Business Negotiation July 15, 2015

Increasing Positive Impact

Another approach to increasing the positive impact of what you say is repetition: standing firmly behind your argument or offer for a reasonable period of time. Few things wither a negotiator’s position in the eyes of the other side as much as being seen as a person who quickly jumps from one view to another in the face of pressure...

Another approach to increasing the positive impact of what you say is repetition: standing firmly behind your argument or offer for a reasonable period of time. Few things wither a negotiator’s position in the eyes of the other side as much as being seen as a person who quickly jumps from one view to another in the face of pressure. There is little question that the combination of repetition and perseverance serve to add a measure of conviction and resolve to a negotiator’s words and actions.

Zhou Enlai, the famous diplomat and negotiator under Chairman Mao Zedong, Communist Premier of China, was not one to take another person’s offer or “No” for an answer. For almost three long years during the Vietnam War, Zhou Enlai repeated his offers day after day. His steadfastness led the less patient Americans to believe that his position was truly firm, and that concessions, if any, would be few and slow in coming. When he did make some concessions, albeit small ones, it was welcomed and celebrated as a major victory.

In a similar vein, Michael Eisner, for many years CEO of the ever-innovative Disney organization, used persistence and repetition as a filter to assess new ideas presented by his creative staff. He would deliberately reject the idea or ask that it be resubmitted later after considerable improvement. Creative artists and producers who had the passion and conviction to resubmit their proposals after multiple rejections were felt by Mr. Eisner to be worthy of another serious look. Repetition and persistence work like that if backed by good argument.

A final suggestion is that you learn to ask for something in return when making an offer or concession because it adds utility to any movement you make. It allows you to retreat from your concession if the other refuses to grant what was asked for. It permits you to do so without loss of face or power. Later, if you choose to drop the string attached to the concession, it will add extra value and satisfaction to what you then decide to concede.
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