If By Whiskey

Today’s Fable Friday takes us back to 1952, and the story of the Mississippi lawmaker Noah Sweat. To put him on the spot, a journalist asked him if Mississippi should continue to prohibit or finally legalize alcoholic beverages and what was his view regarding whiskey.  Consider his situation.  The state was divided between religious blue law supporters and those who wanted the tax revenue from legalizing whiskey. Sweat was in a dilemma and so he replied:

“You have asked me how I feel about whiskey.  All right, here is how I feel about whiskey.

If when you say whiskey you mean the devil’s brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, despair, shame and helplessness, then certainly I am against it.

But, if when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes.  If you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.  This is my stand.  I will not retreat from it.  I will not compromise.”  Sweat was a pretty clever and funny guy huh?

It's just coffee in the cup, really.

What does this story have to do with negotiation? Be very careful never to get trapped in conceptual language.  Avoid answering “yes” or “no.” Explain every detail and phrase responses in behavioral language.

Let me give you a test.  Many of my clients are financial institutions, and they often find themselves negotiating about rates, fees and other charges.  Your customer might say to you, “Here you are trying to get another point from me, and your company is making all kinds of money.  What do you think of the huge profits you’re making today on the backs of your customers?”  In my negotiation workshops I ask the learners to give me a good response to this question, using the principles of “If By Whiskey.”  Go ahead and try it in your head, before reading on.

Here’s how I would do it:  “If by profits, you are referring to deceptive loan practices and some of the sub-prime mortgage loans that have damaged our economy, not to mention thousands of homeowners, then of course I am very much against them.  But if by profits you mean a fair return to our shareholders, the growth and strength of our company, which allows us to remain independent, create new jobs and stimulate the local economy through sound business practices, then I am all for them.”

You see the idea?  Don’t let yourself get trapped.

If you want to communicate fairly with your customer, you have to see where he’s coming from and respond in kind. In other words,

Think Like Your Customer!

 Wow! July is almost here, and to give you a more relaxed July 4th weekend, I’ll send my newsletter on Tuesday July 12th.  You can sign up for it by clicking on the ActionSystems website link to the right and then once on the site just click the “N” (top right) for newsletter.

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About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at www.actionsystemstraining.com.

One Response to If By Whiskey

  1. Pingback: The solution to the gun control issue: just change the trigger! | actionsystems

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