Care About Their Reality When Negotiating

In Herb Cohen’s excellent book “Negotiate This! By Caring, But Not T-H-A-T Much” he states, “Beyond a doubt all human being perceive, discover, and create their realities according to the maps or paradigms they have in their minds.” This is a fundamental principle that we create our “own realities.” This is why the actual facts of a situation are often not as important as what is perceived. Perception is often reality to most people.

Because of this, it is natural for a person to ascribe their own beliefs and values to the people they negotiate with. People will tend to believe their concerns and aspirations during a negotiation will be the same as the other party’s. While it is natural to do this, we must guard against this inclination because this often inaccurate projection will lead to negotiation problems that may have easily been avoided, or at least minimized, by recognizing the problem and opening communications with the opposing negotiator.

So what do you do to keep from imposing your beliefs, values, concerns, and aspirations to those with whom you negotiate? Ask questions! During the negotiations, especially during the beginning stages, you want to elicit concerns, interests, preferences, and needs from the other side. You do this by asking questions. Ask them even if you think you know the answer. You might be surprised, and it is only through asking and listening to the answers that are provided that you can actually determine what the other side’s “reality” is. Then you can determine if it matches yours, is completely opposite, or somewhere in the middle.

While you are finding this information out, you also have the opportunity to build a better relationship with those you are negotiating with. This relationship building will help you negotiate better results for both sides. You can help build this relationship by actually caring about their positions and needs. You communicate this to them by showing them, and this means displaying empathy and understanding. This is achieved through active listening. Look at them when they talk; smile and nod when appropriate; ask clarifying questions. Most of all, really care! After all, they have something you want and you have something they want. If you didn’t, you would not be negotiating with each other. Therefore, you really should care about them and not just yourself. Care about them and realize their reality is not the same as yours and you will go much further in you negotiations.

Presentation Versus Communication

It is pretty hard to find anything traditional with the internet as it has really only been in common use for about 13 years. However, there are certain sales traditions that the old door to door salesman would use to increase their chances of a sale. A quick presentation and throw in some wow this works great, close the sale and off to the next home.

Some of you may even remember the door to door salesman, this was basically doing a cold call door to door through out a neighborhood day after day. The profitable ones would get repeat calls and referrals because of a good presentation, communication wasn’t an expectation or option due to the lack of technology. Remember there were no cell phones, email, websites etc…

Now the customer has the advantage through information, as they no longer have to take the word of the salesman in their house with the quick home presentation. Now they can look at something and simply type the product or service into Google and get all the feedback they need to decide if it’s what they want.

Don’t get me wrong, presentation is still important, but trust and communication are more important. With the technology we have in place, the customer should be given plenty of options within your presentation to reach you and ask questions because good communication can repair a bad presentation. Ultimately the goal is to have both, but how would you know you have a good presentation if there is no communication?

Debt Negotiators – Usually a Bad Idea

Debt negotiators are often a bad idea for average consumers that are in financial trouble. There are scores of people in debt so the industry is wide open for a good debt negotiator. This can lead to problems and scams.

The debt negotiation industry was started in the 1950s when consumer and credit card debt greatly expanded. In the 1970s, consumer debt was reaching record levels and by the 1990s, credit counseling services, debt negotiators, consolidation loans and other services were being offered.

Banks, finance companies, private businesses and other entities were investing into these schemes. When the United States economy weakened after September 11, 2001, many of the businesses dropped off leaving the customer in peril.

One of the main reasons for the economic mayhem around the world was attributed to the credit crisis. Interest rate had been at record lows making it easy to offer better terms on loans, credit cards, mortgages and other contracts.

Refinancing and restructuring became commonplace for folks burdened by arrears. Debt reduction is an attractive alternative to bankruptcy. All of a sudden, the financial institutions decimated the credit markets and nobody could get money. Now, there are very few consolidation loans to be had and obtaining working capital has been difficult.

This is a problem with debt negotiation. Because of the macro economic mayhem, obtaining helpful consolidation loans is nearly impossible and further limits consumers making bankruptcy inevitable. Another drawback to debt negotiation is that sometimes companies that administer debt management plans do not follow through with the financial lenders and the customer is left hanging.

Often, they wind up in worse shape they had been before the debt restructuring. There were many stories on the national news in the 1990s where debt negotiators advertised, consumers signed contracts to restructure the debt but the debt management companies took money but did not pay the creditors leaving the consumer with a trashed credit file. There have been more regulatory actions to thwart this but many people have been damaged from this.

Debt negotiation is bad for the financial company also. Obviously, they are not getting all the money from the original contract, but the customer is not serviced very well. The initial business plan for the individual customer has not followed the proper course and the relationship is severely damaged or completely lost.

Many financial institutions are just realizing that a failed contract that leads to collection or legal action leaves a path of destruction to the business reputation.

The best thing for the credit card company or lending institution is for the customer to obtain the credit, pay it on time with very little lateness and avoid issues. The best thing for the borrower is to NOT use the credit for anything except for purchasing a home (on good terms) buying a car, or going through college on student loans.

They should only go into debt for an education if absolutely necessary! There are many grants, scholarships and work/study programs to pay for schooling. People should learn to conserve resources and protect them. Credit is only a resource and when abused, will lead to financial ruin that will cause hardship.