives it to Bryan, he will be in an impossible predicament. Two of the others appealed his decision to his boss. Bryan’s boss has taken a lot of heat and would be hard put to make it through that again. If he meets Bryan’s demand, he is likely to lose the power battle that the other employees will start.
This time, Bryan says, “Your trust and confidence in me will be a big part of my final decision. Creative freedom is more than just a perk or something trivial like offices and cars. It gets at our working relationship, our friendship. It is that simple. Either you trust me or you don’t. All you have to do is say yes or no.”
Smooth move Bryan! You now have control. Your boss now has to prove to you he is a sincere guy who trusts you. It may be good for at least a few more options on Carol’s Buick.
Bryan has used a spurious argument and the boss must not play. He has equated “creative freedom” and “trust.” Whether he is trusted or not, the skilled manager stops that process cold.
The boss can say, “Give me a break. I’m surprised you would try such a cheap shot. You know as well as I do the project approval process is a matter of company policy. It serves to let all departments comment on how the project will work with their operations. You are too sophisticated to pull that emotional stuff with me. Let’s talk about what the real issues are.”
The boss has obviously been there before. Calling Bryan’s creative freedom the “project approval process” is just the right touch. Also, he uses Bryan’s own trick on him. Now Bryan has to back off a little or tacitly admit to not being sophisticated. It appears that the boss is back in control.
Players do not concern themselves with the cost to them of having their demands met
Countering this technique is particularly dangerous for all but the expert manager. Suppose Bryan’s boss decides to cave-in and give Bryan exactly what he demands?
His Boss says, “Bryan, you are one in a thousand and you know it. I just can’t afford to lose you, especially not to the competition. There will be no pre-approval requirements.”
Without a further thought, Bryan accepts the offer saying, “Get it written up and I will sign it.”
Bryan does not concern himself about the contract’s tying all salary increases and some new performance penalties to the success of his projects – the cost of having his demands met. He is up to the arrangement whatever the cost. Instead of pursuing truly creative but risky projects, he moves to a modified game of B-t-B. Never mind what he might have accomplished had he hit on one of those more risky ideas he now so carefully avoids. Bryan’s priority is to take care of Bryan, to take no chances.
The skilled manager first needs to see that his responsibility is to the welfare and well-being of the company. This means two questions must be answered before making any offer. Is the arrangement being offered to the employee in the company’s best interest? The deal made with Bryan likely is not. Next, is it consistent with the existing arrangements with other employees? It is important that it is not and does not appear like a “sweet deal” for one person only. The problems that causes with other employees are almost never worth it. The boss will pay dearly for the sweet deal made with Bryan, sooner or later.
A skilled manager sees the equally important issue as well. He always asks, “Will this work to the employee’s advantage over time? Will it increase his productivity, satisfaction, and over-all success?”
Unless the answers to these questions are Yes, do not make the offer, even though the employee may accept it. The arrangement made with Bryan eliminates the possibility of his being as successful as he potentially may be. One of these days, he will figure that out and will again become restless and discontent. The sweet deal will not hold up over time. Bryan will eventually figure out that the cost to him is too high.
Players over-value those points on which they and the other party might agree
Watch how the boss tries to use this technique on Bryan. Bryan makes the same pitch. Instead of responding to the “creative freedom” issue, his boss says, “I respect and appreciate your sense of loyalty to the company and value your dedication over the years. There is a glitch or two, but I can and will give you almost everything you want. We have worked together long enough; we think alike. Any time we agree on 95 percent of the issues, a contract is easy.”
Bryan’s boss then lists the areas of agreement and says, “It looks to me like we have a contract. Isn’t that the way you see it?”
Not this time, boss! Bryan will not be taken in with that old ploy. The game is to give the impression that all that remains are a few loose ends.
Bryan says, “I wish I could set aside the creative freedom issue, but it is too important to brush aside. It may be the only thing we do need to talk about.”
The boss tries to make it seem like they have a deal, but Bryan knows that he needs to press on what he has not yet gotten. Acknowledging too much convergence – points of agreement – is a quick way to loose out, as Bryan knows. He is not someone who can be seduced so easily.
