What do you know about value?
“… I’m so sorry for your inconvenience. I can upgrade you to a better room.” Those were the words spoken by a front desk person at a 5-star hotel. He was informing a guest of what he could do as the result of the patron experiencing a restless night. The patron’s restlessness was due to his loud neighbors in other rooms on the floor. The patron had begun calling the front desk around 12-midnight to complain. Throughout the night, he called several more times – all to no avail to squelch the noise that prevented him from sleeping. He thought to himself, and this yammering is ceaseless.
When he checked out of the hotel the next morning, he told the desk manager of his experience. The manager extended apologies on behalf of the hotel, stated that the night’s stay would be removed from the guest’s bill and asked if there was anything else that he could do. The patron said no. I appreciate the gestures you’ve made. Then he said, “all I wanted was a good night’s sleep. I have an important meeting today. And I just wanted to be fresh and well-rested.” As he left the hotel, he wondered if he’d ever stay at that location again.
Do you see the difference between how the front desk person and the desk manager addressed the situation? It’s slight. But it’s also powerful. The desk manager extended apologies, and he asked the guest if there was anything else that he could do. He was seeking the guest’s perspective of value. In other words, he wanted to know what was essential to the guest. If you don’t know what someone values, you don’t know what to offer them. That means you’re making blind offers when doing so in a negotiation.
When you negotiate, there are five factors to keep in mind about value.
- People have a different perspective on what they value and why. Once you know their value perspective, seek to understand it.
- Don’t assume because someone is like you that they’ll like you. Even when people have similar values, there will be nuances that separate their opinions about value. To assume you share exact ideals as your negotiation counterpart can lead to offers and counteroffers that are not valued. In a worst-case scenario, such offers can be damaging to your negotiation efforts.
- When you’re unsure of a person’s value, ask what they’d least like to lose. The reply will indicate what is of most importance.
- To test someone about their value, ask, “if there’s one thing that I could grant you in this negotiation, what would it be?” Once again, that person’s value proposition will reside in their response.
- This last suggestion may fall into the red herring category. It entails discovering something you possess that’s of great value to the other negotiator. Entice that person to believe that he can acquire it but at a very high cost. The higher he’s willing to pay for the acquisition, the higher the value of possessing it will be. Be cautious when engaging this means of acquiring someone’s value perspective. If you don’t allow them to receive it after getting them to make substantial offers, they could become unwilling to grant you much after that. Then, the negotiation might hit a roadblock.
To become a better negotiator, you must always understand what is of value to your negotiation counterpart. Once you do, making better offers will be more comfortable – because you’ll know which offers possess the highest value… and everything will be right with the world.