Back to Insights

Negotiators Understand Difference

Keith Stacey
Negotiators Understand Difference

As we celebrated Easter recently, I was reminded of the different strategies each of my daughters demonstrated when it came to their Easter egg stash. 


As a family, we always went camping at Easter in Tassie and it always, always rained.   Nevertheless, courageously, my wife and I would brave the elements to distribute the eggs late Saturday night: rabbits and bilbies in neat lines under the canopy – far enough away from the pile of kids’ muddy thongs to almost be hygienic.   


By the time we woke on Easter Sunday, Ellie had already (religiously) hoovered up the whole row.  Not a single rabbit or bilby ever survived till breakfast on Easter Sunday. And she would always slide back into her sleeping bag, complaining bitterly that she wanted to go home. 


Suki, in complete contrast, always collected her eggs and arranged them along her sleeping bag where she could admire the shimmering prospect of considered nibbles into the future.  


The Easter break would pass, and Suki would carry her bundle of chocolate eggs home in a plastic shopping bag. She would make sure to put them in a safe place in the top of the cooler and she would carry them carefully to her wardrobe when we got home. She always made a special effort to tie them up between the coat hangers to make sure the mice didn’t get to them. 


Autumn and winter would pass and eventually Suki would slice open the bag and peel back some of the silver paper of an egg to try a piece. By the time she had finally decided to actually eat them, the eggs had turned to a white powdery substance – shattering when touched - unappealing and inedible.   


Like Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘The Blackberries she had discovered that there are some things you just can’t hold onto, no matter how hard you try. 


If you asked a negotiator who had the correct approach, a skilled response would be both: 


Ellie valued immediate gratification and surely achieved that to the point of feeling ill.  


Suki valued possession and had a few months of ownership to contemplate the day when she could finally start eating.  


In terms of what they valued, both Ellie and Suki achieved precisely what they wanted. 


Negotiators develop a real understanding of the preferences of the other party and use this knowledge as a way to trade them what they value, in return for what the negotiator themself values. 


With Ellie and Suki, this understanding could lead to offering slightly different value proposals to them. 


For Ellie the amount of chocolate for immediate consumption is the value driver. Little point in creating wonderful chocolate figurines with sumptuous wrapping, as these ‘extras’ would vanish in seconds. 


For Suki, the value was in contemplation of future consumption as the rabbits and bilbies were safely tucked away; their presentation had a higher value to her than the quantity of chocolate. 


Skilled negotiators think about customers and clients and identify possible different value drivers they can use to trade. 


Ps: I’d like to say the kids changed their strategy as they grew up, but sadly, that’s just not the case!  


Happy negotiating! 

Subscribe to our Blog

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. We value your privacy. For more information please refer to our Privacy Policy.