The Strategist

Scratch in the mind: One-minute negotiation technique

01/07/2022 - 02:41

Sometimes your idea is so strong that you don't even think about questioning the reality of your goal. The problem is that others don't particularly believe you. So your task is to move them from "we can't do it" to "maybe we will" and then to "let's do it".

Most of the most interesting things in the world were considered impossible before they were done. So, we need a result: one stops just listening and starts thinking. That is, goes from "yes, but..." to "yes, of course!".

One of the most powerful tricks for turning the situation around when you are held hostage by people who can't move beyond "we can't" is the surprise question method.

This method is applicable to people who are stuck somewhere between resistance and listening and are not ready to move on to deliberation. They usually oscillate between fear ("it's a dangerous idea, it'll all fail, and it'll be my fault") and apathy ("it might be a good idea, but I think it'll take too long"). If you're lucky, you'll see at least a glimmer of interest ("I wonder if it will work? Who knows..."). But without constant and persistent nudging, your idea won't get anywhere on its own.

Here's how it goes:

You: Is there something you can't do, but if you did, would you have tremendous success?
Interlocutor: If only I could do --, but it is impossible.
You: Well, what would it take to make it possible?

That's it - two questions: "Is there something that cannot be done?" and "What would it take to make it possible?"

What's so special about these two questions? They force one to move from defence (or from a selfish and justified position) to openness and reflection. These questions force you to draw a picture that corresponds to your vision of the situation and begin to think together about what needs to be done to make that vision come true.

When you ask people to tell you something unimaginative, you are essentially getting them to say something affirmative. For example: "Yes, I think it's impossible." And they unwittingly begin to agree with you. They go from a strong "no" to a "yes" or "yes, but...".

And if at that point you agree with them and ask, "What would it take to make it possible?" - they won't be able to refuse to cooperate.

By asking such a question, you are leaving a "scratch" in the person's mind which they will instinctively want to grind away, and the only way to do that is to answer the question posed. And when you get an answer, you get what you want.

Based on “Just Listen. Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone” by Mark Goulston

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