Be Wary of Word Games

Listen close when negotiating with the other side.

When negotiating a deal, don't let yourself get caught up in the other side's tricky talk. Here are some examples of what to watch out for:

  • Unidentified sources: If your opponent can't identify the source, ignore it.
  • Citing authority: Investigate their backgrounds and remember, you can always find an equal and opposite authority.
  • Analogies: They don't prove a thing, so challenge them or counter with your own.
  • Overgeneralizations: Make sure your opponent isn't using one isolated fact to support a sweeping conclusion.
  • Unidentified terms and fuzzy language: Pin down those words that can be interpreted however the other side wants to, and get them to commit.
  • Ad hominem arguments: Don't let them get you down. Such personal attacks should only alert you to your opponent's lack of solid, rational arguments.
  • Funny money: Watch out for repetitive charges and small increments that can multiply over the entire deal.
  • Profit definitions: Calculating the actual numbers can take on surprising new meanings once the cold, hard facts are identified.

Excerpted from Entrepreneur magazine, July 2001