Should I cut the Bow or the Stern off?

Published: Apr 27 , 2021
Author: Ben Byth

In commercial and personal negotiations, it doesn’t take long before an unreasonable request or demand is asked of us.


A mate of mine was selling his surf ski and listed it on Facebook for a quick and easy sale at the bottom end of what he could expect to achieve. Unfortunately for Matthew, some people just feel the need to push on price regardless of how good the deal already is.


Matthew’s buyer said: “Would you accept 20% less?”


Matthew’s response was classic negotiation: “The ski is 6.25m long, 20% is 1.25m… would you prefer that I cut that off the bow or stern?”. They both laugh and move on with the sale.


Most of us respond to silly requests every so often. Whilst it can be tempting to reject them, the risk is that saying ‘no’ may harden up your counterpart and encourage them to say ‘no’ to your next request. Instead, we propose you put an equally silly request on a silly demand.


Putting an unreasonable price on an unreasonable demand blocks the proposal. It is likely they are going to complain that you are being ridiculous and it could ignite an argument. Yet this objection allows you to illustrate just how silly their proposal really is “yes mine is silly, but so is yours!, can we move on with something that might work for both of us?”


Be ready with a reasonable proposal that meets everyone’s needs (making a proposal will get you back out of the argument).


Happy Negotiating!


2018 Ben Byth v2

About the author:

Ben Byth
Ben’s background is in commercial business to business sales. Leveraging studies in organisational psychology, Ben’s previous role was responsible for growing Profiling Online’s bespoke leadership assessment business locally and abroad across industries such as Banking and Finance, Insurance, Travel, Engineering and Professional Services.

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