Archive for: May, 2023

Top 3 Methods for Enjoying the Present Moment

May 31 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

Whichever aim you could have, you will want tips, ideas, good advice for you to achieve it. When you fully understand the “do’s” along with the “don’ts” it can help tremendously in achieving your goal. This short article supplies three essential tactics that will help. Using the following pointers your prospects for superior results are going to be seriously higher.

While you are trying to enjoy the present moment, it truly is important that you do things right. If you don’t, the outcomes are usually regrettable. You might end up getting worried, or possibly giving up and losing hope. Allow me to share 3 strategies for getting the best results..

1. sit in silence and just be silent for 10 minutes a day

One must always sit in silence and just be silent for 10 minutes a day as it allows you to just relax and focus on the present. Failing to do this can easily mean that you will not be able to get into the habit of working for the present moment. Therefore be certain to do that effectively and don’t make the error of neglecting this critical step!

2. Do not think about the future or the past, but just focus completely on the task that you are doing in the present

Almost as essential as sit in silence and just be silent for 10 minutes a day whenever dealing with you are trying to enjoy the present moment is do not think about the future or the past, but just focus completely on the task that you are doing in the present. I am telling you, this is not a thing to leave out. It contributes greatly to you being able to focus and enjoy the present moment, and that is something almost everyone involved in enjoying the present moment would like.

3. Always think in a positive light

Lastly, when you are trying to enjoy the present moment you must remember and always think in a positive light. This can help with you being able to focus completely on the present moment, and that’s an essential part of enjoying the present moment. Should you not, you could fail and not be able to focus on the present and instead worry about the future — and I’m sure we are able to agree that this couldn’t be the best thing!

As I pointed out at the start, in the case of you are trying to enjoy the present moment, you desperately want to ensure you do not make blunders which will end up getting worried, or perhaps even giving up and losing hope. What you would like is to take things slow and steady, and you can do that by following the ideas given.

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Procurement Skills: 9 Steps to Boost Your Persuasion Skills Through Improved Presentations

May 31 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

Presentations are an inherent part of today’s workplace… business presentations, public speaking and general communication. All involve formal and informal levels and ultimately impact your career progression. So here is a 9 step process for how you can improve your persuasion skills and so become a more effective persuader.

  1. Understand the issues faced by your audience. It is often said that a busy person (and who isn’t busy these days?) can only deal with 5 topics at any one time. If you are going to get air time with busy people you need to make a connection from the very beginning with what is currently on their mind. So you need to link the subject matter of your presentation to one of these key items which means you need to research your audience.
  2. Decide what kind of presentation it is. Is your presentation a pitch for something (such as resources for a project, agreement to go ahead with something or even a pay rise), is it informing the audience or is it to build goodwill (for example at a supplier event)? Is it a formal presentation in front of many people, an informal presentation to a few or even a one-to-one conversation with someone?
  3. Decide your objectives. What is it you want as a result of the presentation? Do you want people to leave feeling enthused for your project? Do you want commitment to give your project money? You need to decide what you want before you design your presentation.
  4. Create a “hook”. This is a vital part of your presentation. You need to grab your audience’s attention from the very beginning. For example, Robert Cialdini has found that the most absorbing presentations and articles start with a mystery. The presentation then engages the audience as they unravel the mystery together.
  5. Create your memorable opening. This is closely linked to the hook. In their book “Made to Stick” Chip and Dan Heath tell the story of someone pitching to venture capitalists for investment in developing a new laptop computer. He started by throwing onto the table a plastic folder and declaring that this was his new laptop. Clearly it wasn’t but it started a discussion about how a laptop could be made so thin and small.
  6. Craft your action focused ending. Too many presentations follow the formula “tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you have told them”. This might work if your objective is to inform the audience. For every other type of presentation it is insufficient. What you want is action of some kind so finish with what you want them to do – a “takeaway” list of actions.
  7. Use graphics for impact. Most people respond better to images than to text. Think about all of the slide shows you have had to sit through that are crammed full of text and bullet points. Images have more impact as long as they are relevant to the topic and are unique. Avoid stock photographs that bear no relation to the point you are trying to get across.
  8. Pull it all together into a coherent story. Do not underestimate the power of a story. We are conditioned from a very young age to engage with and respond to stories. Don’t get “cute” but do have a story that unfolds with a well-crafted opening, middle and end.
  9. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. As a golfer once told me, amateurs practice until they get it right – professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.

