Win Arguments by Being Agreeable - Savvy Intrapreneur

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Win Arguments by Being Agreeable

1 week after starting a very lucrative consulting assignment at JP Morgan back in the mid 1990s, I was thrown into the lion's den. The managing director of my assigned group started me off with a huge task. He wanted me to get another operations group to take certain responsibilities off our group's plate. He mentioned it was an ongoing feud, in which the operations group refused to help us. I knew there was a lot at stake, especially for me. My assignment continuing was now to rest on negotiating a settlement.

And here I thought I was hired to resolve technical problems with computer servers. I thought to myself "I didn't sign up for this". I was annoyed with the Director for giving me this task. I didn't even know the people in this problem group. They didn't know me either. This was a tactical advantage, I realized just before meeting with this group. We had no history with each other. So no one knew what to expect.

I entered the meeting room by myself with 6 people from the operations group obviously ready to rip me to shreds. After brief introductions the lead person, named Dedra, began going through a laundry list of tasks they already told my director they would not do. After she finished, I thought to myself for what seemed like an eternity. In reality I only paused for a few seconds and said "now that we agree on what your operations will not do, what are you willing to do?” Dead silence, some head scratching and dumb founded looks exchanged among the group. They were disarmed, because they weren't expecting me to be agreeable to their demands.

By the time the meeting was finished, they had agreed to all the tasks, my director previously couldn't get them to take on. He was floored when I reported back to him. He just couldn’t believe I accomplished in one meeting, what no one else in his group was able to do for months.

2 books I had read a few years before called "Skill with People" by Les Giblin and "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie had saved the day for me. I gained big respect from everyone in my group and began an excellent daily working relationship with the operations team.

Bottom line: Any argument can be more easily resolved by listening first, then agreeing with a person. From there, negotiation your point of view is much easier.

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