Acting Dumb Might Be a Smart Thing to Do

Be a Better Negotiator: Act Dumb!

Acting dumb might be a smart thing to do. Acting dumb is important whether you are negotiating as a creative problem-solver or as a bargainer. In a Business Week article we explained that acting dumb requires asking a lot of questions, avoiding assumption-making, and confessing ignorance or confusion in order to draw from the other party a more detailed understanding of their situation, their goals, and their restrictions.

Most negotiators fail to fully uncover underlying needs. Only 38% of sales reps and managers we’ve seen succeed in uncovering real needs. We’ve conducted consultations and seminars with dozens of companies that have sophisticated sales forces selling everything from high-tech electronics to water pipe to exotic foreign currency derivatives. After some guidance and practice that success rate can double to 76%.

Not as easy as it looks. We’ve analyzed hundreds of negotiations. Two-thirds of the negotiators produce solutions that are not as good as they could have been (1/3 produce solutions that are not good at all). In our seminars we take pleasure in the challenge to convert those lagging bargainers into accomplished negotiators.


ZEHREN♦FRIEDMAN offers a full range of negotiation skills courses to help you negotiate better.

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