Aunt Cecile's Tremendous Negotiation Tip

by Dr. Gary S. Goodman - Date: 2007-01-22 - Word Count: 396 Share This!

My Aunt Cecile, rest her soul, shared a secret with me before heading off to the happy hunting ground.

"Gary, if anyone asks you an embarrassing question, or simply one you don't care to answer, just pretend that you didn't hear it. Usually, they won't ask it twice."

Being the teenager I was, inexperienced in the ways of grown-up communications, I thought there was something wrong with this morsel of wisdom.

I had been taught it is impolite not to listen to others, and it is outright rude to ignore them. So, where did her advice leave me?

Wondering when I would use it, for one thing.

But as the years passed, I become more assertive and I encountered at least my share of unfriendly, if not altogether impertinent questions, so I put my Aunt's prescription to the test, especially in negotiations.

You can't imagine how impressed I was the first time it actually worked. I thought I'd be hounded by the people whose queries fell on deaf ears.

I was wrong.

Seldom did they ask the same question twice, and generally, once they heard how brash they sounded, I suppose they thought better of repeating it.

This "turning a deaf ear" to questions you don't want to answer definitely has a place in negotiating.

Just today, a realtor emailed me about selling a property and he wanted to know two things: (1) What is the price I'll accept; and (2) How much of a loan will I carry?

Both questions are disadvantageous to answer. To the first, I suggested he bring in a genuine offer and we'll see if it is appropriate.

And, borrowing from Cecile, I didn't even respond to the second.

Why talk terms when you haven't even seen a decent offer based on price?

If he's savvy, he'll repeat or rephrase his loan question, but if I'm lucky, it will recede, at least for the time being.

My Aunt's ploy is easier to use in an exchange of emails or faxes than in someone's company, but I suggest you try it in both settings.

The idea that you simply MUST ANSWER all questions posed is absolute nonsense in a negotiation. As any experienced public speaker or politician will tell you, there are such things as hostile questions that simply must be ignored, rephrased, or at least delayed.

So, don't be suckered into answering them when they put you at a disadvantage or jar you out of your comfort zone.

Related Tags: sales training, ucla, usc, convention speaker, keynote speaker, negotiation training, negotiation seminars

Best-selling author of 12 books and more than 1,000 articles, Dr. Gary S. Goodman is considered "The Gold Standard" in sales development, customer service, and telephone effectiveness. Top-rated as a speaker, seminar leader, and consultant, his clients extend across the globe and the organizational spectrum, from the Fortune 1000 to small businesses. He can be reached at: Your Article Search Directory : Find in Articles

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