Is legitimacy a dirty word in negotiation?

Imagine you are standing in the security queue at an airport. The airport is busy with families heading for sunny holidays and children are giggling excitedly. You have been waiting for 15 minutes and anticipate several more. Suddenly a stressed looking traveller with beads of sweat on their forehead arrives, breathless, and asks, “Can I go ahead of you?” What would you do? 

In this circumstance, there is often a mixed response. Some people say that it is ok for the traveller to push ahead, and others say no. There is no time for negotiation, what can they do?

legitimacy in negotiationWhat if in that situation the traveller says, “Can I go ahead of you because my flight is about to leave and I’m in a rush!” For many people this simple explanation of “why” is pivotal. The likelihood of a negative reply is significantly reduced.

This is a manifestation of ‘The Law of Legitimacy’.

This, I am sure, is not news to you. Human nature tends towards a need to understand, and therefore an explanation is logical following a request.

In The Complete Skilled Negotiator a The Gap Partnership training course, you will learn how to be empowered to use legitimacy, which we call positioning. Shift expectations before delivering your proposal by using a positioning statement. What we challenge is justifying your proposal when it is rejected. That indicates a lack of belief in your proposal and suggests it is moveable.

People make decisions using emotions. Something they like – a dress, a car, a phone – these things are chosen mostly because of how they make us feel in that moment. It is often later that we construct the reasoning behind the purchase.

I am sure we can all recall a moment when we have made an impulse purchase because it felt good, and then later created a reason that supports our decision so we can feel better than our decision was valid. As a negotiator, you can use positioning to provide these reasons. Not to justify your position, but on the contrary, to justify theirs!

When they eventually agree on terms with you, they will use your arguments to justify their decision.

Once you understand this subtlety then everything makes sense. Clients frequently sit across the table from their negotiation partner and try to argue why change is needed. The other side doesn’t care for these arguments. They see them as nonsense and dismiss them. They have their own view, a different one.

Layering complex arguments will not solve the problem, that can only be done through the delivery of proposals.

The TGP course Complete Skilled Negotiator is a behaviour change programme. Arguing does not help the negotiator maximise a deal. ‘They’ are not interested in your reason and continuing to present it, even in new formats, will not help.

TGP training changes your view of problem solving and negotiation, equipping you with new tools and new thinking. Flip your thought process. Present a concise reason before you deliver the proposal, not as just when they reject it. By considering this detail you shift from generating your own reason to giving them the reason to agree.

As partners in your deals, TGP always makes sure the other side understand the reasons and justification for their agreement. In fact, it’s essential they do so they can be pleased with it, and get agreement and approval from their boss. It just so happens that they will be using our justification, legitimately.