I am terrible at convincing people because I try too hard to convince them.
I was having a debate with my partner about birthday gifts. Her friend’s birthday is tonight and she is stressing about buying a gift last minute for her friend.
My belief is that birthday gifts, or any holiday related gifts, must not be forced. Meaning that society shouldn’t tell you when the time is due to get gifts for someone rather you should be prompted to get a gift when you feel like getting the gift for that person.
It also makes it much more memorable to get someone a gift when it is least expected.
Let’s take my best friend as an example. His birthday was approaching and he has been with his girlfriend for about 2 years. His girlfriend was planning to buy him something special on his birthday and so she had contacted me for some advice.
I think I restrained from giving her my usual spiel about birthday gifts, so I told her which one of the options he would like that she had chosen.
When the day came, my partner surprised me with some news. As least expected my best friend, whose birthday it was, ended up getting his girlfriend a gift. Talk about spontaneous. This is memorable. So memorable that two years later I still remember it vividly.
No one knew that my best friend was going to surprise his girlfriend with a gift on his own birthday. That’s what made it special. That is thoughtful.
What is not thoughtful is getting someone a gift along with 30 other people on the same day. Guess what, it’s like hitting a piñata to get the prize inside only to find 100 of the same candy’s fall out.
Your gift along with the other meaningless gifts get tossed at the back of the pile with a reciprocation of some fake smiles and gestures of gratitude.
Talk about cliché, getting gifts that actually become meaningless and thoughtless.
How can a gift be thoughtful if there is an external reason to get the gift? I am sure it comes from a place of wanting to do the right thing, but sometimes the right thing isn’t what it made out to be.
I was called cheap, and that I shouldn’t be pushing my beliefs onto others.
I am okay with the insults, what I am not okay with is the realization that the harder I try to convince someone of my beliefs the less convincing I do.
I don’t think my beliefs are right, I believe their right for me.
So how can I carry on?
This boils down to the art of negotiation, even though I am not negotiating anything material, I am still negotiating something of substance; values.
For this, I will turn to Herb Cohen a negotiation expert. He deals specifically with negotiation strategies for government crisis and commercial dealings.
He explains in his tactful book You Can Negotiate Anything that there are three logical factors to consider when negotiating with someone:
- Help the other person understand by using analogies that they understand.
- Your Evidence must be overwhelming that it can’t be disputed.
- In believing you, you must meet their existing needs and desires.
It is also wise not to tell the other person what to think or how to think, but rather give them a theory and let them construct their own thoughts and solutions if they choose too.
People are guarded because being wrong doesn’t feel good, and in this case, no one is wrong. It’s not wrong to get someone a gift when the occasion arises.
I learned that its best not to make the person feel like their wrong because that’s when the wall goes up.
And we know what the German’s said when the berlin wall came down. “Walls don’t work.”
Okay maybe that’s out of context, but talking about unexpectedness and walls I felt it was appropriate timing to put that in there.
Some experts will agree that whoever is stonewalling it will be difficult to persuade them. There are tactics around that, but I want to stick to my main thesis.
In conclusion, get gift’s when you feel it’s right to get them, surprise works well when it is a good surprise.
Negotiation is an art and should not be taken lightly, even when your negotiating ideas and beliefs.
If you want to be calculating care less not more. The more you show you care the more you have to lose.
And lastly, I learned from Herb that change and new ideas need to be introduced in bite sized pieces consistently. It is when ideas become familiar that they soon become acceptable.
Thank you for reading this post, my purpose was not to convince you of anything but to give you practical advice in your next negotiation debut.
To be continued….
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