Sometimes, You Have to Be the Bad Guy
My specialty, as a negotiation skills speaker and negotiation skills consultant often involve asking groups the following question:
“Do you think you’re the good guy or the bad guy?”
The usual answer from audience members in my negotiation skills speeches is, “I try to be the good guy. I guess it depends.”
Bad guys are not necessarily bad
Many executives, business and tradespeople believe that negotiation needs to be a contentious process, complete with fist-pounding and bravado. As an experienced negotiation skills speaker and negotiation skills trainer, I am here to tell you that is the last approach you ever want to take in a negotiation. We have all seen “negotiating tables” on television and in the movies where people might behave in that manner. They are paid actors reading from a script.
Some of the most effective negotiators I have ever coached are soft-spoken, deliberate and compassionate. Yes, compassionate. No one rationally wants a negotiation to blow-up especially one where there is business and money to be made.
“Bad guys” in a negotiation might be a vendor needing to raise the price of a raw ingredient; an architect explaining the escalating costs of a new addition; a builder re-negotiating the new wing of a hospital or an opera house needing to raise the price of an auditorium.
- Allow me to offer seven quick tips if you find yourself thrust into the role of being a “bad guy.”
State the truth clearly; for example, “Due to the conflict all of our grain prices have dramatically increased. Our margins are unchanged, but our costs have increased.”
- State the facts without apology. It isn’t that apologies are necessarily “weak,” it is that apologies cast doubt in your voice and your intention. In other words, what are you apologizing for if you’re being truthful?
- BUT never lie. If your costs haven’t increased, but you think you’re being clever, you will be found out. No matter the product or service, everyone has competition. Buyers know the costs of things. It is a matter of trust.
- Think of viable alternatives; “We can’t do this, but we can do that…” Ask for more time if you need to do so.
- Have a written agenda and practice the thoughts you want to convey. Don’t ramble, don’t talk about the weather.
- Put yourself into the mindset of the other party. A negotiation is always a two-way street. Rest assured that you as a buyer or seller, will one day, reverse positions with another buyer or seller.
- Be kind, not clingy. Whiny, clawing, clingy explanations are not a good look. Be understanding, be wise to the situation, but speak the truth and then let the dust of the truth settle.
As a negotiation teacher and speaker, I understand the fear of losing the sale that may come from being the “bad guy,” but obviously don’t forget you are in business as well. There are limits to flexibility. You are not a “bad guy” if there are things you can’t afford to do and if the other side is supportive of that fact, then the negotiation is not necessarily finished.
To contact Mike Hourigan, Negotiation Skills Motivational Speaker, Trainer and Consultant for an in-person or virtual presentation, please call. Contact Mike today at (704) 875-3030 or fill out the form below.