The boss tries again, making everything dependent on everything else. This means the negotiation starts afresh.
The boss says, “I would have liked to work some of these things out first and then deal with others later. We can go with your approach, though, if you are most comfortable with it. I can give you most (Not 95 percent any more.) of what you want. Working this out with you is important to me. Also, I can give you any single item under certain conditions. Let’s talk about each item and about what will be important conditions. Which item do you want to start with?”
Players do not think areas of difference or disagreement are particularly important
This is a clever technique. In essence, the ploy means it does not matter if the player and the other party agree on anything at any point in time. It is always possible to find something.
“Well, I guess we can at least agree we don’t seem to agree on much. That is a place to start. Let’s list our points of disagreement to see if we can agree on what all goes on the list. Can we agree on that as a place to start?”
At a more advanced level, no acknowledgement at all is made of any divergence – points of disagreement. For example, Joyce Allen is a nurse at a sixty bed convalescent home for the elderly. She and another nurse are responsible for the guests on one wing of the home. Their problem is how to best divide the duties to be sure all guests receive proper care.
The other nurse says, “We have some serious problems here. Our philosophies of care and work patterns are worlds apart and causing more work for both of us. We need to come to some compromise about these disagreements so we can both do our work.”
Acting a little surprised, Joyce says, “It’s not a big deal. We are both nurses and want quality care for our patients. At the core, we both know how to do our jobs and have to keep our patients as our primary concern.”
Her associate then mentions a couple of things she sees as problematic. Joyce just smiles and says, “Hey, we stumble over each other a little, but that is to be expected. It does not bother me. In fact, it gets a little humorous at times. We’re both good nurses and need to keep our senses of humor and keep on being professional about how we deal with our patients, as we both always do. The problems are just one of those things.”
Joyce is a master at driving people up the wall and is going to continue her previous behavior. Perhaps, her associate will get frustrated and quit. That can give Joyce a new person to start her play with all over again.
A skilled manager sees through the game. The idea is never to deal with the problems. This enables the player to avoid any effort or energy required to adjust or accommodate. You can see the absence of reciprocal accommodation.
For the player, the goal is to have others adjust to him. If they do not, it is of no concern or interest to the player.
Here is one way to deal with the problem. Use a well-worded response like this: “It is unfortunate you think serious professional issues are humorous. I doubt our patients (Use the clinical term.) see their care as a joke. There are other ways to deal with quality of care issues like this, but I prefer to resolve them directly with you. Would you prefer that approach or more formal procedures?” – At least, the player must now take the differences more seriously.
Players take positions on which they are intransigent, positions that are their bottom lines
This is a technique only used by organizational high rollers. It is a crapshoot with what the player believes to be loaded dice.
Suppose the other nurse says to Joyce, “This may not seem like a big deal to you. For me, it is a matter of principle (a typical reason for hanging tough). I am going to have to see some changes . . ..”
Notice the unspoken threat. The unsaid threat is, “If I don’t see some changes, I will do something you will not like.”
The task for Joyce is to weigh the cost of changing her behavior against the likelihood and cost of the other person’s following through with the threat. Joyce has come up against another skilled player. The trick for the other nurse is to be sure she can make the stakes high enough. If Joyce is not immediately intimidated, a good play might be for her to say to Joyce, “I’m serious, Joyce. This is a bottom line issue for me. I don’t think either of us would relish taking this through peer review but . . ..” Perhaps even a player like Joyce may give a little over this one. If she does not, the other nurse need only raise the stakes next time. The best thing is that she need never follow through. She need only use the technique sparingly and with sincerity and a high level of credibility. The only need is for Joyce to believe.
In this example, the play is all power: capitulate to me or I will find a bigger stick to hit you with. There is no backup or negotiating position.
The task for the skilled manager is first to refrain from reacting emotionally. The response must be reasoned. An appropriate response is, “You seem to be threatening me. I hear you saying to do things your way or you will figure out a way to sabotage my work and perhaps my career. Your lack of professionalism is amazing.”
