Retailers don’t go around announcing this in their holiday sales ads. But did you know that in-store retail prices aren’t engraved in stone? It’s true. They’re negotiable, just like pretty much everything else in life. Knowing that kind of changes the whole feel of the holiday shopping experience, doesn’t it. The trick is to know what to do and how to do it. Having some negotiation training under your belt definitely helps. Beyond that, it’s a simple question of knowing where to apply those negotiation skills. And to help with that information, we assembled this infographic full of tips on which stores you can get the best deals at and how to negotiate with retailers on Black Friday.
Settling for something less than what we think we deserve can feel like giving up. Compromise, on the other hand, leaves us feeling like we’ve taken something away from a deal. The question then, is what is the difference between compromising and settling? Is one better than the other? Should both be avoided? How can businesses win through compromise? Once you know the difference, you can answer questions like this and make your negotiations more successful.
The Difference between Compromising and Settling
Whether a negotiation feels like you’ve settled or like you’ve reached a compromise may depend on the way decisions were reached, rather than on the actual outcome. The language for each implies that two or more parties will commit to something, namely, upholding the decision that is reached.
Settling, however, does not imply negotiation. Instead, settling usually involves a unilateral decision. In other words, a person selling his or her house may be settling for an asking price when he or she knows the home is actually worth more. A teacher given a specific curriculum to follow may have to settle in certain areas because he or she did not design that curriculum. The principal or other administrator decided this was what would be used, and the teacher needs to abide by that decision.
In contrast, compromise implies negotiation. Both parties have to “surrender” to some extent, but at the same time, both get some of what they want. Compromise involves the objective understanding of how much you and other people are worth. It also involves agreement to a plan that will benefit all involved parties instead of a unilateral decision that will benefit only some people at the table.
Why You Don’t Want to Settle
Settling is generally seen as negative for many reasons. As mentioned, it gives involved parties less freedom. Additionally, settling can mean secrecy. This doesn’t always mean making agreements behind closed doors. Sometimes it simply means omitting information for someone else’s benefit. For instance, your friends usually don’t know that you settled for seeing the movie they want to see – but that you will hate – because you didn’t speak up. Your supervisor may not know that you settled for less time off because something in her body language or tone intimidated you.
Settling often leads to dissatisfaction, which can fester and become anger. To avoid this, you need to know how to make effective compromises.
Once you know you’ll have to compromise, step back and analyze what the other person or people are telling you. What is their greatest need right now? For example, you might be asking for a raise at a time when your company is financially strapped. Ask yourself if there is a way to be satisfied with less money than you expected, while still getting more. Perhaps instead of a 10% raise, you could ask for 5%. Maybe your supervisor could give you a small consulting fee or overtime pay instead of a permanent raise for the work you already do.
If you need to know more about compromising and how to do it effectively, our negotiation training can help you.
November 19, 2015, marks the 152nd anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, a speech that is regarded as one of the most masterful public addresses in history. Some of the elements of oratory artistry Abraham Lincoln used that day remain relevant to negotiation training and really, any persuasive pursuit, to this day. That fact is a bit ironic since the content of Abraham Lincoln’s speech itself, dismissed the importance, and life expectancy of the words he spoke.
“The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here …” he said, “… but it can never forget what they did here.”
The fact that Lincoln humbly shrugged off the content of a his own message, reducing his own words to simple phonemes that ring through the air for just a split second then disappear into the aether forever points to his rhetorical techniques. He set the stage with a string of words that explicitly demerited the person who spoke them and pointed the hearts of the audience away from the persona, and toward some other truth. That is not to say that persuasive speaking takes the form of misdirection, although there may be sleight-of-hand involved. As the 20th century French language scholar, Jaques Derrida once wrote, “Speech never gives the thing itself, but a simulacrum that touches us more profoundly than the truth, “strikes” us more effectively.”
Derrida’s use of the verb, “strikes,” directs our attention to the centerpiece of our Gettysburg Address commemoration, which is this. Speech is an act. It’s a thing that a person does. In spite of Lincoln’s own dismissiveness, history certainly remembers both what he did, and said that day. So, let’s talk more about Lincoln’s actions on that day and the legacy they left behind.
The Battle of Gettysburg
The American civil war saw some of the bloodiest battles in U.S. history. The Battle of Gettysburg, which had taken place months earlier, July 1-3, 1863, was the worst of them. At the end of the three-day conflict, more than between 46,000 and 51,000 servicemen were either killed, wounded, or missing. It was far more bloodshed than the public on either side of the conflict could rationalize.
The price of war in the aftermath weighed heavily on the hearts and minds of the Northern public where a peace movement had been gathering support for some time. Reluctance to continue also crept into minds of the soldiers, and military commanders, as well as President Lincoln. It also weighed on the Confederacy. The Battle of Gettysburg marked a major turning point in the conflict. The Confederacy’s campaign to invade the north in full force had been pushed back. Robert E. Lee’s long-standing reputation for invincibility in battle was permanently dispelled.
Strategically speaking, however, the immediate southern reaction to the battle was that it was a setback, not a disaster and that many of the Confederacy’s military goals had been largely achieved. The sentiment was that Lee won the day on July 1. Confederate troops fought valiantly the following two days, but failed to dislodge the Union Army from strong defensive positions outside the city. And once defeated, the Confederates successfully stood their ground on July 4, and retreated further only after realizing the Union lacked the will to pursue and attack. Ultimately it was a defeat that Lee handled with his usual mastery. The full scope of the events at Gettysburg were not understood to be a turning point until later.
The Battle of Gettysburg had opened up a critical opportunity for Union forces to destroy the Confederate Army once and for all. But, it was an opportunity they had missed when the moment was ripe. According to one historian, President Lincoln complained to Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles stating, “Our army held the war in the hollow if their hand and they would not close it.”
