The Negotiator Magazine

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I said, "That's ridiculous."
Without cracking a smile, she said, "I'm not through. With a fine set of sheets like this, you obviously would never sleep alone, so we're really talking only 38 cents per day, per person." Now that's really breaking it down to the ridiculous.

Here are some other examples of funny money:
1. Interest rates expressed as a percentage rather than a dollar amount.
2. The amount of the monthly payments being emphasized rather than the true cost of the item.
3. Cost per brick, tile, or square foot rather than the total cost of materials.
4. An hourly increase in pay per person rather than the annual cost of the increase to the company.
5. Insurance premiums as a monthly amount rather than an annual cost.
6. The price of land expressed as the monthly payment.

Businesses know that if you're not having to pull real money out of your purse or pocket, you're inclined to spend more. It's why casinos the world over have you convert your real money to gaming chips. It's why restaurants are happy to let you use a credit card although they have to pay a percentage to the credit card company. When I worked for a department store chain, we were constantly pushing our clerks to sign up customers for one of our credit cards because we knew that credit card customers will spend more and they will also buy better quality merchandise than a cash customer. Our motivation wasn't entirely financial in pushing credit cards. We also knew that because credit card customers would buy better quality merchandise, it would satisfy them more, and they would be more pleased with their purchases.

So, when you're negotiating break the investment down to the ridiculous because it does sound like less money, but learn to think in real money terms. Don't let people use the Funny Money Gambit on you.

Concentrate on the Issues
Power Negotiators know that they should always concentrate on the issues and not be distracted by the actions of the other negotiators. Have you ever watched tennis on television and seen a highly emotional star like John McEnroe jumping up and down at the other end of the court. You wonder to yourself, "How on Earth can anybody play tennis against somebody like that? It's such a game of concentration, it doesn't seem fair."

The answer is that good tennis players understand that only one thing affects the outcome of the game of tennis. That's the movement of the ball across the net. What the other player is doing doesn't affect the outcome of the game at all, as long as you know what the ball is doing. So in that way, tennis players learn to concentrate on the ball, not on the other person.

When you're negotiating, the ball is the movement of the goal concessions across the negotiating table. It's the only thing that affects the outcome of the game; but it's so easy to be thrown off by what the other people are doing, isn't it?

I remember once wanting to buy a large real estate project in Signal Hill, California that comprised eighteen four-unit buildings. I knew that I had to get the price far below the $1.8 million that the sellers were asking for the property, which was owned free and clear by a large group of real estate investors. A real estate agent had brought it to my attention, so I felt obligated to let him present the first offer, reserving the right to go back and negotiate directly with the sellers if he wasn't able to get my $1.2 million offer accepted.

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