By Manny Roman
In a previous life, I conducted a short session covering defensive win-win negotiations. I discussed tactics that your “adversary” could and would use against you. Then, I would discuss the counters to these tactics and the counters to the counters. All of this stuff can easily be found on the Internet now and in many great books. As I mentioned, I did this quite a while ago and although I believe that we are always negotiating, I have exiled most of this stuff to a short area of long-term memory.
I am no longer consciously prepared to recognize and respond to all the tactics and maneuvers that are being employed to my disadvantage. Only when I perceive harm do I recollect appropriate counters, otherwise I happily comply without much thought. Until recently.
I became aware that one specific and very effective tactic has been implemented beautifully on me for quite some time. A well-implemented add-on is almost imperceptible as a tactic and compliance seems like a natural progression of the situation. Let me provide an example.
A long time ago I had a boat called StuckIn that I needed to sell. StuckIn had proven to be a real problem since I was always getting stuck in the shallows, in the weeds and even while trailering it through a drive-through restaurant. I found a willing buyer and we negotiated a reasonable price. He filled out the check, including the signature line and halted in deep thought at the amount line. He looked at me and said, “It does have a full tank of gas, correct?” I did not know what to do. The check was almost completed and the tank was almost depleted. He got another fifty dollars from me. This is the “after the handshake add-on” implemented beautifully.
Another add-on is the “after the contract” when they add insurance, extended warranties, detailing, etc. to a car you just bought. You are exhausted and happy from the test drive and all the negotiation tactics that are used and then this all comes up. How can you not give in for just a few bucks more?
Add-ons are especially effective after a series of agreements are reached. You have become accustomed to saying “Yes” to a series of reasonable and non-threatening requests. This is how the add-on tactic is being used on me. And the culprit is my loving wife, Ruth.
She will begin the process with something like an invitation to get lunch at a favorite restaurant. I agree and we get in the car. As we pull out of the garage, she will inform me that we need to stop at the post office. I agree and as we approach the post office, she informs me that we are in need of a quick stop at the grocery store for eggs and milk. I agree and as we enter the grocery store, she reveals the list of 200 items we need to purchase today before lunch. The plan was always to get me to the grocery store. By making it an add-on I have little choice but to continue to agree.
In a real negotiation situation the counter would be to predict in advance what the add-ons will be and prepare to deal with them. I should have anticipated the possibility of the full tank question and replied that he just negotiated a great price on a boat with an awesome name. He should not also expect me to fill the tank and if he wishes to revisit the negotiations, we can do that. It is advisable to retain walk-away power. That means to know when the negotiation has reached a point at which you will walk away. Know yours and theirs as well.
I am now reacquainted with the fact that we are always negotiating – even for small things. We are always engaged in a give and take situation which we wish to be a win-win outcome. We need to be aware of the tactics that will be implemented and how to counter them in order to achieve the win-win. Add-ons are just some of the tactics. Research the others. The consequence of a win-lose may be resentment and animosity by the loser.
I now find it fun to conduct the sparring contest that results from the negotiation for the real and final add-on that Ruth desires. She, of course, disagrees that it is fun even though, in the end, she wins.
Manny Roman, CRES