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Get Results From Your Presentation Using Presentation Folders Or Handouts

May 30 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

On average, executive managers of a corporation may attend between four or five meetings in one business day. It may be difficult to remember the meeting objectives, action items to complete, key points to focus on or even just general information for that matter. As a manager hosting one of these many meetings, you want to ensure your meeting is the highlighted meeting of the day. This can be accomplished by using presentation folders to supplement your discussion.

After you have locked down your meeting time, make sure you start preparing for it almost immediately. Determine the number of people that will be attending the meeting. You want to do this so you can ensure you have a reservation for the correct size conference room and you have made enough document packet copies to hand out.

Use presentation folders reflective of the type of presentation and audience you are holding the meeting for. With several choices available, consider the appropriate styles or colors. Be mindful of the fact that prints, colors and styles can depict a specific mood. As an example, you do not want to use a plain dull tan folder to show off a brand new product line. At the same time, you do not want to use a bright neon green folder for a formal meeting.

Take your audience into consideration when you start working on your presentation. Be sure you are delivering a presentation that is meaningful to them. You can accomplish this by acting as if you are simply having a conversation with them, and telling them about the specific points you want to get across. Finding the most appropriate words to use that will help you connect better with them. Throughout the delivery, make sure you are relaxed. To have nonverbal interaction with the group, use body movements, gestures and facial expressions.

Gauging the reaction of your audience is important. Actions speak louder than words, so if your audience looks confused or uninterested, they probably are. A successful delivery comes from getting your main points across by the effective use of your visual aids.

Examples of your visual aids can be animation or graphics in the presentation, sample items, as well as visuals within your handouts or folders. Make sure you do not give out your handouts and folders until you get to that part of the presentation. This includes all the visual aids you have. Do not let them be seen until you reach that part of your presentation.

Set aside some time at the conclusion of the presentation for a question and answer time. This time is an important addition and gives the audience a chance to get clear. In addition, it is also a great time for the group to get involved. Make sure you are prepared during the question time as you may be asked challenging questions. The overall presentation is dependent on how well you respond to difficult questions.

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Story Telling Can Make Any Presentation Come Alive

May 29 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

What kind of reaction are you getting when presenting material as part of a management team, a corporate trainer or school teacher, a member of a church leadership team, or part of a civic group? Does the audience collectively yawn and look at their watches, hoping you are nearing the end of your talk? Your audience is your best feedback mechanism. If things aren’t going well, they are not the problem.

If this narrative sounds like your last presentation, and we have all been there, what might be the solution to your dilemma? Use illustrative stories to emphasize your key points. Story telling has been part of the human experience since the beginning of time. Telling stories should be part of any presentation, whether your audience is sitting in an auditorium, a small group meeting, or the board room. Great stories will make any presentation resonate with an audience and be long remembered.

There are many reasons to incorporate stories into your presentations. One of the most important is people will remember a well told story long after they have forgotten exactly what captivating information them gave them. Why? Because stories evoke emotion, create drama, create a visceral experience while providing implied information. And they prepare the audience for a call to action – the reason you are speaking at the front of the room.

The magic comes from the structure of a story. Think of theatrical plays. Their structure is often based on Act I, Act II and Act III. There is a hero, a villain, conflict and resolution. Your illustrative stories can have the same structure. They should have drama that can bring a presentation alive.

Here is an exercise you can do to understand more clearly how stories can be woven into your presentations. Write a short story that you might use in a presentation, teaching lesson or any important conversation. It can be short, perhaps around 60 seconds in the telling or a little longer if necessary. Next, write out the point of the story. The question is why are you telling it? Then finally, write out why an audience should hear the story.

You will be surprised to see that making the point of the story clear, and paying attention to why someone should hear your story can take some effort to think through. The focus is to get the structure firmly in mind. You will then be able to select the best illustrative story for any presentation, and know clearly why and for what purpose.

