It is no secret that we make most decisions on an emotional level. That is what marketing is built upon. We emotionally choose sports teams, candy at the checkout lane, a person to marry, how we motivate an employee or a child to do their homework. Many decisions are emotionally charged and the results appear potentially catastrophic. Pressured decisions often don’t turn out so well. Our daughter is not going to be homeless if she doesn’t do her homework. Harnessing our emotions and making good decisions in a pressure situation is a key to getting things done and at the same time preserving relationships.
I recently helped my son and his fiancée find and purchase a used car. They live on the east coast and totaled their vehicle while they were visiting here in the Midwest with us for the holiday. The plan was to replace the vehicle and drive the new (used) vehicle cross country the in a day or two.
Of course limited cash and time pressurized the situation. We found a car that appeared to be in great shape and made the purchase. We were out of order and didn’t check the CARFAX until after we got the car home. That was the seminal impulsive mistake. The report revealed that there were 130K more miles on the vehicle than registered on the odometer. Everyone was frantic, hurt, blaming, feeling ripped off and not a little desiring revenge and spoiling for a fight (my son is a U.S. Marine — I need not say more). Cooler heads prevailed and we did not visit the dealer at midnight and pretend it was Halloween with TP and spray paint in tow — or worse.
We attempted to negotiate a return of the vehicle. I was “lead” negotiator and was somewhat proud of myself to be able to remain calm. I was not punishing or vengeful in my tone or language.
Here are a few things I learned from this emotion packed situation that I think will help me in my pressurized business situations. Tell me how would add to the list of emotionally smart lessons. It would be great to hear your stories of success and learning about Emotionally Charged Decisions.
1. Do the homework. Get the CARFAX before closing the deal, duh! We had not adequately acknowledge the time pressure and should have planned how we would needed to know before we closed the deal. We needed to make time to make a better decision.
2. My opening negotiating position was too strong, namely to “get their money back immediately.” Better to plan time to ask more questions and allow the dealer to consider my young couple’s situation. He indicated later that he may have been more willing to work something out.
3. Write it down. I could have engaged in a sales and negotiation preparation process to gain the helicopter view. I could have written down our options on a piece of paper or spreadsheet or mind map — anything that would have slowed down the decision making process and give us more tangible feeling facts.
4. Meet the opponent face to face. I could have met with the dealer instead of negotiating on the phone. I did resist when the dealer attempted to engage in text messaging.
5. Get good advice. I would have sought the advice of at least 2 more friends / advisors who were not lawyers itching for a fight.
6. Remain in the present. The situation was moving at lightning speed. For the most part I stayed in the present with asking more “where do we go from here” rather than dwelling on the past and how much we got ripped off.
We did find another car and they safely returned to the coast. I didn’t lose my cool. I remained respectful and open during the negotiations. I had taken a pressure tactic to get them to negotiate and would have done as well or better to simply put our dilemma in front of the dealer and hope that he would have compassion on us. In the end he has graciously offered to take the car back and will give us a full refund when the car sells.
What would you have done?
How would you attempt to negotiate?
How do you quell the emotional impulse to take revenge or use a personal attack during a negotiation.
What is your process for getting a helicopter perspective in a pressured decision making process?
Please take a moment and share an anecdote with me. I look forward to learning from your wisdom in making emotionally charged decisions.