‘Please’ is such a simple and unobtrusive word, when it comes to negotiations, and I couldn’t have realised the power and weight that it carried until my Dad threw it on me this afternoon.
In a good way of course.
I’ll get to that story in a while, but first let me reiterate its most common usage and that is within the service industry, such as one that I’m in.
I print stuffs, and occasionally have the opportunity some creatives and on-site events or advertising installations, with plenty of communications and miscommunications to go.
Not surprisingly a huge chunk of my time is spent negotiating, renegotiating and killing off a dead negotiation.
So I deal with customers on topics such as time and costs, applications or installations, effectiveness, and validity, and the actual list that I negotiate daily, can probably be quite lengthy, and whatever the topic may be, and case in point — I negotiate a lot.
So much so that I use the word ‘please’ in obscene amounts, and most probably in trying to come off as polite and unobtrusive but mostly in trying to win the customer’s agreement by appearing subtle and inviting when I begin conversations with that word.
I was quite wrong actually, because I realise that utlising please in such a construction is like begging for attention.
And beggers are usually the ire of society, and when you’re begging, you lose authority.
BUT, use it correctly, and it transforms from mere begging, into an authoritarium ultimatum that is wrapped in firm persuasion yet inviting at the same time.
Case in point, where my Dad used the word at the end of a question for the first time, after bugging me with ‘Will you follow us to Tioman Island during March’s holiday?’ for the last few days.
You see my Dad don’t use that word so often with me (All Dad’s don’t beg with their children right? They like to appear strong, and my dad, he is a little bit brash, stubborn, defensive and strongheaded, but in fact he’s one of the most polite and gamely gentleman that I have the pleasure of ever knowing.) and it hit me unexpectedly when he used it on me earlier this afternoon.
I didn’t have any intentions of going to Tioman Islands, at all, ‘cos I didn’t want to spend 3 days commuting in a rush within a foreign land with limited internet access, but most importantly of all, I didn’t want to be spending at all on leisure activities.
I’m currently on a self-imposed budget-appreciation mode at the moment. Something that I’ve picked up from playing plenty of Poker games, where I learn that with cards that you’re dealt with in life, you gotta learn when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em.
And I was prepared to fold 99% when it comes to a Tioman trip, but from 99% of not wanting to go, it became 99% of I had to go, simply because my Dad said this: “Follow us, this once. Please?”
Mere words, but so provocative.
I would have declined his invitations had he used the ‘Please’ at the start of every invitations, but something about using it just once during this whole episode makes me feel like I’ll be turning down a great cause if I didn’t go, and that it carried for more weight and persuasion than it should have.
The usage of that word came off authoritarian yet mildly inviting.
I wouldn’t have expected it, but I’m going to Tioman in 2 weeks time, when just days back I would vehemently decline any invitations at all — which I actually declined when Dad initially posed them to me many times, days earlier.
My Dad used it sparringly, and I definitely could take heed in that during my ‘negotiations’ at work.
Where I used to bend and submit to customers’ demands and requests, I’ve slowly growned into someone who’s taking control of situations at work, and controlling them instead of the other way around when I first started out.
I’ll probably still use ‘Please’ at the start of conversations with newer customers, but I’m definitely going to use it less often now.
And when I’m losing control of the situation, perhaps I’ll employ it as a last ditch effort to tilt negotiations in my favour.
So long story short, moral of the story is that ‘Please’ can be a massive gravitational pull in your favour.
To all Dads, if you’re in a protracted negotiation with your sons (and daughters), then instead of appearing to beg with ‘Please’ at the beginning of statements or questions, try using it sparringly.
Will you? Please?