Pick neither fight nor flight. Pick the strategies of the skilled manager.
Players think people negotiate based on shared goals and values
This is a useful technique used by beginners since most people buy in up-front. In other words, most people believe that when people are negotiating, they have the same goals and values. The negotiations are, they think, over details or specific provisions.
The teachers and the school board are in contract negotiations. The Board’s negotiator says, “In this case, it is not like most negotiations. Here, we are all on the same side. We all want the same things–the best possible education for the children. We want a secure situation for the teachers and a sound financial environment for the board; but most of all, we want what is best for the children.”
Later in the process, you can hear her saying, “If the board’s financial position becomes unstable, we all suffer; but most importantly, the children suffer. Avoiding harm to the children is something to which I know we are all committed, aren’t we?”
It is easy to get a feel for the ploy. First, the player establishes the shared value–the welfare of the children. In other situations, this could be patriotism, motherhood, or maybe even apple pie. The point no one will raise because it might be read as unprofessional is that the negotiations have nothing to do with the welfare of the children. They are negotiating about the welfare of the board and the welfare of the teachers. So long as the player can keep the focus on the children as a shared goal and value, though, she has a lever. Any time things get rough, she can say, “Let’s get back to what we all agree is important here–the welfare of the children.”
Probably no one will say, “Get off it! We are talking about dental coverage and not about the goodness of children. Our people need and deserve a $50 deductible here and are insulted by this $100 stuff you keep pushing.”
When push comes to shove, people will do the polite and professional thing. The player is counting on it.
The skilled manager uses two approaches here. They are not complex but depend on being able to spot and understand the game. First, call the player on the game. You might say, “Let’s stop for a second to think through a little point. We all agree we are here to do the professional and ethical thing. The children and their education are of high value. Using references to that important issue here, though, does not serve us well and is insulting. Let us not debate who cares the most. We all care.”
Next say, “Having agreed that the children are important, let’s not use them. Can we all agree that we will not use the “who-cares-the-most” tactic to make our points or to counter the points of the other side? Can we agree to keep our attention on the important issues before us?”
What happens if the who-cares-the-most ploy is again used? Sit back, smile, and use the words of one of our past presidents, “There you go again.”
Players are likely to devalue their hands
This is a Little-Red-Ridinghood and The Big-Bad-Wolf technique. Little Red Ridinghood is the player in the scene. Look at how it works.
Little R-R puts herself out there in the woods where no one but big-bad-wolves should ever go alone. Any 1990s woods walker with half a brain would go prepared and ready to deal with wolves, big, bad, or not. Not R-R, though. She just strolls along, counting on her ability as a player.
As expected, B-B-Wolf walks up to R-R and says, “I am going to have you for lunch!”
R-R says, “Oh please sir! I am a poor little thing and am on my way to see my grandmother who is on her death bed. Please do not take advantage of me.”
Being a polite wolf who wants to do the right thing, B-B says, “I do not want to take advantage of a weak little thing like you. I will give you safe passage this time. Please do not go out in the woods by yourself any more.”
Sure, R-R will follow B-B’s advice, at least until the next time she gets caught out by herself.
You see R-R and B-B in many situations. Negotiations are a frequent background for the scene. It comes in little and large, direct and indirect ways. The player asks for special consideration, concessions, unusual privileges or exemption from the normal consequences. This should happen because of the player’s being new, inexperienced, not as skilled, or outclassed. Whatever the excuse, the message is, “You should not abuse or take advantage of me.” Sure, it is a new application for “Poor-Me.”
How does the skilled manager deal with the R-R syndrome? It is easy to take the position that “it is a jungle out there,” and anyone who cannot take care of himself is out of luck. The problem is that there are those who get into negotiations without the skills or experience needed to participate on an equal footing.
The skilled manager first determines whether the other person is up to the negotiation. If not, he suggests – and at times insists – that the other party brings in a qualified negotiator before the process continues. At a minimum, he avoids knowingly taking advantage of the other person.
