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Your Weekly Walkaway - Confusion Is The Mother Of All Deadlocks
The Weekly Walkway highlights negotiation in its ‘good’, ‘bad’ and sometimes ‘downright ugly’ forms. Newsletter Issue No. 24 (10th March 2023)
What to expect?
Quote of the Week - “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
Tactic of the Week - The Confusion
Thought of the Week - Confusion Is The Mother Of All Deadlocks
Remember: You are a negotiator!
You are always managing some form of conflict, a difference of opinion or interest.
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QUOTE’s OF THE WEEK
“If you can’t convince them, confuse them.”
Harry S Truman
“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
George Bernard Shaw
TACTIC OF THE WEEK
The aim of the tactic is to deliberately mislead or confuse the other party to gain an advantage. It is a shocker, but there may be certain situations where a negotiator might choose to use this tactic to achieve a certain outcome.
This tactic is more common than you’d like to think. Beware!
‘The Confusion’ is usually employed on the Eastern Side of The Kahvay Negotiation Compass. Also described as win-lose or competitive negotiations. The Haggler and Dealer personas. Where cold, hard and arrogant behaviours rise to the front, where they are trying to gain an advantage over you and where there is limited or no trust.
For this tactic, they would need to deliberately mislead or confuse you in order to gain the upper hand. For example, they might;
Make false claims and false promises;
Create misleading proposals, misquote, change summaries, or misrepresent details;
Use technical language or lots and lots of words to hide their intentions.
Here are only a few examples of why they may choose to confuse you;
To gain leverage: They might intentionally mislead you about their position, interests, or priorities to gain an advantage in the negotiation. For example, a buyer might exaggerate their volume needs and budget constraints to get volume discounts from a seller;
To test their understanding: They might use confusion to test your position and see how flexible you are. For instance, they present a proposal that is ridiculously extreme and unreasonable simply to gauge your reaction;
To buy time: They might use confusion or misleading tactics to buy time and delay a decision until they have more information or a better understanding of the situation.
As you can see, ‘The Confusion’ is, unfortunately, a tactic that is used often and is highly effective in certain situations. But it is damaging. It will harm any ability to create trust and therefore harms relationships and creates negative reciprocal responses. You both spiral into dishonesty. Effective in achieving short-term gains but damaging for long-term relationships and reputations.
Use this tactic with caution!
We consider it more effective to negotiate in good faith and strive for mutually beneficial outcomes. Beware of those who use ‘The Confusion’; their intentions are not mutual.
THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
Confusion Is The Mother Of All Deadlocks
Once upon a time, there were two negotiators named John and Maria. John, a medical devices sales representative. Maria, a purchasing manager for a hospital. John and Maria meet to negotiate a contract for the purchase of several pieces of equipment.
The negotiations start well, with both of them outlining their needs and requirements. However, as the discussions progress, it becomes clear that there are some misunderstandings between the two of them. John is speaking in technical language, assuming that Maria would understand. However, Maria is not familiar with the technical details and finds John's explanations confusing.
As a result, the negotiations stall, and both parties become frustrated. John feels Maria is being unreasonable, while Maria feels John is not providing the information she needs to make an informed decision. Both sides face deadlock.
Luckily a trusted mutual third party, a medical professional familiar with the equipment being discussed, enters the scene. The medical professional listens to both John and Maria and quickly realises that the problem is a lack of clear communication. The medical professional explains the technical details in a way that Maria understands, clarifying the issues that are causing confusion.
Clearer communication clears up any conflict and confusion, and the negotiations start to move forward again.
When you are not clear in your communication, it leads to unnecessary conflict, confusion, misunderstandings, frustration, a breakdown in trust and, ultimately in the negotiation.
In the case of John and Maria, John assumed that Maria had a certain level of technical knowledge, which she did not possess. This assumption led to confusion, frustration and a breakdown in communication that threatened to derail the negotiation.
If this happens to you, you must stay focused on the issues at hand and maintain clear, open and honest communication. Then and only then can you work towards mutually beneficial outcomes that meet the needs of all involved.
When you are clear in your communication, it shows that you are willing to be open and honest with them, which helps to build trust and strengthen relationships. When trust is present, you are more likely to work together to find solutions that meet everyone's needs.
Here are our three tips for clearer communication;
Prepare ahead of time: Gather all relevant information before entering into a negotiation. This includes clarifying your goals and objectives and outlining your priorities, anticipating any potential roadblocks or challenges and educating yourself. When you have a clear understanding of what you want to communicate, it will be easier to convey your message clearly and effectively;
Be clear and concise: Avoid using complicated language that may confuse or mislead them. Use simple, straightforward language to convey your message and avoid using ambiguous statements that could be interpreted in multiple ways. Be direct and specific, and avoid making assumptions about what they know or understand. Additionally, be mindful of your tone and nonverbal cues, which can also influence how your message is received;
Listen actively and summarise your position: Just as important as communicating clearly is actively listening. Communication is a two-way street. Question and listen actively to gain a better understanding of their needs and priorities, which helps you find common ground and builds trust. Repeat your proposals and summarise often to ensure that you’re both on the same page. Not only does it anchor your position it also will help avoid misunderstandings and ensure that everyone is clear on what has been proposed.
When you are clear in your communication, you can identify areas where you have common ground as well as areas where you don’t. This can help you focus on the issues that are most important and to work together to find creative solutions that address everyone's needs.
We’d love to read your comments or thoughts. What do you think?
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