What do the NFL, NBA, and federal budget negotiations all have in common? Highly successful parties at the table, many of whom over their careers have developed significant egos.
Since we all have egos, why should you care? Because you should use certain techniques when negotiating with those who have especially large egos.
1. Find out if they have an outsized ego
Industry colleagues often know those with particularly large egos – so first do your due diligence and ask around. But don’t just rely on their reputations and others’ opinions. Also be particularly sensitive to these clues:
– An overwhelmingly competitive mindset and desire to “win” and “beat the other side” versus an interest in satisfying their business objectives and needs;
– An unusually prominent “ego wall” in their office that includes awards, certificates, and self-centered-type items (this is one reason it’s often helpful early on to meet at their office);
– A consistent desire to persuade you of the rightness of their positions;
– The need be perceived as in control; and
– Relatively ineffective listening skills.
2. Get them talking
Egocentric individuals like to talk – so let them. The more they talk, the more information you get about what they want and why. Since my First Golden Rule of Negotiation is Information is Power – So Get It, ask a lot of questions and pay close attention to their responses. They might very well inadvertently share critical information.
3. Be firm on leverage
Don’t hesitate to take a firm and principled stand based on strong leverage when dealing with those with big egos. Not only will they recognize the move – but they will respect your ability to compete in that way.
This may be particularly effective if your leverage largely derives from your ability to walk away from your deal (as opposed to leverage that may result from their inability to walk away from you).
4. Implement an aggressive offer-concession strategy
Those with big egos often evaluate whether they have “won” a negotiation by calculating how much more they got you to concede than they moved. This suggests they did better, right?
Wrong. You shouldn’t really care who is perceived as the winner or loser – all you should care about is the extent you accomplished your objectives. So design your offer-concession strategy to let them believe they won. How?
– Make your starting point more aggressive than usual, giving you the ability to achieve your goals andstill move more than your counterpart, and
– Plan to make multiple moves instead of a few big ones, pointing out all your concessions – thus highlighting the extent they “won” on a lot of issues (you also shouldn’t care how many times you move as long as you accomplish your objectives in the end).
Finally, plan to make the last concession, albeit a small one. It will increase the likelihood they will close the deal and it won’t cost you much. It will also ensure they walk away feeling they got a good deal, thus increasing the likelihood they will follow through on their commitments. This is of great long-term value to you.
Published October 7, 2011 The Arizona Repubic