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Negotiation Strategy: "Here's Tit, Where's Tat"

A simple technique to increase the odds that you will get what you are asking for.

It leverages one of the basic rules of the social exchange: when you give something, you increase your social credit, and that makes it more likely that the other party will give back.

Here is an example:

negotiation technique text example

Quick analysis:

  • "All good here": this is a form of "credit collection". It reminds that I was an easy guest, never asked for anything during my stay and never bothered him with anything. That's worth something in the exchange
  • "LOVE this location": simple form of complimenting and making him feel good. If he's the owner, he'll appreciate
  • "Deserves a good review": can you guess what this one does?

This is a form of "positive display of leverage".

It accomplishes the same goal of a threat (a form of "negative display of leverage), but in a positive way. It serves to remind him that I can still leave a review after I check out, which gives him one more, very practical incentive to accommodate my request.

Also notice the wording.
I didn't say "great", I said "good".
Is "good" 4 stars, and not 5? Now he has an even bigger incentive to accomodate me to push that review up.

  • "Quick question": it frames my question for what I believe it truly is, a small favor I'm asking. I think it's nonsense when people ask for 4h or 5h to clean a studio that I've already left pretty clean (something I might have mentioned too, BTW!)

And I gained 2h more so I can avoid what I dread the most of any day: wating up to an early alarm :).

Would have I obtained the same without this technique and all these intricacies?
Maybe.
We don't know that.

But success in life is not about certitudes, but about increasing the odds of success.
Increase your odds in all the areas of your life, across your whole life, and chances are that you'll go very far.

When does it work?

This is perfectly suited for your "daily negotiations", or when you need smaller favors.

In case of bigger ticket items, it depends a lot on who are dealing with.

Experienced and hardened negotiators will not give you a $10k discount on the house if you bring a small trinket and pay them a compliment.

But it can stil work on bigger ticket items with:

  • less experienced folks
  • people who are not sure about the true value of what they are negotiating
  • people who are not sure about what they exactly want
  • people who don't really care about final price, but care more about people and personal bonds (and most people are like this, just at different level along the scale)

That's why buying lunch or dinner when you're negotiating the sale of a bigger item can be a great way of getting a big concessions.

When someone is negotiating a $400k deal and is teetering on the edge of that last $10k, inviting them for dinner and wine might as well turn into the biggest leveraged transaction of your life: $100 turned into a $10.000.

 

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Positive displays of leverage: warning

A quick warning on positive displays of leverage:

if you have a positive relationship, or if you're dealing with a fair and well-meaning person, it might be best to avoid them.

First of all, they are often unneeded if someone is already well-disposed to accomodated you, so they add no real value.

And even positive displays of leverage can sound like an annoying power move sometimes.
You wouldn't tell a friend "it deserves a positive review", right? If it's your friend, of course you are going to support him.

This is where a good feel of power dynamics overlaps with emotional intelligence: power and dominance can sour already good relationships. That's why you want to avoid power moves in already good relationships.

Why in this case it was well-suited

However, in this particular case, I had no relationship with this person, and he didn't seem well-meaning.

I knew it because he was unwilling to let me check in early, or even to say that "he'll try to".
And because I like to see what people are made of, I also checked and knew there was nobody on the day prior to my arrival, which means that an early check-in would have been easy for him.

Or, at least, he could have said "I'll try my best and let you know".

In this case, in my system of values, all the above were all fair game and he deserves a good review, but not a great one.

Oh, and final life strategy tip:

  • If you need to, only leave soso reviews after several days you've moved: you never know you forgot something in the place, or that you might need something. And after you've already left a soso review you have no leverage, plus an ill-disposed person, both making it unlikely that you'll manage to arrange a meet

 

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?