Negotiators Need To Learn How To Deal With Experts

by drjim on April 6, 2012

Just because he's an expert, doesn't mean that you should give in…

Just because he’s an expert, doesn’t mean that you should give in…

So let’s think about your next negotiating session. There you are and everything is going along quite nicely. You are making your points and the other side doesn’t seem to be objecting to them too much. All of a sudden another person arrives and joins the other side of the table. They are introduced as an expert and they then proceed to tear big holes in the justifications that you had given for the deal that you were proposing. Dang it – done in by an expert once again.

Why Experts Cause Us So Much Trouble

You are a bright, smart negotiator. Why does the arrival of an expert at a negotiating session cause you so much trouble? What seems to happen is that when an expert shows up, all of a sudden we shut up. We are no longer willing to exert ourselves.

What’s up with this? It turns out that one of the big problems that we encounter when an expert shows up is that they speak funny. It’s like they have a completely different vocabulary that they use when they talk about the part of the negotiation that they’ve been brought in for. All we can do is sit back and take it in – we don’t have the same vocabulary.

When we find ourselves in the presence of an expert, we do pretty much anyone else would do – we become passive. We really don’t want to speak up because we fear looking foolish. The problem with this response to authority is that we can allow the negotiations that we are involved in to slip away from us because we’ve become quiet.

How To Handle Experts In A Negotiation

This all leads us to the really big question: what can a negotiator do when the other side brings an expert to a negotiation session? Short of asking them to go away, is there some magic technique that we can use to deal with them?

The answer, somewhat surprisingly, is yes. Right off the bat, you need to have a talk with yourself when an expert shows up. What you need to remind yourself about is the simple fact that nobody is an expert in everything. In fact, the more that someone knows about something, then the less they probably know about more things.

The other thing that you need to keep in mind is two simple words “so what?” Yes, the other person is an expert in some area and you are not. However, if this deal is going to happen, then you are going to have to agree to it. The expert may have many valid points to make, but who cares? At the end of the day it’s going to be up to you to either accept or reject what they say. The really neat part about this is that it does not matter if they are correct or not – you can reject what they say even if they are right!

What All Of This Means For You

Nothing can screw up a good negotiation like the arrival of an expert. For some reason when we are in the presence of someone who has been introduced to us as an expert, we freeze up. Our negotiation skills seem to vanish.

The reasons for this differ from negotiator to negotiator, but it’s all due to the fact that we don’t know how to handle someone who clearly knows a lot more about a subject than we do. What we need to learn to do is to understand that there are limits to how much any one expert can know. This coupled with the fact that their opinion won’t control the outcome of the negotiations means that you still have the power.

We can’t do anything about having experts introduced into a negotiation. However, what we can do is to decide just how influenced by their presence we want to allow ourselves to become. Minimize their influence over you and you can still reach a great deal with the other side of the table.

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

Question For You: When an expert gets introduced to the negotiating table, do you think that you should call for a time out?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Intimidation can take on many forms during the course of a sales negotiation. One of the forms of intimidation that we are all very familiar with is when the other side of the table starts to raise the stakes. All of a sudden, what used to be a simple negotiation process suddenly become a lot more important. What’s a negotiator to do?

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