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In negotiation, there are many rules, one of them is…

Por: Dr. Roch, El 9 abril, 2024

When I started giving courses and lectures on the subject over 20 years ago, I realized that there are common mistakes among entrepreneurs, politicians, executives, and in general, anyone, which we could summarize in 10 golden rules to avoid making them.

In this series of articles, we will address, one by one, the 3 fundamental principles that must be observed in any negotiation, whether personal or professional, to make life easier and optimize results. As the saying goes, wisdom consists of learning from others’ mistakes.

Let’s start with the first one: for humans, perception is more important than reality. And this is something that we must keep in mind when negotiating, as effective negotiation involves managing others’ perceptions.

Imagine you’re buying a used car from an acquaintance. It’s a model you’ve always liked and you’ve heard that this person intends to sell it. You seize the opportunity and decide to make an offer:

  • I like your car – you say -. I’ll offer you 100 thousand pesos for it. If you accept, I’ll give you a check right now.
  • Okay. Deal.

You shake hands and hand over the check, as promised.

Would you be happy? After all, they accepted the price you offered. The answer is simple: NO.

Why? Probably the first thought that would cross your mind would be: “Darn. I should have offered 80 thousand”.

The fact is that you wouldn’t be happy simply because your acquaintance didn’t object. If they had said:

  • What do you think? My car is worth much more than that. I won’t sell it to you at that price.

You probably would have paid 10 or 20 thousand pesos more, and you would have been happy! Simply because, with negotiation, you would have had the perception of having achieved the best possible deal, as your counterpart defended their point.

Remember: it’s very important that your counterpart perceives their gains. It’s pointless to make concessions if they don’t perceive them as “gains” or if they perceive that they could have gotten more.

If your first offer is 10, and the second is 20, the message is “there’s more”. And vice versa, if you ask for 20 and then ask for 10, the message your counterpart perceives is “I can ask for even more to be lowered”. Offers and concessions should be progressively tighter. For example:

If your first offer is 100; the next should be 110; the third 115; the fourth 117; the fifth 117.50. This sends the message that you’re reaching your limit. The same goes for concessions.

It’s important that the counterpart’s perception is: “it was the best deal I could get”. Reality takes a back seat.

Also, remember that perception is closely linked to personal appearance. It’s seen, heard, smelled, touched.

Can it be touched? Naturally! We know that a handshake is not neutral. With reason or without, we draw conclusions, perhaps premature, about the energy, frankness, laziness of the other person; in it, we appreciate sympathy or disdain, honesty or caution, strength or weakness.

Can it be smelled? Of course! According to the natural or artificial smell of the other person, we form judgments: “They’re very careless!”, “It smells like onion soup!”, “It’s a cheap perfume!”, “It smells like a cheap dive!”, “They’re very refined!”, “What bad breath, they must not brush their teeth often!”.

It’s obvious that the ears and, above all, the eyes play a preponderant role in this field. Even before the new visitor has closed the door to your office, even before they’ve uttered a single word, you’ve already formed an opinion: I like/dislike, friendly/unfriendly, warm/cold, etc. It’s time to remember that “you never get a second chance to make a first good impression” and, therefore, to emphasize the importance of behavior and the image we project of ourselves.

These initial perceptions will condition the entire development of the negotiation and our chances of ending it as we wish.

We must also take care of our body language. Our habitual postures are beyond our consciousness. Only under strict orders (firm!) or for very precise reasons (sports or dance, for example) do we voluntarily adopt one posture or another.

Nervousness, confidence, apathy, attention, like/dislike… many data can be inferred just from body language.

Pay special attention and act accordingly if you have accurately interpreted that change, or try to understand what’s happening if you don’t understand it. Also, know that they will observe your own postures and they can betray you. Pay attention when modifying them and project an image of self-confidence, without provocations.

To conclude, I’ll give you a tactic where this golden rule can be seen in its full expression. It’s called Contrast.

Imagine one of your teenage children whom you ask one day:

  • Son, how was school?
  • Wow, Dad! I’ll have to repeat the year.

What would be your reaction? You would probably explode, reproaching such a result. For example: “Here I am, working hard to give you an education, and you, slacking off…” And so, launching into a disciplinary speech, your child interrupts you to tell you:

  • It’s not true, Dad! I only failed one subject! I have to take an extra exam.

You probably still want to be angry, but the truth is that you’ll be tremendously relieved. You have both scenarios in mind, and reality is much better.

Of course, you’ll talk to him and scold him, but much less than you would have done if the boy had told you from the beginning that he has to take an extra exam.

Used properly, this tactic can yield very good results; but remember: wait for your counterpart’s response first. Then, correct them in a joking tone. The good negotiator is a manipulator of perceptions. Leave me your comments and don’t forget to sign up for the Sales Master’s Degree where we delve into this topic and further develop your negotiation skills. I’m listening, thank you. – Dr. Roch


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