I have found that understanding the point of the story helps me, the story teller, sort through stories to find the right one to use. There may be several key points for any story, but one is the most salient. You may find several ways you can use a story, and in different contexts. That’s great. Likewise, the reason people should hear your story is critical to your presentations. The audience is processing what they are hearing and are projecting where you are going next in your presentation. Keep them on track by being predictable. You can create high drama, on the other hand, if you take your story in an entirely different direction. The choice in yours.

Use stories in the context of a longer presentation to drive home your key points. Link stories together to help pull together an entire presentation. But make sure you get the structure right for each story you use. Stories can be similar to the general understanding of your audience, or for more drama, conflict with their thinking. I use Post-It notes plan out and order my stories for the most dramatic effect.

Inclusion of illustrative stories into a presentation will force discipline in your planning. For a 20-minute presentation, develop 10 minutes of material, then illustrate them with your stories. Chris Anderson, the president of TED, suggests getting it all done in about 18 minutes. You can say about 2,500 words in that length of time. This is a good rule to follow. To dig deeper, watch some TED talks on YouTube. You will catch some new tricks if you spend the time. You might even want to look up TEDx in your local area. These are local organizations oriented to helping people develop their presentation skills. Anderson talks about the emergence of a “Talk Renaissance.” Public speaking has always been important, but according to Anderson to speak well and persuasively will matter even more in the future.

Make your time and preparation really matter to those who hear you speak. They will remember the illustrations of your key points by story-telling more than any hard facts you can provide. Use illustrative stories to catch their imaginations, allow them to feel your passion, and encourage them to take up your call to action.

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I’m Presenting, Not Selling – Tips For Presentation Skills

May 27 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

Presentation Skills courses are quite often delivered as Sales training as these groups of people consider themselves highly effective communicators. To an extent I would agree with this, and have met some incredibly effective communicators in my time. But let’s now consider what a presentation is in the normal sense. It is the transfer of knowledge and information from a sender to a receiver or receivers. This knowledge or information could be for the purpose of selling, to highlight the benefits of a product or service, but what if it is not? What if the presentation you are making is to your team, another group of managers or an external organisation? What if the purpose is to communicate not to sell, how would you make an effective presentation?

There are three key elements that need to be considered when making a presentation. These are: the subject matter or topic, the audience being delivered to and the environment that the presentation is taking place. An effective presentation lies at the heart of these three circles and to explain why let’s consider each in turn.

Subject Matter/Topic

The subject matter being delivered is of critical importance to the way a presentation is delivered. Not just in its content but also in its importance to the audience. This point is covered further below. If the topic being delivered is factual maybe numeric, consider using graphs and charts to show a visual representation. If lots of theoretical information is being presented then consider pulling out key points and emphasising them on screen. It might be worth also supporting your presentation with handouts, but be careful with when these are distributed. The last thing you need is the audience spending time reading the handouts and missing the messages from the presentation.


The audience represents the receiver of the communication. It is really important to consider the level of knowledge, understanding and intellect of the audience when preparing a presentation. For example if the topic is something that is complex or new consideration needs to be given to how the information will be received and taken on board. If the subject is of great importance to the audience then time needs to be taken to capture all the right messages and make sure they will be delivered in such a way that they can be easily absorbed, perhaps only a few words on any slides or handouts so it is clear about the key facts being communicated.


The last thing to be considered and to get right is the environment that the presentation will take place. Not only does this include where, but also when, and to how many. The environment should really be dictated by the subject matter and the proposed audience and not “just what is available”. The impact of a really important presentation could be lost if the room is not suitable, too noisy, contains too many people to get the messages across, so take time to plan a good location. Also consider the timing of the presentation in terms of its importance to the audience. Something of great importance needs to be delivered in a timely manner, likewise something that is not urgent may not be best delivered right at the end of the day when minds are probably elsewhere.

A final closing point on presentations is to consider the following facts. Face to face communication is made up of 7% Words, 38% Tone, 55% Body Language. Consider this when thinking about the overlapping circles of an effective presentation.

