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Lesson Two — Negotiating 101

Luke : Mom, can I borrow the car tonight?

Mom : Where are you going?

Luke : To the movies.

Mom : Whom are you going with?

Luke : Mark, Russ, Paul, Lefty, and Tara.

Mom : What are you going to see?

Luke : Rocky Fifteen. So, can I go?

Mom : No.

Luke : Why not?

Mom : Because.

Luke : Why not?

Mom : Because I said so.

Luke : That’s not a reason.

Mom : Yes it is.

Luke : Come on Mom.

Mom : No.

Luke : Why not?

Mom : Because.

As you can see, this really isn’t getting Luke very far along.The only thing that can happen now is that the same dialogue will continue, only louder.

Let’s suppose Luke started offering to do chores, but that didn’t work either. Offered to get a job, but that didn’t work. Offered to do better in school, but that didn’t work. Frankly, all this is a waste of time unless Luke knows why his mother is saying, no. Luke needs to find out what she wants. But, what is it? She turned down the chores, the job, and grades. What else is there?

In order to get your way you must be a smart negotiator. In order to be a smart negotiator, you cannot really start negotiating until you know what the other person wants. In order to find out what the other person wants, you must be a good listener. If we look back at the dialogue, you will notice that Luke’s mother did not say no right away. She asked what Luke wanted the car for. She did not say no when she found out he wanted to go to the movies, nor did she say no when she found out who was going. In fact, she did not say no until she found out what the movie was. If Luke had read our book first, the next thing Luke would have done after getting the “no” is to try to find out why.

“No” is what we call an objection. There are other objections, but “no” is the most common. One of the most important parts of the negotiating process is the technique of overcoming objections. So, how does Luke overcome this objection? Let’s see.

Luke : Mom, are you saying you don’t like my friends, or you don’t like the movie we

want to see?

Mom : I don’t want you watching that trash.[Bingo!]

Luke : Have you ever seen it?

Mom : No, and I don’t want to see it.

Luke : Do you even know what it’s about?

Mom : No, and I don’t care.

Now, before Luke gets into a huge argument with his mother about whether or not this movie is appropriate, it would be useful to find out whether or not it is really the movie that is the problem, or whether there is something else that is bothering her. We call this qualifying the objection. A very, very important step.

Luke : Would you let me have the car if we went to see a different movie?

The answer to this question will tell us a lot. If his mother says yes, then Luke and his mother can talk about other movies or Luke could try to convince his mother that the proposed movie is not as bad as she thinks. On the other hand, if his mother says no again, then there must be some other reason why his mother does not approve of the plan. Naturally, mom will not say yes until Luke finds out what is wrong and figures out a way to fix it. So let’s see what his mother’s response is.

Luke : Would you let me have the car if we went to see a different movie?

Mom : No.

Well, that wasn’t the answer he was hoping for. If she had said yes, Luke would be in great shape for tonight, but he’s making progress. Luke now knows it is not the movie that is the problem, but what? He has to start over again. Luke has to find out what his mother’s true objection is before he will be able to use the car tonight. So, Luke must question his mother and qualify further.

Luke : What if we didn’t go to the movies at all, would that be okay? Could I take the car then?

Mom : No, that would not be okay. [More progress. It has nothing to do with going to the movies. Perhaps it is Luke’s friends. Let’s find out.]

Luke : I thought you said you liked my friends?

Mom : I never said I didn’t like your friends.

Luke : So why can’t I go out with them tonight?

The object here is to try to identify mom’s true objection. Luke is now baiting her in an effort to find out what the real problem is. If there is some friend going along that she does not approve of and we can eliminate that friend from the plan, Luke might still be in good shape. On the other hand, if it’s not one of the friends, there must be another reason.

Luke : I thought you liked my friends?

Mom : I do like your friends, but…

Luke : What if only Tara and I went?

Mom : I said, No!

Eventually, with Luke’s help, his mother is going to get around to telling Luke what is wrong with the plan.As stated previously, it is quite possible that his mother doesn’t even know herself what the specific problem is, she may just be in the mood to say no.Luke has to help her along.

Mom: I don’t know, Luke.I just don’t like the idea of you taking the car out tonight.

Now what do we do?Luke has to find out whether it is this particular car that she doesn’t want Luke to take, or whether tonight is the problem or whatever else might be on his mother’s mind.

Luke : Would it be better tomorrow night?

Mom : No, that’s not it.

Luke : Would you prefer that we took Melissa’s parents car?

Mom : No.

His mother is really being tough here.We still have not found out what the real problem is, although Luke is getting closer.We know it is not the movie.We know it is not the friends.We know it is not the fact that Luke is taking his mom’s car, so that eliminates a lot of possibilities, like she doesn’t want to be responsible for all those kids in the car, or there may be a mechanical problem with the car, or they never put gas in the car after using it, etc.Had it been any one of those things, Luke could offer to solve them by taking another car or putting gas in the car or some other minor concession.Unfortunately, as it now stands, Luke is still not going out tonight with the gang and we don’t know why his mother has a problem.Luke must continue to eliminate potential objections so he can get to the real reason.Eventually, his mother gets worn down and says:

Mom : I just think you are too young to be going out every night.

Luke : If I hadn’t gone out at all this past week, would I be allowed to take the car to the movies tonight?

Mom : I don’t know, I guess so.

Luke : How about if I stay in tomorrow night?

Mom : I guess so, but I don’t want you staying out too late either.

Luke : The movie isn’t over until 11:45.

Mom : That’s too late.

Finally, we have gotten to the bottom of it.It seems that his mother doesn’t want Luke staying out late every night.Now, this has to be tested to see if this is the real reason.

The proper way to do this is to restate the objection in the form of a question.

Luke : So, if I understand what you’re saying, my dear and wonderful mother, you don’t like me staying out late every night?

Mom : Exactly.

BINGO!Our hero has identified his mother’s true objection.That’s a big step, and important step, but not the final step.Now, the trick is to overcome the objection.To do that, Luke must find out why his mother doesn’t want him staying out so late.Is it because she thinks Luke needs more sleep?Is it because his mother doesn’t like staying up late waiting for him?Is it because she worries about him and is concerned that crazy things happen late at night.Luke must find out before he gets the wheels.

Luke : Are you concerned that I am not getting enough sleep?

Mom : Yes, you need more sleep.

Now, we are getting somewhere, but first, Luke has to “test the objection”.That means that Luke needs to find out whether or not getting enough sleep is just an objection or the objection. Luke should have said:

Luke : So what you are saying, Mom, is if I got more sleep, like, take a nap, I could go?

Mom : No.

Luke : So, there is some other reason that you don’t want me to go to the movies tonight.

Mom : I also don’t like having to wait up so late for you.

[Bravo, Luke.Now let’s test it!]

Luke : If I came home a little earlier could I go?

Mom : (silence)

Luke : How about if I came home at 11:00?[Mistake by Luke, next chapter]

Mom : I guess that would be okay.But not a minute later.

By repeatedly testing the objections, Luke was able to find out what his mother’s true objections were and overcome them.This method is useful for all types of negotiations whether it be for an extended curfew, a raise in allowance, a better grade on an essay, a day off from school or work, or borrowing money, etc.

Trouble is, Luke is probably so exhausted and beat up from going through this ordeal with his mother that he is too tired to go out.

Couch potato

Let’s review.  Qualify the objection.  In other words, find out if this is one of many objections, or the objection.  Test the object by stating, if I take care of this particular item or problem, would you agree?  Then, when you have identified the true objection or objections, offer the solution.  Good Luck!