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AMACOM, How to Negotiate Like a Child - Unleash the Little Monster Within to Get Everything You W

AMACOM, How to Negotiate Like a Child - Unleash the Little Monster Within to Get Everything You W

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Published by tano caridi

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Published by: tano caridi on Dec 20, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Here’s something my kids like to do to drive each other crazy. My
older daughter says something like, ‘‘It’s my turn to play on the

My younger daughter responds by parroting back those exact
words: ‘‘It’s my turn to play on the computer.’’
‘‘No, it’s not. It’s my turn,’’ says Karen.
‘‘No, it’s not. It’s MY turn,’’ echoes Claire.
‘‘Stop repeating what I say,’’ Karen sputters in frustration.
‘‘Stop repeating what I say,’’ Claire predictably spits back at


This exchange can go on for some time, until either a parent
comes along and makes the repeater knock it off . . . or until the
one whose words are being parroted gets sick of the game and flees
to find some other activity, relinquishing the computer altogether
so it is free for game-playing by her parrot-mouthed sister.
Is there an adult business application of this extremely juvenile
technique? Yes, but it can’t be copied at such a primitive level. If all
you do is repeat the other side’s statements, they’ll think you’re a

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lunatic and quickly conclude they can’t do business with you at all.
Translated into an adult negotiating technique, the purpose is not
to drive your adversary insane and risk a punch in the mouth; the
purpose is to use the other side’s own words to emphasize those
places where you are in agreement. This technique can help to
move stalled negotiations forward, especially if you have detailed
minutes or a transcript of a previous discussion at your disposal.
Look over the notes or records carefully. Pull out those sentences
and phrases that you can echo as your own, to show that you have
enough of a common vision to keep moving forward. Rather than
attempting to make the other side give up in frustration (which is
usually the goal when a child of mine is at this game), you are trying
to achieve just the opposite: to bring two widely separated positions
closer together.

Let’s say you’re negotiating over a profit-sharing arrangement.
The other side has made the point that the partner taking the
greater risk should reap the largest share of the profits. You can
agree to this position in principle, even as you continue to disagree
about how risk is calculated. What you can do here is repeat that
your side, too, believes that risk must be rewarded proportionately.
But then you need to concentrate on the various types of risks that
each side assumes. If you are convinced that the other side is trying
to assume a greater share of the profits than is fair, point out those
risks that your side is taking—less obvious risks, perhaps, that have
not been given proper weight in the negotiations thus far—that
deserve consideration. Now you are no longer divided over a matter
of fundamental fairness, but are simply haggling over percentages.
You can move forward from there.
Another technique that kids bring to this strategy is to change
the emphasis over the words that they parrot back. Lawyers use this
technique in court to great effect. In answer to a question, a witness
says, ‘‘I saw the car dart across the intersection, and I braked, but

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I couldn’t avoid hitting it.’’ The lawyer repeats the words back,
emphasizing the words, ‘‘And I braked,’’ to imply that the witness
didn’t start braking as he approached the intersection; he started
braking only after he saw the other car. In other words, the other
car was already in the intersection and had the right of way; it was
his fault for noticing that too late.
One more little twist you can bring to the echo game: Change
a word or a few words and see what effect you can get from it. If
you want to see some great examples of this technique in action,
watch some old episodes of Perry Mason from the 1950s and 1960s.
The witness would swear, ‘‘I never asked him whether he changed
his will. . . .’’ And Perry Mason would echo back, ‘‘You never
asked . . .’’ and then go on to add the new words, in his most
intimidating voice: ‘‘But isn’t it true that you saw the new will? You
never asked . . .’’ (Big dramatic pause) ‘‘. . . because you already
knew . . .’’

And in the show, of course, the witness is forced to echo the
words, ‘‘Yes, yes, okay . . . I knew.’’*

* Results from this technique may vary widely. I cannot promise that it will work for
you as well as it does for characters on TV shows.

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