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Tips For People Considering Debt Negotiation Or Debt Settlement

May 24 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

Debt negotiation is when someone negotiates with lenders and creditors to have the total debt owed lowered. This can be done alone or can be done by a debt settlement company that will negotiate with creditors on the clients behalf. Debt that can be negotiated include department store credit cards, collection agency debt, medical bills, credit cards, and other unsecured personal loans.

Which Lenders To Deal With

When it comes to debt settlement and negotiation you will find that smaller lenders are far more likely to talk. If you have debt with large financial companies you may have better luck using a professional.

Why Would a Creditor Take Less Then Is Owed

If you are considering debt negotiation or debt settlement then you probably have looked at bankruptcy as well. Creditors will take less then is owed when they suspect that the debtor is a candidate for bankruptcy. It’s better for them to get 60% of what is owed over nothing at all.

Things You Can Do Before And During The Negotiating

Showing Good Faith Is Key

Lenders and creditors will not negotiate with you if you show terrible financial judgment. If you purchased a new LCD TV three months ago then good luck in trying to get the creditor to talk. If they see that you are making an honest attempt to get your finances back on track they may be a little friendlier.

Be Polite

They are the ones in control so being difficult will only make things worse.

Tell The Truth

Let your creditors know about your situation and be honest.

Set Realistic Goals

Before you even talk to your creditors you should set a budget where you breakdown your expenses and income. See exactly how much you can afford and set that as your breakeven point. Explain to the creditors that if you have to pay more then this you will end up in the same situation. Why settle if you won’t be able to afford the settlement payments.

Be Persistent And Keep Records

Keep a record of every letter you send the creditors and send the letters registered. You may have to contact them multiple times before they will even talk to you.

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Credit Card Debt Negotiation and Settlement – How the Pros Slash Debts by 60% Or More

May 23 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

Credit card debt negotiation and settlement can be very rewarding, when performed successfully. Total debt can be slashed by 60% or more, achieving the same debt relief many Chapter 13 programs achieve, without the stigma of Bankruptcy. However, many debtors fail to complete these programs, especially when attempting their own credit card debt negotiations and settlements. Failure rates in these cases often top 75%.

The primary reason for failure is quite simple, really. The debtor is still left with a fixed monthly payment that is beyond what he can afford. You see, when you begin looking for help with debt relief, you may be presented with many options to choose from, from many different sources, all telling you that their solution is the best. You will hear of debt consolidation, equity loans, credit counseling, debt management plans, and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. All of these programs have one common feature – the requirement for a fixed monthly payment.

When most people hit financial hardship, they hit it in a spectacular fashion. When you are behind, it isn’t enough to reduce your income to your expenses. In order to catch up, you have to reduce your income to well below your expenses, so you can become current on everything and gain a little breathing room. But most of these programs don’t take into account your need to get out of the hole, and will simply calculate how much you could afford if you weren’t already behind on everything. This, of course, is not particularly helpful. And this is the reason that most people who sign up for any of the above fixed payment programs will fail to keep current; they are starting off already behind.

For these reasons, the most drastic course of action short of Chapter 7 bankruptcy is also the most successful, when performed by a professional. The course of action that will produce the best results for the vast majority of people is known as credit card debt settlement negotiation. This isn’t an easy program for most people to institute on their own, as it requires hardball negotiations with your creditors, as well as the fortitude to simply stop paying them while saving up a large enough sum to settle with them in cash.

The process normally takes two or three years, during which time you set aside funds each month into an escrow account. Once funds are in escrow equal to about 40% of your outstanding balances, each creditor receives a distribution, and the debt is legally settled. However, most creditors simply won’t negotiate or accept such terms from private individuals, and will only negotiate settlement and reduction of your credit card debt from professional debt negotiators.

Additionally, credit card debt settlement negotiators will typically be able to have all the fines and late fees removed from the outstanding balance. Now this can easily and quickly amount to a sum equal to the actual principle owed, so you can in fact see a total debt relief well in excess of 60%, often approaching 75%. This simply isn’t achievable by individuals attempting their own negotiations.

The key difference between credit card debt settlement negotiations and other debt reduction programs is the criterion of flexibility. Each month, you put in as much as you can afford to the amount that will be used to pay off your creditors with dimes on the dollar. If you are on a variable income, as millions of debtors are, this flexibility can mean all the difference in the world between succeeding and failing in reducing their overall debt and getting back on their feet financially.

