Seven Quick Negotiating Tips from Columbo – Article

[NOTE: This is another in the series of repostings of my previously-published articles. This article is from my "Practical Technology Contract Review News," a newsletter I did a couple of years ago, before concentrating on blogging and other writing efforts. This article is meant to be fun, but still give you some helpful tips about negotiation. And, yep, my daughter and I are still Columbo fans.]
Seven Quick Negotiating Tips from Columbo.
My daughter and I have been watching reruns of the old Columbo TV show. It struck me that there are some good lessons to learn from these shows about contract negotiations. Consider these:
1. Do Not Underestimate the Opposing Party. The criminals always make the assumption that Columbo is not an opponent who matches up to the high opinion they have of themselves.
2. “Bear with me, I’m just trying to understand this.” Columbo often uses this tactic to get his adversary to spin out explanations of events in ways that show contradictions. Try this: “Bear with me, I’m just trying to understand how if your software infringes someone’s copyright, and we can’t even see the source code, why should we bear the risk of an infringement claim instead of you.”
3. “My superiors want me to tie up all the loose ends. You know how they can be.” This tactic is actually a variation of #2. The advantage is that you can keep a friendly relationship and blame the boss.
4. Be Polite But Be Persistent. Columbo uses a very high level of patience combined with a dogged persistence. He remains personally likeable while continuing to move toward his goal. The opposing party still likes you, but they reach a point where they just want you to stop coming back to the same point about the damage cap, and may become willing to give on the point.
5. Ask for the Opposing Party’s Help. A good tactic when you reach the endgame stage. “Can you help me out? If we can just get these two points – and they really are minor points when you think about it – then I know we’ll get the signature and put this one to bed.”
6. “Just one more thing.” Columbo says this signature line as he gets to the door to leave, as if he has just remembered a small point that slipped his mind – almost as an afterthought. The “one more thing,” in fact, deals with his major reason for having the conversation in the first place. Psychologically, Columbo’s opponent has already mentally “closed the door” on the conversation, dropping his or her guard, and leaving an opening to make the point with greater effect.
7. Keep Your Focus. Misdirection plays an important role in Columbo’s style and approach. However, his focus never wavers from his goal of solving the case.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
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