By Ian Newall, Open Course Manager, Huthwaite International
In 1981 Derby footballer Seth Johnston was approached by, at the time, top premiership club, Leeds United. His salary at Derby was around £15K per week.
Johnston thought he might expect a weekly wage of £20K at Leeds, maybe even £22K if he was lucky.
The Leeds Chairman Peter Risdale, sat Johnston down in his office and said, "I won't beat about the bush, Seth, it's £30K a week, take it or leave it."
A gob-smacked Johnston sat in stunned silence, unable to believe what he had just heard
Thrown off guard by the lack of reaction, Risdale then said, "OK, I can see you're a tough character, Seth - £37K and that's my final offer."
What had happened was not uncommon. Risdale found himself faced by a Low Reactor and did what unwary negotiators often do, caved in on price.
Low reactors are people who avoid agreeing or disagreeing, a tactic frequently used by buyers. Huthwaite research found that, when faced by Low Reactors, negotiators frequently lose control over their speaking pace, give too much information, repeat themselves unnecessarily, ask fewer questions and over react and exaggerate. Most of us find Low Reactors disconcerting and often try to provoke a reaction. Worst of all, sellers faced by a Low Reactor will often try to provoke a reaction by giving price reductions.
So how should we avoid the Low Reactor traps?
Try to predict when you will be faced by a Low Reactor. If you are negotiating with a buyer or procurement professional there is a very good chance that you will be dealing with a Low Reactor. Buyers have learned from experience that low reaction often brings concessions from the other side.
If you find yourself feeling uncomfortable and have a sense that power is slipping away from you, ask yourself if the person you are negotiating with is a Low Reactor.
If you think you are facing a Low Reactor:
• Take a deep breath and slow down.
• Ask questions to illicit a reaction or get the Low Reactor talking: "How do you feel about that?" "What do you think about our proposal to…?" "How do you suggest we handle this problem?" "Will you be comfortable with that?"
• Be comfortable with silence. Some Low Reactors are slow to respond. When you ask a question give them time to reply and don't try to fill the silence yourself.
You can learn more about the effective negotiation behaviours by attending a Huthwaite Negotiation Skills course - www.huthwaite.co.uk
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