These are the most successful tactics used by the credit card debt negotiation and settlement professionals, and they are the tactics you should use as well. Whether you attempt to perform your own settlement, or hire the professionals to go to bat on your behalf, choose a strategy that offers the benefits of flexibility as well as debt reduction: Choose debt settlement.

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5 Tips to Successful Real Estate Negotiation

May 22 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

Negotiating a real estate investment isn’t a science – it more like an art, or a dance, and your success in the negotiating process ultimately depends on going into it with certain tactics and strategies at the ready. Much like a painter approaches the canvas with all of his tools and paints next to him.

No matter how strong your negotiation skills, settle on the knowledge that you won’t be able to negotiate every single deal strongly in your favor every single time – some simply fail.

When Negotiations Get Easy

As a property investor, your best negotiations will typically revolve around a motivated seller. You have to find their pain point, or the “why” as to why they want to sell the property. If you understand the consequences of that home not being sold, you can leverage it. Motivation can come from countless directions; it’s just a matter of figuring out theirs.

  • Moving with no desire to rent the property
  • Avoiding foreclosure
  • Divorce
  • Unwanted properties (typically an inheritance)
  • Can’t afford expected increase in housing costs (variable rate, rates climbing, can’t refinance)

Think about how you could use their pain points to add value to your offer during the negotiation process. If the owner lives two hours from the property and they’re not concerned with the money but simply don’t want to manage the home, you need to know how to emphasize that the time and managing the property are an issue – and how a fast close on a lower cash offer could benefit them.

Steps to Winning Negotiations in Real Estate Investing

While no single strategy will provide a favorable outcome at all times, these tips can help you stay on track for better negotiations.

1. Always be prepared and informed. When you sit down to talk to a seller, make sure you’re armed with all the information you can find about the property and the area. Doing your homework will allow you to make a powerful counter-offer that is rooted in facts, statistics and solid numbers as opposed to arbitrary offers based on personal preference. The focus is to use these figures in order to lower the property value in the eyes of the seller.

2. Negotiations are never one sided; never simply wait for them to finish speaking so you can have your turn and make a counter. Actively listen to the seller so you maintain an open dialogue. If they feel like you’re listening, you’ll garner more respect from the seller. Likewise, when you’re really listening you can pick out consistency within their story while also grabbing out their primary motivation (pain point!) for selling the property.

3. Negotiation isn’t just verbal – there are non-verbal cues you want to watch for. Non-verbal cues can let you know how a seller feels about your offer, especially when they’re starting to get frustrated or losing interest in your offer. Here are a few examples

  • Note the position of their feet; if their feet are aimed at the exit of the room or home then you’re losing them. If they’re facing you without attempts to face an exit, then your offer is being considered.
  • Any kind of closed arms, crossed legs, closed hands or crossed arms are a strong indicated of a person that has shut down or closed off. They’re on the defensive and not likely to be listening to or even considering your offer.
  • Rubbing the neck, gripping the back or top of the head or any tugging at hemlines and collars can be indicators of suspicion and that your seller is losing interest
  • No eye contact, picking at clothing and wandering eyes are a strong indicator of boredom in your offer

At the same time there are positive indicators that can let you know your negotiation is heading in the right direction. These include

  • Head tilting while you speak which can indicate interest
  • Nodding while speaking
  • Leaning into a conversation
  • Open gestures
  • Touching

4. Don’t be afraid to really argue your case. As long as you keep it objective and avoid making it personal, you should be able to effectively state the value side of your offer while exposing the problem in the seller’s offer.

5. Be sure to signal and make it clear that you’re willing to work with the seller. When agreeable, common ground begins to surface during a real estate investment negotiation you should put emphasis on it. This tells the seller that you’re willing to negotiate; you just need to find the common ground. Once they get this signal, they’ll likely be eager to find a compromise that satisfies both of you.

Expect to see some negotiations go south even when you utilize these tips. If you do take the time to follow these tips, however, you can expect much better results from sellers when you work on acquiring a new property.

