Let’s be honest….arguing seems to have become a part of today’s typical restoration firm. With adjusters, TPA’s, or some other party that wants to make more profit and slash our invoice.
This atmosphere can certainly create strong emotions that make us defensive, anxious, and usually bullish and angry. After all, we did the work for a happy and grateful customer
Naturally, we want to be heard and understood and defend our positions. This can easily seem adversarial to whoever we are dealing with, especially if they feel they have something to lose (money, position, ego). It is important to know this.
A true professional knows how to de-escalate the situation and use more calm and professional approaches to still end up with a strong or “winning” position.
I have a mini-lesson on negotiation skills I teach to leaders and more often junior or emerging leaders. Those with very little management experience. They often find themselves in an inferior position and feel that the natural way to overcome any perceived lower position is with brute force.
In short, we are usually speaking about a business transaction here. This could of course relate to personal conversations with family and friends.
But really be self-aware and avoid the almost natural temptation to lower your voice and therefore appear calm and reasonable. The funny thing about emotions is they are HIGHLY contagious. When you are around happy people, you tend to be happy, around irritated friends, you slide into the same funk. So focus on not taking things quite as personally and try hard to understand where the other person is coming from.
We are reminded we have 2 ears and 1 mouth for this very reason. Listen.
Asking this question arms your mind and focuses on an outcome and less on the actual argument. I pretend that my time is worth $1000 per hour. Spending time on arguments around things in the past or work that has already been completed is nothing but a deduction of my profit on that project.
The person on the other side might simply not know what you know, have a different understanding or possibly they are trying to achieve a goal. Some arbitrary number or metric that they imposed themselves or by their employer. They are in a game and you are simply a player in that game to them.
They likely are not trained or specialized nearly as much as you are in this subject. They do not have the history or experience, so it may not feel like they are asking too much. Keep that in mind.
In my Negotiation workshop, I generally outline there are two types of negotiations.
Collaborative and Competitive (not Combative)
is a negotiation with someone you know or might likely do more business with again in the future. There is mutual respect. Here you are not looking to win, but you are wanting to end with both sides feeling like they are solid and feel good about the outcome.
is another type where there is clearly an attempt for one to come out with a distinct advantage. That's either money, position, or opportunity.
The important thing to know is immediately identify and prepare which you are in. You cannot enter a competitive negotiation with a collaborative mindset. That will quickly leave you at a disadvantage. Alternatively, you cannot do the opposite and start out with a hard position and the other side might simply need more education or details to understand.
But avoid entering a situation with your fists already out and ready to swing. More times than not…that ends with a less-than-satisfactory outcome and it certainly sucks energy from you.
I am not embarrassed to say that I have been wrong about things more times than I care to admit. While I am generally a confident person, I like to think I am not stubborn.
Most people in the disaster industry are the types that figure shit out. Find answers, solve problems and sadly are the “It is quicker to do things myself” type. This characteristic leads us to feel like our hard work should not be questioned.
Not everyone is like us. They certainly are not like me (thankfully).
Improving your argument means building habits of listening closely, asking clear questions, and then taking a moment longer to draw out a plan for your next move. How many times in life have you “shot from the hip” and it ends up being a dumb thing to say or do?
While being efficient and decisive are strong skills in many situations, there is respect that is awarded to people that seem to have complete control over themselves. Someone who approaches conversations and situations with clear attempts of logic and reasoning becomes an example of someone with leadership skills. Then people will be more inclined to go along because of not only your confidence but competence.
Don’t aim to simply be right because you say so. Be right because you are supported by facts and reality. It is almost impossible to argue against these. If someone wants to argue facts, you should be charging them $1000 per hour for your time. Then they can argue as long as they want, right?
I want to leave you with a few things.
First, I want to recommend a book that I have read twice and honestly tells more people about this subject than any other. Never Split the Difference; Chris Voss. To that point, our BOOK VAULT (link) is a great library of many great books about sharpening skills and improving in life and business.
Next time you get that dreaded email or call from a client or some other outside party claiming their own internal processes, simply remember you are not a part of their company nor are they part of yours. They are simply taking a shot and hoping you will react emotionally and they end up in a stronger position. They may want your mutual client to see you as an “angry contractor”. Ignore it. Be the professional your customer hoped you were.
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