Boxer-on-the-ropes.jpg
© sportpoint / Shutterstock.com

On the Ropes

Published: May 18 , 2017
Author: Stephen White

The car-crash interview of Diane Abbott on LBC Radio (if you haven’t heard it yet, listen here) was the first of many I expect we will hear during the election process. For as long as politicians are poorly briefed, manifesto promises incorrectly costed with policies not properly thought through they will struggle in the face of good interviewers whose goal is to catch them out on data issues and produce cringe-making sound bites for the entertainment of the public. Laura Kuenssberg’s  seven-time question  to Jeremy Corbyn about his commitment to take the UK out of the EU whatever the deal achieved at the end of the two year negotiation in her interview with him on Tuesday (the data-answer to which was a simple Yes or No) left Corbyn looking unsure of his own policy, and was the segment of the interview that led the news at the expense of focussing on Labour Party policy announcements.

The syndrome is not just common in political interviewing but also in commercial negotiating. Data has become an increasingly important element of the negotiating process; many negotiations don’t move forward until conflicts in data and its interpretation are resolved and often these data conflicts become negotiations in themselves. Most salespeople can tell stories of being unprepared for an onslaught of data requests from a buyer for which they had no answers, sometimes because they were ill prepared, or because no-one had thought to collect the data in the first place. In the face of these demands the inexperienced mumble and fumble, mis-speak, get confused, lose confidence and end up looking, sounding and feeling stupid. Which from the buying side of the table is exactly the objective because a despondent seller does poorer deals.

Of course the preventative to this embarrassment is good preparation particularly in terms of exploring the negotiating counter-parties likely behaviour, which in this case will include an analysis of the data they might demand, rehearing the responses which will be most effective and thinking about the unintended consequences that might result. If Diane Abbott had revealed that the true cost of adding 10,000 police was £1/3billion not £300,000, the obvious question becomes ‘where will that money come from?’

But I would argue that the attacking behaviour of the questioner/interviewer is actually often counter-productive. It might make good TV, or shift the power balance in a negotiation, but it is not revelatory of the facts and in a commercial environment will possibly close down any previous plan to engage collaboratively. The spat between Theresa May and the EU bureaucrats about what was said at the dinner at Downing Street couple weeks ago is a case in point. Lack of data (the facts) simply sours the relationship and makes future negotiations that bit more difficult. Yes, of course we all know this is just posturing by both sides, but it has pernicious side effects and is better avoided unless there is a specific thought-through objective.

Stephen White


SHARE

Stephen White.jpg

About the author:

Stephen White
My background is sales and marketing. I read Law at University and worked for 2 major packaging companies for 13 years in sales and sales management. I joined John McMillan and Scotwork in 1984. For the next 25 years together with our colleagues we delivered training and consulting, built the global business and developed the Scotwork product portfolio.

Read more about Stephen White

More posts by Stephen White

Latest Blog:

Squashed

I find this rather difficult to write, as I am a person of some size myself, but I shall press ahead anyway in the fond hope that no one is offended. Recently, on a holiday in the USA, my wife and I found ourselves on an internal flight on a budget US airline. If I share with you at the outset that this airline made Ryanair look like the Savoy hotel of the airline industry, you’ll begin to get the picture. Anyhow, I was allocated seat 4B on a plane that the check-in steward told me was completely full – a middle seat; my wife was in seat 4E – a middle seat on the other side of the aisle. I had missed the bit about pre-booking your seat for $25 a seat; how full was the flight from Phoenix-Mesa to Rapid City going to be, for heaven’s sake? It turned out to be very full. Who knew? As we were waiting to board,...

Latest Tweet:

Scotwork UK Limited
7 Fortrose St
Glasgow
G11 5NU
United Kingdom
+44 (0) 1413573989
info@scotwork.com
Follow us
Scotwork 21092 - Training Course.png
voty2016_sign_gold.png