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Price Negotiating Tips For Smart Shoppers

May 21 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

More stores are feeling the sting of “The Amazon Effect”. Now many businesses are more willing to negotiate price. As the saying goes – one man’s problem can be another man’s opportunity. In this economic climate that saying is more true now than ever before, especially if you know how to haggle.

Circuit City, Linens and Things, Old Navy and many other retailers are planning to close its doors soon. Yes, the daily tally of retail stores that’s shutting their doors and many others on the brink is staggering to the mind, to say the least. But this can mean an unprecedented opportunity for savings if you know how to shop and negotiate prices.

This is the time for price negotiation. “Everything is negotiable”, has always been the saying of skilled shoppers. Now it’s obvious, even to those who balked at negotiating price before. In fact, because of the mountains of red ink many retailers are staring at each day, they wish someone would make them an offer – any offer, within reason.

Many would find it encouraging if someone would offer them an “at cost” offer. Other in-the-red retailers would take a small loss just to not have to keep counting and cleaning the same merchandise everyday. Plus, having to pay someone to do it. This presents more opportunities for you to haggle for that t.v, sofa, outfit, car, or home you’ve always wanted.

As with any endeavor, timing is everything… and cash is king. If you have the cash you can negotiate with confidence like never before.

Follow These Simple Negotiation Tactics for Big Savings.

1. To become a confident negotiator you must do your research ahead of time.

Find out the items worth? Find out how many places have them for sale? Is the product or service a high, medium or low demand product or service? Remember, the more you know before you start to negotiate, the better your results.

2. When a negotiation is successful, both sides win. All negotiation is give and take. A win-win situation should be the result with both sides at least getting what they need.

3. Know that negotiation is not an event that happens, it’s a process of steps that lead to success. Paying attention to the simple but effective steps is the difference between getting a bargain price and overpaying for a product or service.

4. To negotiate effectively, you must be willing to walk away if the price or terms is too high. If you have to have a product or service no matter what, you’re negotiation power shrinks drastically.

5. Most salespeople worth their salt can spot a desperate buyer a mile away. So, avoid appearing too desperate, anxious, or needy for the product or service they’re selling. Otherwise prepare to pay top dollar, in most cases.

6. Keep in mind an important part of negotiation is also knowing when to stop. Getting too greedy can often cause you to lose an otherwise good deal.

7. Lack of advanced preparation and not setting a price limit is one of the biggest mistakes most people make when trying to negotiate. Set a spending limit and stick to it.

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Power Negotiators Understand the Importance of Gathering Information

May 20 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

Henry Kissinger was once asked if he already knew what the Soviets would propose at an upcoming summit meeting. He said, “Oh, absolutely-no question about it. It would be absolutely disastrous for us to go into a negotiation not knowing in advance what the other side was going to propose.”

Can you imagine the cost of getting that kind of information? The budget of the C.I.A. is top secret, but experts think it is almost $4 billion a year, even now that the Cold War is over. So, governments think it’s important enough to spend that kind of money. Doesn’t it make sense that we at least spend a little time to find out more about the other side, before we go into negotiations? Why do countries send spies into other countries? Why do professional football teams study the replays of their opponents’ games? Because knowledge is power and the more knowledge one side is able to accumulate about the other, the better chance that side has for victory.
If two countries go to war, the country that has the most intelligence about the other has the advantage. That was certainly true in the Persian Gulf War-the C.I.A. spies had photographed every building in Baghdad, and we were able to completely take out their communication systems in the first few bombing runs.

If two companies are planning to merge, the company that knows the most will usually end up with the better deal. If two salespeople are vying for an account, the salesperson who knows more about the company and its representatives stands a better chance of being selected for the account.
Despite the obviousness of the important role that information plays in a negotiation, few people spend much time analyzing the other side before starting a negotiation. Even people who wouldn’t dream of skiing or scuba diving without taking lessons will jump into a negotiation that could cost them thousands of dollars without spending adequate time gathering the information they should have.

Rule One: Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know

Why are people reluctant to gather information? Because to find things out, you have to admit that you don’t know, and most of us are extraordinarily reluctant to admit that we don’t know.