How the Speech Set the Tone for Victory
Northern enthusiasm dissipated in the months between July and November that year, as workers labored to construct the Soldier’s National Cemetery at Gettysburg, and word spread that Lee’s army had escaped destruction and the war would need to continue. President Lincoln needed an opportunity to muster the Union’s resolve and press the advantage while there was still time.
Reburial of Union soldiers from Gettysburg Battlefield graves to new grave sites at the National Soldier’s Cemetery had begun October 17. President Lincoln had been invited to “formally set apart these grounds to their sacred use by a few appropriate remarks,” by David Willis of the committee for the consecration of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg. The occasion presented Lincoln with the opportunity rededicate public resolve to seeing the war all the way through. Lincoln’s address followed a tiresome speech lasting more than two hours given by the well-known Massachusetts statesman, Edward Everett. Lincoln needed only two minutes to accomplish his goals.
Multiple historians noted significant parallels between the timing, context, and rhetorical tone Lincoln’s speech, with the speech given by the Athenian politician, Pericles’, recorded by Thucydides in The History of the Peloponnesian War. For one, the timing and setting for The Gettysburg Address precisely mirror Pericles’s speech. Public funerals commemorating the sacrifices of fallen soldiers were an established Athenian tradition by the fifth century B.C. And even though it’s uncertain how much influence the History of the Peloponnesian War had on Lincoln, the rhetorical parallels are very plain to see. Lincoln began with an acknowledgment of revered predecessors, with the phrase, “Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent…”
Like Pericles, Lincoln praised the uniqueness of the State’s commitment to democracy by stating, “..a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…government of the people, by the people, and for the people…” Like Pericles, Lincoln Addresses the heavy emotional burdens carried by speakers on such occasions, “…we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.” And ultimately, like Pericles, Lincoln exhorts the survivors to vindicate the dead by emulating their deeds, “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the great task remaining before us.”
Speech is an act, and a powerful one at that. Despite any appeals to humility, great speeches and great speakers like Abraham Lincoln, and like Pericles before him, are always remembered. The Gettysburg Address is regarded as one of the greatest, most concise, yet most influential statements of national purpose on record. In two minutes, Lincoln reiterated the principles of human equality espoused by the Declaration of Independence. He equated the Civil War with a struggle for the preservation of the Union that had been rent asunder by the secession of the southern states. At the same time he redefined the war to be more than just a partisan political struggle to preserve the Union and federal authority over states, but also to preserve the very paradigm in which partisan struggles could be moderated by a fair democratic process for generations to come; another parallel to Athenian history. We all know the final outcome. The Union Army pressed the advantage and eventually won the war. And a year-and-a-half after speaking at Gettysburg, Lincoln was assassinated.
We believe that there is always a model for success that can be studied, repurposed, and followed. We also teach that persuasion, whatever, and wherever the context, is far more than just words. Abraham Lincoln’s techniques are as good a model for someone to follow today, as Pericles’s techniques were for Lincoln 152 years ago.
In his eulogy to the slain president, Senator Charles Sumner referred to The Gettysburg Address as a “monumental act,” also noting that Lincoln had been mistaken in his thought that “the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here.” Rather, Sumner remarked, “The world noted at once what he said, and will never cease to remember it. The battle itself was less important than the speech.”
Whether you are negotiating for a raise, time off, or the sale of a new product, every word and movement in a negotiation is crucial. Most people know to choose their words carefully while negotiating, but body language is often forgotten. The way we toss our head, flail our hands and crisscross our legs all influence negotiations in distinctive ways, so using the right body language is vital to success.
Copycat for Success
Researchers often find that the longer two people are in the same room, the more they mimic each other’s body language and gestures. For example, you might come into your supervisor’s office to negotiate a raise and find that after twenty minutes, you’re both leaning back with your legs crossed. Most people feel silly when they realize this is happening or worry that mimicry will make them look like they are brownnosing, so they stop doing it.
Researchers, however, tend to agree that mimicry or mirroring is positive. Mimicking someone else’s body language or gestures, even unconsciously, shows a desire to build rapport. Additionally, most people find that clients who mimic them are more persuasive and honest than those who do not.
If you negotiate frequently, chances are you will eventually come across someone who you find challenging to converse with. This person may ask you the same type of questions over and over. He or she may pronounce a common word in a way that annoys you or unconsciously drum his or her fingers on the table. No matter the behavior, it can be difficult to hide your irritation.
Researchers have performed studies to determine whether people can hide their reactions to emotionally charged images. The studies found that although discomfort is difficult to hide, untrained observers do not often detect it. In other words, your client may not realize his finger-drumming distracts you, or your boss may not realize you’re nervous during a meeting. That being said, experts recommend that you stay as constructive as possible. Use neutral body language, and phrase criticisms constructively.
Have a Handshake
For decades, experts have advised employees to maintain a firm, warm handshake. While firm handshakes are still preferable, handshakes of any kind make people feel comfortable and respected. If you can’t grip someone’s hand as firmly as a colleague, or if your hands are naturally cold, don’t despair. The fact that you made the gesture will show the other person you are serious about negotiations and care what they have to say.
Keep Eye Contact
Eye contact is difficult for many people. In fact, some people from countries outside the US may find it offensive. However, good eye contact is key for US and Canadian negotiations. Maintain it to show your honesty and interest in the other person. Try not stare or focus too long on one point. This can be interpreted as aggression. Feel free to look away while thinking or deciding how to word something. If you naturally have trouble with eye contact – for example, you are from a culture that frowns on it – let the other person know. That way, he or she won’t assume you’re being evasive.