B-B-Wolf has the right idea. He refrains from the kill and sends R-R on her way, suggesting that she better come prepared next time. If she does not, B-B-Wolf needs to develop more effective ways to get R-R to take care of herself. Whatever the outcome, B-B-W will not be the one to take advantage of her, no matter how tempting.
The skilled manager makes sure there is a real inability or disadvantage, though. Careful attention is given to assuring it is not a game run by an expert Poor-Me player.
Players agree to conditions or considerations they cannot honor
Use of this technique makes negotiations much easier for the player than they might otherwise be. The trick is to only use the technique for things that do not have to be delivered up front. The play is for things coming later like complete performance on the contract.
Consider further the teacher/board negotiations. Suppose the board has two general concerns. First, the test scores for the school are below average when compared to national averages. Second, the board wants to have some way of assuring its teachers are competent.
The board negotiator says, “We want the second and third year salary increases contingent on an improvement in test scores. We also want to institute competence testing for all teachers in the system.”
The teachers’ negotiator says, “These are both worthy goals and are in the interest of the welfare of our students. We support and applaud this kind of forward thinking. We are pleased to put them on the table here, today.”
It is such a good idea that the teachers’ negotiator takes credit for it–for the welfare of the children, you may assume.
Note how the teachers’ negotiator makes test scores and competence of the teachers a goal and not an ironclad guarantee. Having made the semantic switch, he says, “We will agree to anything reasonable in these areas. We are ready to agree today to form a board/teacher task force to establish the guidelines and specific rules to reach these worthy goals. It would be the charge of the task force to have its final report within six months for inclusion, by mutual agreement at that time, into this contract. Can we agree to sign off on this today to assure quality education for our children?”
If the board’s negotiator says, “Then you are agreeing to have the second and third year increases contingent on the task force findings?” The player goes for round two.
He says, “The teachers agree. Of course, just as the board cannot predict what the findings will be, neither can the teachers. We need a contract by the end of the week, so the teachers want a penalty provision or waiver if the task force does not get its job satisfactorily completed.”
Note the use of the “drop dead” technique: a contract by the end of the week.
Rounds three and four may be even more interesting. The key is that the player agrees to anything, so long as it does not have to be done today. Agreement is even quicker, so long as it never becomes an up-front condition for something else. It is a “nice-work-if-you-never-have-to-do-it” kind of thing.
Players press to get all their demands met
This is a “wear them out” technique and is only for those with unusual patience and endurance. For the player with these qualities, however, the technique is powerful.
The teachers’ negotiator puts the end of the week as a drop dead point in the negotiations. Suppose the board’s negotiator says, “If we have to have this wrapped up by the end of the week, I commit to having meals delivered. We can stay here around the clock until we get this worked out. We can form the task force right now and call in anyone who needs to be here. We can stay at it until we get what we need for both the test scores and the competency rules. At the same time, we can come to closure on the rest of the board’s needs. The board cannot let go of this until we have an agreement on each point.”
Notice how she circles back to pick up the board’s interests and demands. No matter how much agreement develops, the board’s negotiator keeps everything on the table. Her hope is that sooner or later the board will get most everything it wants.
The real trick is that the board will get a few things just because the other side becomes bored, exhausted, frustrated, or too tired to think things through completely. If the board’s negotiator presses long enough and hard enough, she likely ends up with more than would have otherwise been the case.
The best thing for the board is that the teachers cannot just walk out. At any point, the specific issue on the table is not a deal breaker. If the teachers walk out, the board probably calls a press conference and tells the world that the teachers broke off negotiations over a minor issue. “They must not want to work this out. The board is only concerned about the welfare of the children and cannot understand where the teachers’ priorities are.” Also, keep in mind that whoever walks out is in a one-down position and is, to some extent, seen as the unreasonable bad guy.
The key here for the skilled manager is to keep the negotiating process in perspective. A variant of the above technique is used by players who want to rush the negotiating process. These players push to handle things quickly and casually. You hear them saying things like, “Let’s go ahead and sign off on this now. We can work out the details later. We all understand what the deal is here.” This “rush it through” technique usually comes up near the end of the negotiating process when people are tired and becoming impatient. The skilled manager needs only to understand a few facts of negotiating life to avoid being either worn out or rushed.