So the first rule for gathering information is: Don’t be over confident. Admit that you don’t know and admit that anything you do know may be wrong.

Rule Two: Don’t be afraid to ask the question

I used to be afraid to ask questions for fear that the question would upset the other person. I was one of those people who say, “Would you mind if I asked you?” or “Would it embarrass you to tell me?” I don’t do that any more. I ask them, “How much money did you make last year?” If they don’t want to tell you, they won’t. Even if they don’t answer the question, you’ll still be gathering information. Just before General Schwarzkopf sent our troops into Kuwait, Sam Donaldson asked him, “General, when are you going to start the land war?” Did he really think that the General was going to say, “Sam, I promised the President that I wouldn’t tell any of the 500 reporters that keep asking me that question, but since you asked I’ll tell you. At 2.00 AM on Tuesday we’re going in”? Of course, Schwarzkopf wasn’t going to answer that question, but a good reporter asks anyway. It might put pressure on the other person or annoy him so that he blurts out something he didn’t intend to. Just judging the other person’s reaction to the question might tell you a great deal.

If you want to learn about another person, nothing will work better than the direct question. In my own experience-now that I’m no longer afraid to ask-I’ve met only a few people who were seriously averse to answering even the most personal questions. For example, how many people get offended when you ask them, “Why were you in hospital?” Not very many.

It’s a strange fact of human nature that we’re very willing to talk about ourselves, yet we’re reticent when it comes to asking others about themselves. We fear the nasty look and the rebuff to a personal question. We refrain from asking because we expect the response, “That’s none of your business.” Yet how often do we respond that way to others?

When you get over your inhibitions about asking people, the number of people willing to help you will surprise you. When I wanted to become a professional speaker, I called up a speaker I admired, Danny Cox, and asked him if I could buy him lunch. Over lunch, he willingly gave me a $5,000 seminar on how to be successful as a speaker. Whenever I see him today, I remind him of how easy it would have been for him to talk me out of the idea. Instead, though, he was very encouraging. It still astounds me how people who have spent a lifetime accumulating knowledge in a particular area are more than willing to share that information with me without any thought of compensation.

It seems even more incredible that these experts are very rarely asked to share their expertise. Most people find experts intimidating, so the deep knowledge that they have to offer is never fully used. What a senseless waste of a valuable resource-all because of an irrational fear.

Rule Three: Ask open-ended questions

Power Negotiators understand the importance of asking and of taking the time to do it properly. What’s the best way to ask? Rudyard Kipling talked about his six honest serving men. He said,

I keep six honest serving-men.

(They taught me all I knew);

Their names are What and Why and When

and How and Where and Who.

Of Kipling’s six honest serving men, I like Why the least. Why can easily be seen as accusatory. “Why did you do that?” implies criticism. “What did you do next?” doesn’t imply any criticism. If you really need to know why, soften it by rephrasing the question using what instead: “You probably had a good reason for doing that. What was it?” Learn to use Kipling’s six honest serving men to find out what you need to know.

You’ll get even more information if you learn how to ask open-ended questions. Close-ended questions can be answered with a yes or a no or a specific answer. For example, “How old are you?” is a closed-end question. You’ll get a number and that’s it. “How do you feel about being your age?” is an open-ended question. It invites more than just a specific answer response.

“When must the work be finished by?” is a closed-ended question. “Tell me about the time limitations on the job,” is an open-ended request for information.

Rule Four: Where you ask the question makes a big difference
Power Negotiators also know that the location where you do the asking can make a big difference. If you meet with people at their corporate headquarters, surrounded by their trappings of power and authority and their formality of doing business, it’s the least likely place for you to get information.

People in their work environment are always surrounded by invisible chains of protocol-what they feel they should be talking about and what they feel they shouldn’t. That applies to an executive in her office, it applies to a salesperson on a sales call, and it applies to a plumber fixing a pipe in your basement. When people are in their work environments, they’re cautious about sharing information. Get them away from their work environments and information flows much more freely. And it doesn’t take much. Sometimes all that it takes is to get that vice-president down the hall to his company lunchroom for a cup of coffee. Often that’s all it takes to relax the tensions of the negotiation and get information flowing. And if you meet for lunch at your country club, surrounded by your trappings of power and authority, where he’s psychologically obligated to you because you’re buying the lunch, then that’s even better.

