Get What You Want By Bringing A Purple Monkey To Your Next Negotiation

by drjim on January 6, 2012

The purple monkey will help you get what you want in a negotiation

The purple monkey will help you get what you want in a negotiation

How did your last negotiation go? Did you and the other side of the table spend your time working through a long list of demands that the other side had made? Did you end up feeling as though you had negotiated for a very long time? The next time that you prepare for a negotiation, you need to come up with a way to streamline the process so that you can reach an agreement quickly. It turns out that you can make this happen by bringing a purple monkey to the negotiations.

Don’t Let The Other Side Control The Negotiation

When you sit down to negotiate, who’s in charge? I mean, it’s either you or them, right? Why let them take charge? Why not seize the reigns of the negotiation process right off the bat and take charge?

If you don’t do this, then what can happen? In short order, no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques you are using, you may find yourself spending a lot of time talking about things that you really don’t want to be talking about. Things that you don’t want to talk about can be broken into two groups: trivial things and dangerous things.

Trivial things are those things that show up on the long list of push-backs to your proposal that you get from the other side. It’s always very hard to determine which of these items are real issues, and which ones have just been brought up so that the other side has some negotiating currency to play around with.

Dangerous things are those issues that you really don’t want to have to negotiate about with the other side of the table. These can relate to shortcomings that you know that your offer has, or issues where you have not been given any flexibility by your management. No matter what the cause is, you know that if you have to spend a lot of time discussing these types of issues, things are not going to go well for you.

How A Purple Monkey Can Help You Control The Negotiation

If you want to take control of your next negotiation, then you need to bring a purple monkey to the table. No, I’m not suggesting that you go down to the zoo and ask for a loaner — that wouldn’t be part of a principled negotiation. Rather, I’m going to suggest that you do a little bit of work before the negotiations start in order to ensure that they go the way that you want them to go.

Here’s what you need to do. Take a look at the issue that you’re going to be negotiating. Focus on the proposal that you’ll be bringing to the table. Now, go ahead and add an unreasonable request to your proposal. Something that you know that the other side just won’t be able to sit for. Slide it right in there and make sure that nobody removes it before it gets presented to the other side.

This unreasonable request is your “purple monkey”. It’s so big and unacceptable that it’s going to completely capture the other side’s attention. They are going to look at that and instantly they are going to start to try to come up with ways to get you to remove it from your proposal.

Oh sure, you will eventually remove it. However, it’s going to take a lot of convincing by the other side to get you to do it. The effect of this is that the other side is going to be distracted and they’re not going to notice all of the trivial things that they would otherwise put on a list to negotiate with you.

Likewise, that purple monkey is going to be so distracting that there is a very good chance that the other side won’t think to bring up the dangerous issues that you really don’t want to talk about. Simply by bringing the purple monkey to the table, you’ve taken control of the negotiation and you’ve steered it in the direction that you wanted it to go.

What All Of This Means For You

In any negotiations, there are going to be demands placed on you by the other side of the table – there’s nothing that you can do about this. However, what you can control is what those demands are and how many of them there are.

In order to prevent the other side from creating a long list of items to be discussed over a long period of time, be proactive. When you make your initial proposal to them, include a purple monkey in it. This item is one that you know will be completely unacceptable to the other side. In fact, it will completely gain their attention and make them insist that it be removed from your proposal. By causing them to focus on your purple monkey, you’ll shorten the list of other items that need to be negotiated.

Although adding this purple monkey technique to your negotiation definition may seem to be simple to do, it turns out that it is very powerful. Take control of your next negotiation by spending the time before the negotiation and find out how you can bring your purple monkey to the table so that you can reach a better deal quicker.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that you should limit yourself to bringing only one purple monkey to the negotiation or should you bring more?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

What’s your goal for your next negotiation? If you are like 99.9% of the other negotiators out there, you want to have the other side agree to your requests while at the same time not having to agree to too many of their requests. Hmm, how best to make this happen? It turns out that one of the keys to having the negotiation process turn out the way that you want them to starts long before the actual negotiations do – it happens when the room where you’ll be doing your negotiation is selected.

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