Tyler Gitou was listening to Rose, a member of the other party’s deal team, respond to a proposal Tyler had just made. He asked a question to clarify a point, got the answer, and then nodded his head.
“You’re right, Rose,” he said. “When I look at the issue from your perspective, what you have proposed makes a lot more sense and we can make it work. We will agree to your proposal.”
The teams took a short break. Verdi, a young member of Tyler’s team, approached him in the hall.
“Mr. Gitou,” Verdi said. “I don’t understand it. You are the Deal Whisperer, the master negotiator. Why did you cave in on that point so quickly? You did not get anything in return for that concession!”
“That’s an excellent question, Verdi,” Tyler said. “From the balcony it must have looked like I gave something away. What I was actually doing was allowing myself to be influenced.”
“You see Verdi, in negotiations each party is trying to influence the other party to agree with his or her proposal,” Tyler said. “We both will bolster our views with points, presumably legitimate, that should help the other side make a decision. What we want is an environment where the parties agree on which decision is better for both of them, not just better for one.”
“I get that,” Verdi said. “But even if they are right, shouldn’t you always get something in return for agreeing?”
“No,” Tyler said. “When the other side has the better argument on the issue, the best thing to do is concede the weakness of your own position and accept their point of view. In doing so, you build credibility and trust with the other party. More importantly, you demonstrate that you can be influenced. We cannot be so bound to our positions that we won’t change our mind even if logic dictates we should. That is the behavior of a classic positional negotiator. ‘You can’t make me move off my ridiculous position no matter how illegitimate it is unless you make a concession.’”
“Wow,” Verdi said. “That’s some complex psychology going on there.”
“Actually it’s not,” Tyler said. “It’s a pretty fundamental principle: to build a collaborative negotiation environment, have the confidence to admit when the other party is right. If you want to influence someone, you must demonstrate that you yourself can be influenced.”