Rule Five: Ask other people-not the person with whom you will negotiate
If you go into a negotiation knowing only what the other side has chosen to tell you, you are very vulnerable. Others will tell you things that the other side won’t, and they will also be able to verify what the other side has told you.

Start by asking people who’ve done business with the other side already. I think it will amaze you-even if you thought of them as competition-how much they’re willing to share with you. Be prepared to horse trade information. Don’t reveal anything that you don’t want them to know, but the easiest way to get people to open up is to offer information in return. People who have done business with the other side can be especially helpful in revealing the character of the people with whom you’ll be negotiating. Can you trust them? Do they bluff a great deal in negotiations or are they straightforward in their dealings? Will they stand behind their verbal agreements or do you need an attorney to read the fine print in the contracts?

Next, ask people further down the corporate ladder than the person with whom you plan to deal. Let’s say you’re going to be negotiating with someone at the main office of a nationwide retail chain. You might call up one of the branch offices and get an appointment to stop by and see the local manager. Do some preliminary negotiating with that person. He will tell you a lot, even though he can’t negotiate the deal, about how the company makes a decision, why one supplier is accepted over another, the specification factors considered, the profit margins expected, the way the company normally pays, and so on. Be sure that you’re “reading between the lines” in that kind of conversation. Without you knowing it, the negotiations may have already begun. For example, the Branch Manager may tell you, “They never work with less than a 40 percent markup,” when that may not be the case at all. And never tell the Branch Manager anything you wouldn’t say to the people at his head office. Take the precaution of assuming anything you say will get back to them.

Next, take advantage of peer-group sharing. This refers to the fact that people have a natural tendency to share information with their peers. At a cocktail party, you’ll find attorneys talking about their cases to other attorneys, when they wouldn’t consider it ethical to share that information with anyone outside their industry. Doctors will talk about their patients to other doctors, but not outside their profession.

Power Negotiators know how to use this phenomenon because it applies to all occupations, not just in the professions. Engineers, controllers, foremen, and truck drivers; all have allegiances to their occupations, as well as their employers. Put them together with each other and information will flow that you couldn’t get any other way.

If you’re thinking of buying a used piece of equipment, have your driver or equipment supervisor meet with his counterpart at the seller’s company.
If you’re thinking of buying another company, have your controller take their bookkeeper out to lunch.

You can take an engineer from your company with you to visit another company and let your engineer mix with their engineers. You’ll find out that unlike top management-the level at which you may be negotiating-engineers have a common bond that spreads throughout their profession, rather than just a vertical loyalty to the company for which they currently work. So all kinds of information will pass between these two.

Naturally, you have to watch out that your person doesn’t give away information that could be damaging to you. So be sure you pick the right person. Caution her carefully about what you’re willing to tell the other side and what you’re not willing to tell-the difference between the open agenda and your hidden agenda. Then let her go to it, challenging her to see how much she can find out. Peer-group information gathering is very effective.

Power Negotiators always accept complete responsibility for what happens in the negotiations. Poor negotiators blame the other side for the way they conducted themselves. Many years ago, I was conducting a negotiating seminar in the San Fernando Valley, and comedian Slappy White was in the audience. During the break, I told him how much I admired comedians. “It must be fun to be successful like you,” I told him, “but coming up through those comedy clubs with all their hostile audiences must be sheer hell.”
“Roger,” he told me, “I’ve never had a bad audience.”

“Oh, come on, Slappy,” I replied, “When you were starting out, you must have had some awful audiences.”

“I’ve never had a bad audience,” he repeated. “I’ve only had audiences that I didn’t know enough about.”

As a professional speaker, I accept that there is no such thing as a bad audience, there are only audiences about whom the speaker doesn’t know enough. I’ve built my reputation on the planning and research that I do before I’ll get up in front of an audience.

As a negotiator, I accept that there’s no such thing as a bad negotiation. There are only negotiations in which we don’t know enough about the other side. Information gathering is the most important thing we can do to assure that the negotiations go smoothly.

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