The Negotiator Magazine

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There are some responses to escalation other than swallowing your pride or walking away. You might try these:

Planted Information
Returning from a speaking engagement, I was discussing that day's Presidential press conference with my seatmate. "I don't believe he's telling us the truth," he told me. "I met a man who knew someone who works at the White House, and he told me that the President did know all about it all along. He's covering something up." What amazed me about this was that I found myself believing what this man was telling me, rather than believing what I had earlier heard the President of the United States say at the press conference. Why? Because we always tend to believe information that we have obtained surreptitiously.

Planted information can be an astoundingly powerful influencer.
A salesman is making an impressive presentation to a board of directors. Flip charts and audio visual aids surround him. He is fervently making a plea that they go with his company because it offers the best value in the marketplace. He believes that no competitor can undercut his prices and feels confident that he can close the sale at his asking price of $820,000-until he sees one of the directors pass a note to another director who nods and lays the note on the table in front of him. Curiosity gets the better of the salesman. He has to see what's on that note. He finishes his presentation, then approaches the table, and dramatically leans toward them.

"Gentlemen, do you have any questions?" Out of the corner of his eye, he can now see the note. Even reading upside down, he can see that it says, "Universal's price is $762,000. Let's go with them."

The chairman of the board says, "I do have one question. Your price seems high. We're obligated to go with the lowest price that meets our specifications. Is $820,000 the best you can do?" Within minutes, the salesman has lowered his price by $58,000.

Was the note real or was it Planted Information? Although it was just an unsubstantiated note scrawled on a piece of paper, the salesperson believed it because he obtained the information surreptitiously. Even if they had planted it, could the salesperson cry foul later? No, because they didn't tell him that the competition's bid was $762,000. He obtained the information surreptitiously, and he must accept responsibility for his assumptions.

Simply knowing about planted information will help you to diffuse this unethical tactic. Any time that you are negotiating only based on information that the other side has chosen to tell you, you are extremely vulnerable to manipulation. When the other side may have planted the information for you to discover, you should be even more vigilant.

The best advice I can give you about unethical negotiating tactics is the same advice as I would give you if you planned to walk down an alley in a third world country:

Published in FPG's March 2002 Issue

Roger Dawson, CSP, CPAE is one of North America's top negotiating experts and a leading sales and management speaker. He is the author of "Secrets of Power Negotiating" which is one of the biggest selling audiocassette programs ever published. His latest book "Power Negotiating for Salespeople" is now in bookstores and a must read for Realtors®. Copyright© 2002, Roger Dawson. All rights reserved. For information about Roger's Keynote presentations and training sessions, please contact The Frog Pond Group at 800-704-FROG (3764) or email;

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