Why? AKA: Tell me more. Please explain. That’s interesting.
Description: A non-threatening, neutrally phrased Why? in response to an aggressive proposal or emotional trigger is just what you need to get a contentious negotiation back on track. It’s not a challenge. It should come across as a genuine(ish) inquiry. You want to understand this new proposal. Totally innocent and non-
Sample Usage: “That’s interesting, Bob. Honestly, I hadn’t even considered reinvesting the partnership's profits for 5 years. Can you explain the logic behind that?”
Intent: Buy time, gain information.
Style: Best with Collaborative or Accommodative, but works with any style.
Counter: Benchmarking, Big Story, (take the Why? as an opening to reframe your position).
Combinations: Breathe, Silence, Appeal to Reason, Flinch
Note: Why? is a general-purpose countertactic that can keep you in control of a difficult negotiation. If your counter-party hits you with a Now or Never or Take It Or Leave It challenge, you don’t have to respond directly. Change the energy by CALMLY asking – “why is it so urgent all of a sudden – is everything OK at your firm?”
Don’t be challenging or aggressive. Just inquire why the situation is so high-stakes. He may have a good reason that will help you decide – but more often than not he will have to back down after conceding that there really isn’t a good reason.
Why? is the root of every good counter-argument. articularly useful when you are facing emotional triggers like Take It Or Leave It.
The function of Why? is to turn his closing tactic into a source of information. You have to use a neutral tone, and phrase it as an actual question that he can answer. If he TIOLI's - you can say,
"Why is that final? Do you have another customer at that price?"
"Why is it now or never? Is your company in some kind of financial trouble?"
"Why are you so focused on cash up front. Are you short on funds, or do you have reservations about the business model?"
"You seem to be focusing on your delivery timetable. Do you want to talk about the schedule in more detail?"
And then follow up with Silence until he answers.