Negotiations always take at least twice as long as planned
Limit the length of any session ahead of time or it will likely go to the point of exhaustion
Eighty percent of the real movement will come in the last 20 percent of the process and 15 percent will come in the last 5 percent
The closer you are to closure, the more alert and sharp you need to be
Take care not to get ambushed at the finish line
Players expect to get more than they give
This technique is second nature to many players and to most people. People go into negotiations with winning in mind. It may be that it is the American way–getting the best end of the deal.
With the teachers and school board, the usual assumption is that the teachers are trying to get as much as possible without taking on any additional requirements. From the other point of view, the usual assumption is that the board is trying to get more control. It wants to impose additional requirements at the least possible increase in cost. In this environment, each side has the goal of getting the other side to reduce its demands without having to increase what it gives. Success is getting as much as possible for as little as possible. The goal is to get a good deal.
What if one side does not press to win the negotiation? The teachers’ negotiator comes close to breaking out of the traditional mold with, “We will agree to anything reasonable in these areas. We are ready to agree today . . ..”
Suppose that he takes an additional step. “Our priority is to be sure the board is completely comfortable with the final agreement. We need as much improvement for the teachers as can be worked out, but this is not our priority. We share the welfare of the children as a goal with the board and do not want to do anything to jeopardize the board’s capacity in this area. The need, from the teachers’ point of view, is to maximize the outcome for the board, for the teachers, and for the children. How can the teachers assure that the board is fully satisfied, comfortable with any agreement we make?”
As an experienced player, the board’s negotiator will resist any efforts to move the process in this direction. Her response is, “Give us a break! The board wants to get the best range of services and mix of teachers it can get for the dollars available. The teachers want to get the best working environment and compensation package they can get. Let’s not play word games with each other.”
She keeps the game in the board’s court, following the board’s definition of successful negotiations. The issue is and will remain one of how much each side gets and how little it will have to give.
For the skilled manager, the goal is not to win. Rather, it is to assure that you receive the maximum value consistent with the consideration given. You, of course, do not want to give more than you get, but neither do you want to get more than you give. The constant question for you needs to be, “Is the other party getting as good a deal as I am?” Conversely, “Am I getting a similarly good deal?”
Along with being the right thing to do, this approach is in your simple self-interest. If you give too much and get too little, it may seem expedient but will not set well with you over time. Also, it only encourages the other party to push for an even better deal next time.
If you get too much and give too little, the outcome is reversed. The other party will resent it and will be much less willing to do business with you tomorrow. Being sure you both get equally good deals is your best way to assure future business, to foster productive relationships, and to safeguard your reputation.
Players give the impression they are giving away the store
On the surface, this technique seems like an ineffective ploy. It boils down to seeming to give away too much while not getting enough. But the skilled player makes it work to his advantage.
To understand the deception, you must first understand the standard negotiating rule. The rule says to set upper and lower limits before going into the negotiating session. The upper limit is the most that will be given away and the lower limit is the least you must get. You do not go over the upper limit or under the lower limit in the session. If necessary, you try for another session or pass up the deal before violating the rule. This is what most people understand is meant when someone says, “That is my bottom line.”
Eric Grossman is a contractor who is trying to get a contract to build a small office building for a regional magazine. He and the potential lessee are in agreement on the plans for the building and have settled on everything except the monthly payments.
After about an hour of discussions, Eric says, “I just cannot make this work for $3,000 a month. It will take at least $3,600; and even then, I will just break even. At $3,000, I will be losing money. It just won’t work.”
The magazine’s CEO is noticeably disappointed. She says, “We have gone up from $2,400. We also have lowered our space requirements more than works real well for us. We run a financially tight operation anyway and $3,000 puts us a little out on a limb. I guess it is close but no cigar.”
Both parties have reached their bottom lines. You may think that they might as well shake hands and call it a day.
That is what is happening when Eric says, “This is a shame. I just hate this. There has to be some way to make this work for you. I just feel awful about this.”
