Need Theory Negotiate No!

Need Theory

Wolves have a strong, over-powering, instinctive need to hunt to feed their clan. When their young are threatened, they will drop their kill and defend their clan to their death. The need to protect is stronger than the need to eat.

Understanding need theory and the natural hierarchy of needs is beneficial in all human interactions. Need theory explains the forces that drive, motivate, and even control much of what we do. Abraham Maslow determined that there is an innate instinct metric that guides how people respond, fight or negotiate. His theory of the hierarchy of needs is the basis of this metric. Failure to comprehend these real, inner forces will prevent you from becoming an effective negotiator or mediator. Understanding the metric will make you a better member of society.

Need theory is actually a threshold pain theory applied to human interaction. We all understand that inflicting more pain creates a more violent response. Similarly, Maslow's need theory as applied to negotiating simply implies that the more personally threatening an issue, the more rigid or reactive the other person will become.

To the negotiator what is important is the observance of the other person's reaction. The degree of reaction provides a guide for sequential negotiating tactics. If the terms cut too deep, even though forced to accept the terms the other person will try to get out of the deal as soon as possible.

Maslow was able to determine some needs take precedence over others. He observed that when certain basic needs are threatened man reacts instinctively. Observing this reaction enables an astute negotiator to stay within parameters that permit the parties to work toward a mutual goal. Go beyond the parameters and the negotiation is in danger of collapse.

There have been volumes written about Maslow's Hierarchy of Need Theory. In essence, the theory puts forth that a person has scaled needs. At the bottom of the scale are one's basic physiological needs such as having enough food and water to survive. At the top of the scale are those things that feed one's ego or 'self-actualization' needs such as satisfying one's own needs to do something that is bigger than oneself, serving the community, the nation or the world. Between these two extremes are a myriad of other levels of needs that man has developed over the ages.

What is important to the negotiator from Maslow's teachings to understand his premise that a person, if threatened to lose those items which he considers essential to his basic survival, will fight to the death to protect them. As the need in jeopardy rises in importance through Maslow's need hierarchy a person's reaction to the threat also changes. There should be an observable, inverse relationship in the response depending if the threat is to one's assets as their importance rises on the hierarchy scale.

While the intensity of the resistance my not change, the manner of the defense should shift from theoretical to very personal the closer you get to financially hurting the individual. An example is a corporate negotiator who is negotiating a minor clause in a retail lease that is good for him to get and which will earn him a corporate 'atta boy' as compared to threatening to kill a deal on which his performance bonus is based. The former may evoke a stringent fight; the latter will evoke a desperate rebuttal.

Negotiators should learn to use the Maslow Need-Theory Model as a situational thermostat. Judging how the other person reacts to offers or proposals will reveal how close to making the deal too painful for the other person to accept. You cannot expect the other person to be hurt so badly they will lose a base commodity like money by agreeing. Similarly, if you can find ways to satisfy needs high on the other's personal hierarchy, you may be able to make them sacrifice financially to gain that satisfaction.

There is another aspect of need theory applications in negotiations. Watch how people react. If you perceive they are more concerned about non-monetary issues, they may value those assets that satisfy these elevated needs to the degree that you can effectively barter financial gain in exchange for satisfying their needs. If doing so does not impair your position, you should be bale to broker a win-win transaction highly satisfying to you. On the other hand, if the person focuses intently on monetary issues you may need to take time to learn more about his financial condition, loan commitments, and other liabilities. It may be that you do not want to reach an agreement with the person if you feel they will not be able to deliver on their promise anyway.

Understanding need theory is one of the best investments anyone can make. No matter the arena, being able to interpret another person's reactions in a fight, dispute or simple conversation will provide invaluable insight into how to deal with the situation. If you daughter reacts violently to your suggestion that it is bedtime, you can assume she is concerned more about what might lurk in the dark than having to go to bed so early. Take the time to check the closet with her, lock the windows and look under the bed. Doing this together may ease her concern and reap you a big hug and smile..



Walrus bulls barter with their lives for the right to mate or the right to lead. Failure to win means death or celibacy and a life of solitude until they grow stronger enough to challenge the lead bull.

Man is the only animal able to negotiate through currency. By creating currency, man has made valuation a subjective art.

Bartering is exchanging items of like or comparable value. To negotiate is to seek to reach an accord by exchanging items of value in a fashion that yields more for your assets than their actual value to you. Therefore negotiating is the process of trying to create value through the barter process. Bartering is typically restricted to like or comparable commodities. Negotiating includes anything of value.

How is this possible that people negotiate and reach an accord each thinking they have made a good deal.? The answer is because each person values the assets exchanged differently. This differential makes the negotiating process work.

Negotiating commodities can range from currency to influence, from property to flesh. When negotiating anything of value is on the table if someone is willing to offer it. The age-old trade, prostitution, is illustrative of a timeless negotiation. The commodity, sexual gratification, is the same whether the price is $10.00 or $1,000.00. the value is driven by the packaging and presentation.

The key to maximizing the return form negotiations is to first identify all of the assets or commodities you have available to be offered during the discussions. Determine the value they hold for you. Then optimize the value received for those commodities avoiding letting one go for less than its value to you.



Firmly and resolutely saying 'No!' to a mountain lion about to attack may cause him to pause long enough to allow you to run out of the forest, or not!

It is not what you say but how you say it. The little word NO is a very powerful statement. When used in a negotiation it is even more powerful. As often as not, it is not intended to be an absolute foreclosure of continued negotiation It is a solicitation for you to improve or alter your offer.

The many meanings of NO!:

-No often means, simply, no. It is a firm, direct rejection of an offer. It is a clear indication that the other person does not want to do the deal. This closes off further discussion unless the offering party wants to revise their offer and negotiate against themselves.

-No can also be a bluff testing if the other person is willing to offer more to keep the negotiations going.

-No may also mean the other person would like to do the deal, but is unable to accept the specific terms offered.

-No can be the result of your proposal being misunderstood. If it was a fair offer and had merit, do not be afraid to restate it to make sure.

Listen to the delivery of a response, especially a negative one. How you are rejected provides an insight into the correct meaning of the rejection. When rejected and you sense another offer is expected, resist the urge to offer more. Respond by asking what the other person needs to change his mind. Do not negotiate against yourself without additional information. Seek clarification, suggestions or even, best yet, a counter to help you narrow the gap.

No is a powerful word. Use it judiciously. Deliver your rejection of an offer in a manner to telegraph your intent lest the other person not give up prematurely. If you know the negotiation is fruitless, make the rejection clear and direct. Then move on and don't waste time offering false hope.


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