Haggling Over The Truth

My grandfather was legendary for his ability to haggle.  In fact, he would often say there wasn’t just one price for an item – there were three.  There was the price the shop owner wanted, the price that he wanted, and the price that the item would ultimately sell for.

My grandfather used this line over and over again to disarm even the most contentious salesman. It’s part of what made him fun to work with and left a lasting impression on anyone who did business with him.

Despite his passing, his voice still rings in my head whenever I enter into negotiations with anyone. Most often, it’s applicable not just in prices, but in ascertaining truth in a situation.

Think about it. We’re all motivated by something. Oftentimes we’ll spin the truth in our favor if we think it’s going to help our cause.  Put two people together with two different sets of motivations and you’ll likely get two different versions of the truth.

The thing is that there aren’t just two versions of the truth – there are three.  The third and final version is the actual truth of the situation, sans any spin or backend motivation.

In negotiations, almost no one wants to acknowledge this version of the truth.  The reason for this is that the actual truth doesn’t help anyone.  In fact, in most cases, it finds fault and value in both parties.

The more I experience in business, the more convinced I am that this third truth is what we should be aiming for. Rather than trying to forward my own version of the truth, or trying to discredit yours, why not do what my grandfather did? Why not cut through the cross-talk and acknowledge the differences?

Rather than viewing differences as weaknesses, we can view as them as a part of the truth.  Perhaps then we can spend more time working towards what really needs to get done.

The funny thing about my grandfather’s technique was that he often didn’t get the best price for what he was asking for.  Then again, the shop owner didn’t get the best price, either.  Ultimately, the price fell somewhere in the middle.  The funny thing is that the more you look, the middle is also where you’ll most often the truth as it actually exists.

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