He is in the doorway when he turns and says, “This has to work. I have an idea. It is just an idea. I can use the tax loss for a couple of years, if you can come up a little over the years of the lease. My accountant won’t speak to me for a year. (Note the good guy, bad guy ploy.) I have to make this work for you.”
Does that tug your heart strings or what? Eric is willing to lose money just to make it work. It probably comes from his charitable nature. At a minimum, he is about to give away the store. It is a wonder an altruistic player like Eric did not go broke years ago.
The management of these players is simple. If the deal seems too good to be true, or if a deal about to go sour suddenly revives, something is rotten in Denmark – as the bard cautions.
As a skilled manager, you know that if the deal is too good you:
Do not understand what you are actually getting
Do not understand the true value of what you are getting, or
Do not understand how much you are giving or its value
If the deal suddenly revives, it is easier to know exactly what is going on. The other party is being dishonest with you. They tried to make you think that you had received their best offer when it was not true. Their attempt was to pressure you into an agreement. When that strategy did not succeed, they went for the next round. They do not want to work out an agreement that benefits both of you equally. They want to win. Continue the negotiation if it is in your interest, but be careful and maintain a healthy level of skepticism.
In the example, it might be fun to resume the negotiation with Eric by saying, “Thank you for trying. I would never want to put you into that kind of position. You pay your accountant for good advice. It is probably best to follow it. Either we both get equally good deals, or I will need to pass. That is the only way I do business. It has to work well for both of us. Will what you are suggesting work well for you? Would that be a comfortable arrangement? If so, we can discuss it.”
Just keep in mind that people seldom give away the store; but should they try, the skilled manager declines their suspect offer.
Players do not assume any responsibility for assuring the other party gets a good deal
This is a hit-and-run technique best suited to players who specialize in onetime sales and services. In that context, it is an effective way of maximizing profits and minimizing the expenditure of resources. The trick is to avoid its use with regular customers or anyone who might talk to a potential customer.
A nationally known law firm is doing some work for the CIL Corporation. Through its work, it is aware of some management/organizational problems within the CIL Corp. Through inside contacts and as a result of several meetings, the law firm develops a $125,000 contract for management consultation to the corporation. The contract is loose and talks mostly about the consultation process and the fees for specific activities and reports. The contract does not specifically address the outcome of the consultation. Keep in mind that the law firm writes the contract and provides the services.
The outcome is that the corporation is totally disrupted, and many normal procedures are changed. In addition, several people within the corporation are singled out as the basis of the internal problems.
The consultants come to the conclusion that the difficulties can be reduced to two points: First, some procedures need to be changed and others need to be tightened up. Second, the CIL Corp. is told that it has a personnel problem. The final report of the consultants goes on for a hundred pages to say no more than this.
Going in, the corporation knows that it has a lot of internal squabbling and tension, and that some of its procedures need to be changed. For $125,000 the law firm verifies these perceptions.
The consultants are asked for recommendations about the personnel problems and written examples of better procedures. They say, “It is not part of the consultant’s role to become involved in the day-to-day operations of your company. Our role is to give you an overview of the problems and to help define the issues. We have done this in accord with our contract. If you do not choose to use our report or do not have the expertise to use it effectively that is not our responsibility.”
The law firm takes its money and runs, leaving the CIL Corp. in a worse condition than it was before receiving the consultation services. Can you hear the consultants talking with each other?
“That company is in a mess. It is no wonder, the way they throw around their money. They thought they could spend $125,000 and fix their problems. I thought that was what they were expecting when they signed the contract. Getting into things when they don’t know what they are doing is the biggest part of their problems. Oh well, business is business.”
There is only one message here for you. Along with giving your customers what they request, it is also important to give them what they need. If you do not understand what is really needed from your customer’s point of view, this will not be possible. Perhaps the first question should be, “What do you expect to achieve through these negotiations? What are your interests, your real needs?”
Your last question is, “Does this do the job for you? Let’s talk about that in terms of what your interests and real needs were going in. This is not a onetime thing. I do not do business that way. May we spend a few minutes to be sure I am getting the job done for you?”