Looking for Honesty in Communication

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Posted in Book of the Month, Uncategorized

In this month's book review of Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury, I examine the growing importance of openness and honesty in a changing business world, and consider: is "playing the game" becoming obsolete?


Let me save you some time... There are two very useful points in "Getting to Yes" by Roger Fisher and William Ury:

1) It is better to have a win/win negotiated agreement than no agreement at all.

2) Know what your options are if an agreement is not possible so you don't end up in a bad agreement.

These points are driven home over and over again throughout the 200 page book. You're welcome.

What I found disappointing with the book was the way it encouraged manipulation as a form of "principled negotiating".

Telling readers to use phrases such as "You want to be fair, don't you?" or "You are not unreasonable, are you?" in order to help the other side "save face" seemed ridiculous.

Perhaps it is more reflective of my frustration of having to "play the game" when it comes to sales and sales negotiation. What to say... what not to say...what to wear...where do I sit in the room?

I just wished that people could be more up front and honest. I understand that customers want to pay the lowest price possible, and that vendors want to sell for the highest price possible but couldn't there be a way to agree on value without being deceptive?

Why are we still "paying the game", if the game is no fun?

Wouldn't it be great if we met and we were able to be completely open about our needs and we were able to come to an agreement without hidden agendas?

How much time and energy could be saved if we weren't trying to low ball each other or get the most out of someone else without appearing to be greedy or outrageously priced? What if a salary could be agreed upon based on the value an individual brings to an organization and not on how little the company could pay without running the risk of losing them to their competition?

What if a house was listed at the price the home was really worth and not set at a price that was either a little too high knowing that potential home buyers will offer lower prices as a standard practice, or setting a price that is intentionally too low in order to start a bidding war?

I know of a man who refused to pay a youth in his neighbourhood the rates he was charging for lawn care services because they were too low.

Imagine that conversation: "I should be paying you twice as much as you are charging" "But I can't charge that much, I am only 15 years old" "The only way I will use your services, is if you accept this larger amount of money" The customer knew what the value of the service was and the vendor thought that due to his age, he could only charge a certain rate. In the end, the customer was able to convince the young man to take more money for the service.

Knowing that he was being paid more for the service for this customer, the youth provided the best possible service. Both customer and supplier were satisfied.

Perhaps one of the challenges with the books I have read is how old they are. This particular one was first published over 20 years ago. The world has changed so much and many business transactions now are based on mutual trust and benefit.

With the advent of social media, you can not afford to be known as "that guy who can't be trusted" in your customer's social circle, as that social circle may include thousands of people worldwide.

Word of mouth reputations can be made or destroyed in a few keystrokes. There really is no room for hidden agendas anymore.

Have you ever had a bad negotiating experience?

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