In my latest book, covering 77 Best Practices In Negotiation, I mention that there could be 777 Best Practices in Negotiation or even 7,777.
Nobody knows for sure exactly how many there are. Moreover, some of the Best of the Best Practices in Negotiation are the techniques that people have invented and use on a consistent basis that they've never publicized.
Why would someone want to keep Best Practices In Negotiation a secret? It's obvious, is not it?
They would keep their prized gambits private for the same reason that some of my consulting clients forget to offer testimonials, despite the fact that my work for them has been exemplary.
Simply put, they want to keep a good thing going, and prevent their strategies from becoming known to potential competitors and diluted with wider use. The longer you can stand by yourself on top of the mountain, the better.
Let me give you an example. By the time I was 21, I already had quite a resume in sales and sales management, having run a crew of 60 for Time-Life Books, a division of what is now Time-Warner.
Upon graduating from college I went to work for a Beverly Hills auto leasing company, and one of my duties was to explain and collect payment for the body damage lessees did to cars during the prior 24 to 36 months.
From across the desk in my cubicle, many would have shriek when seeing the appraiser's dollar values for which they were responsible. But those dents, dings, and windshield pits added up.
One day, I decided I had enough of the surplus emotionalism and resolved to find a better way to break the bad news and get my job done.
Instead of staying behind my desk when I showed them the appraisal, I came around to the empty chair next to them, so we were shoulder to shoulder, viewing the page. The desk was no longer an obstacle.
This simple adjustment lowered their voices, made them more cooperative, and I started collecting the damages with relative ease. What had been a tourism negotiation nightmare made a balmy walk in the park.
When you think about it, after the fact, it becomes obvious why this worked so well.
For one thing, how can you YELL at someone that is imprisoned right next to you? In this kind of range, what Edward T. Hall terms "Intimate Distance" in his classic books, The Silent Language and The Hidden Dimension, whispering is implicitly mandated.
I actually had clients saying, "Well, Gary, I'm not happy having to pay, but I know you're on my side."
By taking on th e physical correlative of being on their side, I induced the emotional correlative, the feeling I was on their side.
This neat trick encouraged me to study "Proxemics," the behavioral basis of workplace design, and then to teach a senior level college class in Nonverbal Communication.
It is a Best Practice In Negotiation, a closely guarded secret until now, one that was never detected by my clients.
Remember: A Best Practice In Negotiation is not always a common one. Indeed, the best of the best, are often exclusive practices, as well.