Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Mill's Helping Hand - Vol. 2: The Art Of The Deal

I've been known to swing a heavy stick at the bargaining table. Negotiating with me, I've been told, is a bit like being hit over the head with a 12 pound medicine ball over and over and over again. You're gently pummeled into submission. In other words, it's just very annoying at first. But your skull soon begins to hurt. Before you know it, you're unconscious. And your watch is missing. Sounds like I'm pretty much a professional negotiation ninja. Or so I'll have you believe. Come to think of it, why don't I give you some tips on negotiating?

Tip #1 - Never give in. Ever.
You must stand your ground no matter what. Even if that means negotiating back and forth into eternity. This is a simple rule of mine, which I strictly abide by during my daily routine. It doesn't just hold true for the negotiating table. For example, here's a recent conversation I had at the local diner:

Mill: "I'd like some meatloaf please."

Waitress: "Sorry sir. It's 7 am. We don't serve meatloaf until lunch time."

Mill: "No."

Waitress: "Pardon?"

Mill: "I said I'd like some meatloaf please. Thank you very much. That will be all."

Waitress: "Uh, sir. I'm sorry but we don't have meatloaf on the early-bird breakfast menu."

Mill: "Meatloaf. Now. Please. Thank you."

And so on for the next 4 hours, until lunch was served. So you see, I basically win no matter what. I'm ruthless. And that brings us to the next tip.

Tip #2 - Be ruthless.
Have zero ruth. Do not be ruthful. But rather, be the opposite. This may not be the best way to win friends, but it certainly gets you want you want more often than being a pushover. You must try your best to appear cold and calculating. Do not let your emotions get the best of you, unless you happen to be negotiating for a shoulder to cry on. In that case, if you cry, and you can get the tears on someone's shoulder, then you win. But otherwise, try not to cry. Or laugh. You are allowed to get angry, though, as that will make you appear even more ruthless. I don't have any examples of me being ruthless, so I'll just make something up. This one happened, um, like, last month or whatever:

Mill: "Hi. Can I have your dog?"

Surprised Dogwalker: "Hi. What? No."

Mill: "I'll have your dog now. Thanks."

Surprised Dogwalker: "Sorry. Please leave me alone. You can't have the dog."

Mill: (petting the dog, talking to dog) "Nice dog. You're mine now."

Surprised Dogwalker: "It's not even my dog. But even if it were, you couldn't have it. Please leave us alone."

Mill: "No. It's fine. I brought my own leash." (presents leash from back pocket)

Surprised Dogwalker: "Are you high? You can't have the dog. What kind of lunatic asks for someone's dog?"

Mill: "Oh, I'm sorry. Perhaps English is your second language. Allow me to repeat slowly."

Surprised Dogwalker: "Listen, I'm walking away now. Briskly. And if you keep harassing me, I'll call the police."

Mill: (pointing at dog) "My dog."

With that, I put the obstinate dogwalker into a figure-four leglock. She submitted about 5 minutes later, which is quite an impressive length of time to hold out, for a 75 year-old. And that's the story of how I got my dog. And how ruthlessness prevailed.

After a very successful day of ruthless negotiating.

OK, fine. That was a terrible story, and completely fabricated. But I just wanted to drive home this point. If you're negotiating for something you want, whether it be a dog, a person, a car, a sandwich, whatever, you need to be persistent and focused. Maybe ruthless is not quite the right word. I meant persistent and focused. But probably being ruthless would help too. Or at least be whiny. Which reminds me of my next tip.

Tip #3 - Whine incessantly. Whoever whines, wins. That's what I've always said. And it's true for the most part. Some of the greatest negotiators in history simply sniveled and sobbed their way to success. Time and again, history has demonstrated this. So there's no need for me to demonstrate it here. You should just accept the notion that the toughest opponents will always yield to your extremely annoying bellyaching. Especially if you're also able to be persistent, focused, ruthless, and unrelenting all at once.

With these tips, you can't possibly lose. You'll be a dangerous adversary in any negotiations. So go haggle with that used car dealer. Ask your boss for a raise. Solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Get a free dog. The world is yours for the taking.

1 comment:

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