Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ever have a negotiator on the other side quote their resume or education?

I’ve been in negotiations where the negotiator on the other side mentions that they have an MBA from this school or a law degree from that school. There are a number of reasons why they could be doing that.One reason may be insecurity in the negotiation where they feel they will be more respected if they provide that information. Another reason may be ego motivated. Quoting a resume may also be just another tactic where the individual that is disclosing their resume is trying to establish themselves as a form of expert to give credence to their comments and positions by sharing that information.

When someone shares their resume or education in a negotiation, you can ignore it, acknowledge it, or sometimes use it when it’s to your advantage. What you should never do is respond in a way that will antagonize them by demeaning their credentials.

Many times the biggest offenders of this that I have found are individuals who attended the most prestigious universities in their country, especially lawyers when they think they are speaking with what they believe is a non-lawyer. I've had my share of lawyers who shared their credentials at the beginning of a negotiation. Then during the negotiation they have made statements that simply weren't legally correct or simply weren’t right from a business perspective. Being a lawyer myself I have the luxury of then questioning them if that’s what they learned when they went to their prestigious school, because "that's not the way I learned it in law school". I then proceed to share with them my credentials that shows that first I know what I’m talking about and they are not going to bluff me simply because they have those credentials. In calling their bluff with credible information they know that they have lost any credibility that those credentials might bring. Most people don't like to be surprised,but sometimes it may be necessary to change their behavior.

If it wasn’t a legal issue or if I weren't a lawyer, what I would normally do is either explain the problem that their position is creating. I would compare their position to what we receive from their competition. I might also explain to them the behavior they can expect from us from their position in a way that the salesperson involved in the negotiation will immediately recognize (lose the agreement, buy substantially less, qualify others, etc.). Many times these highly credentialed individuals may not have thoroughly considered what the impact would be of their position.

Being book smart doesn't make you business smart or street smart.