I thought of this after a meeting with a client. We were in dispute over a bill and as a result it was not paid. As we discussed this issue I knew I had the upper hand. The job was for a website we built and I could have easily just said, “Pay your bill buddy or the site gets shut off!” If I used this tactic, I would have quickly walked out with a check. However, this doesn’t take into account the other side’s feelings and understanding at the time. It would have most likely left the client feeling like they were strong-armed and taken advantage of. They probably would have started looking for another marketing company or at least started to speak ill of us to what could be our perspective clients. Add to this the damage that can be done with social media and you might start to see that this little victory could ultimately become a defeat.
As we talked, we uncovered a misunderstanding in our original agreement. He was a reasonable guy and we ended up coming to a conclusion we both agreed with. There was no need to threaten, no need to play the ace up my sleeve. It took a lot longer but we both left the meeting shaking hands and starting to plan the next step of our relationship together.
If negotiation is war, I had the ultimate weapon to win it. But after devastating my opponent I would not have won their hearts and minds. After the negotiation is over, you have no control over what the other party will do. Our military just ended a long tenure in Iraq because of this fact. We can argue over whether this war was a success, but did it cost us more then it could have if we used a different set of tactics?
So I guess my new years resolution is to try and think through things I do when dealing with other people. I will try to learn what the other person’s perception is and us that to forge an agreement instead of using any means at my disposal to get what I want. In the words of Dale Carnegie, “Learn to see things from the other person’s perspective.” Have a Safe and Happy New Year.