Career Negotiation, Negotiation Research February 3, 2010

The Numbers Game

How good are you at math? Bob Sullivan, author of Stop Getting Ripped Off (http://stopgettingrippedoff.net/), argues that many Americans are terrible at math, and that is one of the reasons they get raw deals. Sullivan examines the data, and writes in his book that “more than half of U.S. consumers were categorized as having basic or below basic quantitative skills.” Sullivan calls this lack of mathematical skills innumeracy (like illiteracy).

Sullivan finds that even people with college degree have problems with certain mathematical skills. He writes: “most college graduates (and in fact, most adults who held advanced degrees, too), were unable to answer a question asking test-takers to calculate interest payments on a home equity loan. Only 1 in 5 test-takers of any stripe could handle the question, which simulated the most basic task a home-buyer faces when trying to select a mortgage.”

Math skills are crucial in any business negotiation. We aren’t talking about advanced calculus, we are talking about good arithmetic and algebra skills that can help you to understand the numbers you are being asked to negotiate on.

Negotiators who are dealing with price/cost and value issues need to be extremely careful with the numbers. What if the packaging changed on a product, and it is being offered at a better price. Are you able to figure out if you are still getting the same deal as before?

Although most negotiators are not accountants, it is important to be able to make the numbers add up correctly. It is easy to mess up under pressure or because you weren’t paying enough attention. Dr. Chester Karrass advises us to go slow and double-check all numbers to avoid making dumb (and costly) mistakes. If possible, have someone else check the numbers too. The person you are negotiating with is not necessarily going to point out a mistake.

Have you ever made a math mistake during a negotiation that cost you? Please share your numbers gone wrong stories.

THE PROGRAM WAS GREAT! MY SEMINAR LEADER AND THE STRUCTURE OF THE COURSE KEPT ME CONSTANTLY STIMULATED. I NOW AM BETTER PREPARED TO GO INTO AN IMPORTANT NEGOTIATION MEETING AND STAY IN CONTROL, WHILE FINISHING THE MEETING SATISFIED.

Deanna D.
CASE MANAGER at THE JACKSON LABORATORY

IF YOU HAVE THE TRAINING BUDGET AND TWO DAYS TO SPARE, YOU'LL STRUGGLE TO FIND A PROGRAM MORE FAR-REACHING, ON-POINT, AND INSTANTLY IMPLEMENTABLE.

Jeff G.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER at THE M.K. MORSE COMPANY

EXCELLENT COURSE, BRINGS MORE CONFIDENCE IN MY ABILITY TO NEGOTIATE. I THINK THIS COURSE IS A MUST FOR ALL EMPLOYEES WHO DEAL WITH CUSTOMERS.

John S.
CHIEF ENGINEERING MANAGER at EXXONMOBIL

THIS WAS VERY EFFECTIVE WITH A STRONG FOCUS ON BOTH-WIN NEGOTIATING.

Kathleen L.
SENIOR ANALYST at BLUE CROSS/BLUE SHIELD OF MICHIGAN

THE KARRASS CLASS WAS THE SINGLE BEST TRAINING CLASS/SEMINAR I HAVE EVER ATTENDED. EVERY TIME WE DID AN EXERCISE IT TAUGHT YOU WHAT TO DO DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME. THANKS.

Kim C.
PROCUREMENT at AMERICAN EXPRESS

THIS PROGRAM HAS GREATLY INCREASED MY CONFIDENCE AND ABILITY TO NEGOTIATE FOR MYSELF AS WELL AS MY COMPANY.

LaDonna E.
SENIOR STRATEGIC BUYER at HALLMARK

THE NEGOTIATING CLASS WAS VERY INFORMATIVE. THE INSTRUCTOR PROVIDED AN INSPIRATIONAL MESSAGE THAT CAN BE APPLIED TO EVERYDAY LIFE.

Mary S.
INTERNATIONAL SOURCING at FMC TECHNOLOGIES

WE NEGOTIATE EVERY DAY OF OUR LIVES, BOTH PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY. THIS COURSE DEFINES THE PROCESS AND PROVIDES TECHNIQUES TO ACHIEVE SUCCESSFUL RESULTS.

Phillip H.
VICE PRESIDENT at GE

PRIOR TO THIS CLASS I FELT AS THOUGH I WAS GETTING EATEN ALIVE BY INTERNAL NEGOTIATIONS WITH SALES REPS. NOW I FEEL PREPARED TO CHALLENGE WHAT THEY ARE SAYING AND BET TO THEIR REAL NEEDS.

Steve Q.
PLANNER at HONEYWELL

MANY PEOPLE FAIL TO ACHIEVE THEIR POTENTIAL BECAUSE THEY DON’T SEE THE OPPORTUNITIES TO NEGOTIATE A WIN/WIN AGREEMENT WITH THEIR COLLEAGUES. THIS CLASS IS AN EYE OPENER TO THIS DYNAMIC..

Stuart B.
CONTRACTS MANAGER at HEWLETT-PACKARD
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