I’d like you to imagine the following scene.
At some point in the late fifteenth century, Christopher Columbus went full Shark Tank pitching to the Catholic Monarchs his project of reaching the Indies directly across the Atlantic Ocean.
He asked for ships, crew and provisions to do what everyone (supposed) could be done because since ancient Greece it was already known that our planet was round… but no one dared to slash it proven.
The fact is that Columbus was quite persistent and spent nine (Yes, 9!) Years requesting financing for the expedition.
We can picture him standing in front of Ferdinand and Isabella, saying something like this:
— Oh, by the way, I almost forgot. Besides the ships, the crew and the provisions, I have one last request.
— What is it? —Isabella would say.
— That I’m conferred the titles of Admiral of the Ocean Sea, Viceroy and Governor, as well as a 10% cut of all earnings.
I hope that Ferdinand wasn’t drinking anything in that exact moment, because he would have choked, thoroughly drenching Isabella.
Such a request competes with the titles of Game of Thrones characters.
If you asked for something like this today, the title would be more or less like: “Maximum Leader Influencer, Duke of the Internet, Governor of everything visible in the worldly world, #YOLO”, and granted by the Queen of England herself.
Still more baffling is that they finally conceded all of his requests.
You know the rest of the story.
Historians still don’t agree on what prompted the Monarchs to finally sponsor the expedition of this dude that seemed half visionary and half crazy.
(Although they did not take it out of their pocket. They borrowed the money).
The crucial thing about this anecdote is to remember that sometimes we persist so much in something that in the end, exhaustion could lead us to give in and split the difference.
Columbus spent those nine years hellbent on his vision; surely he had moments of serious self-doubt, but that didn’t make him falter in his spectacular demands.
I’m almost certain that this effort combined with the absurd request, sparked admiration within Isabella and Ferdinand.
In other words: “If this guy has the brass balls to ask for such nonsense, and persist for so many years, he must mean business.”
So the absurd request, rather than being an obstacle, was what tipped the scales in his favor.
Negotiation experts such as Chris Voss suggest that you should always let the other party make the first offer.
But there are scenarios in which you simply can’t do it; In those moments I recommend that you apply the Columbus technique.
First define what would leave you totally, and I mean totally, satisfied.
Now, raise it by 30% or 40%.
The worst thing that can happen is that you have to ‘yield’ that increase.
It may seem common sense… but too many times, and in all kinds of negotiations, we get carried away by the ‘middle ground’ and end up deeply dissatisfied, if not frustrated.
You know that feeling very well. You even remember vividly that moment in which, despite ‘winning’ the negotiation, you felt bad for surrendering what you know is your fair value.
You negotiate every day.
You know that it’s not just about business or money.
In virtually all your daily interactions, you negotiate something that interests you.
So why don’t you apply these techniques that have been proven for centuries?
Start by defining your non-negotiable value.
Make sure to write it down and carve it in your very own self.
Of course: you also have to influence the perception they have of you, even before you sit down to negotiate; How and when to present your proposal, and how to get the ‘Yes’ to spark directly in the mind of the other party.
In my online course on Body Language and Persuasion, I explain this negotiation process in detail, and how you can apply it in your company.
You can check the info at: https://knesix.com/body-language-certification/
And if you need to apply these negotiation and persuasion techniques for your company, let’s talk.
Much success to you!
Jesús Enrique Rosas — firstname.lastname@example.org