A dear “brother” of mine had brought up the concept of “mirroring”, the source of the idea was a former FBI hostage negotiator named Chris Voss. The information was brought up as part of a lesson. The irony behind the assignment is that the associated information was known to me from a few months ago. I had read most of Chris Voss’ book Never Split The Difference. It had a good grip of various things that he had talked about. The irony is that I had a copy of Getting To Yes, which was from two guys from the Harvard Negotiation Project.
I’m doing my best to not drone on about prior reading. But between those two pieces of reading was a huge rub: Quite often, during these negotiations, it isn’t always a dollar figure (or a condition) that makes a hostage taker want to give up their hostage (or surrender); it was often safety, among other things. There are various things that a person wants or needs that really drive them. I often pushed this idea on to other areas that we might face an opportunity to negotiate.
I have had the opportunity (and pain) to sit in a few job interviews, often with the person who has the ultimate hiring decision. Many of the positions were rigid (noted very little wiggle room due to contract issues) when it came to pay and benefits. Some of the jobs did have a little wiggle room, but I learned a few things that many job seekers don’t see. The most notable one I want to focus on is that many people on the other side are not prepared to negotiate with you.
When I received an offer, I would ask about cost of benefits, specifically insurance. Sometimes they would have a printout, which may or may not help. On occasion, I would get a non-answer like “competitive” or “within what is common in our industry”, which is also a non-answer. One time I actually had someone tell me something along the lines of “if you start working, someone will send you the information”. Through most of these “negative” answers, I had been forced to jump immediately to being stern.
And often I had to use the following line: “I really need this information before I can accept or decline an offer”. It wasn’t rude but it was truthful. (And to be honest with you, I soundly rejected an offer from a senior HR manager due to the embarrassingly low pay and the fact that any benefits were obfuscated). It often wasn’t about the actual money (or benefits), it was about a principle.
This principle was the fact that these are representatives of a company. This company contained people , whom I was expecting to treat me with some level of respect and courtesy. (I feel a level of pride in myself. I show this in my appearance and mannerisms when I am in interviews). I don’t want to treat people poorly and I don’t want anyone working for/with me that felt like they were being put over a barrel.
I didn’t want to work for a company that wasn’t serious in hiring me. And I wanted to be taken serious. I wasn’t held hostage over it.
It is something that I must implore you to remember. Chris Voss had mentioned, roughly, that there are intangible things that people want. And in the future; I want you to remember an exercise you should use to achieve them.
During an interview, negotiate for several other things. Make a small list and pick a few. Ask to have a yearly steak dinner at Chez Tropez with your manager on the company’s dime instead of (x). Ask for a yearly shirt budget or to have the CEO take you to buy a suit; you need to look professional. The list could be endless. But I wanted to end with one really interesting brain teaser idea: Ask for the left shoe of someone who is interviewing you.
Call it, your need to be taken seriously cost.