Personal MBA: Damaging Admissions

Personal MBA: Damaging Admissions

Trustworthiness plays a huge part when trying to persuade someone to your way of thinking or, in the context of business, to make a sale. When people don’t trust what you’re telling them, it doesn’t matter how persuasive and rational your arguments are. You’ve lost the battle. According to Kaufman, one way to increase your trustworthiness in some situations is to make damaging admissions at the outset of a conversation. He explains that this gesture can often instill a feeling that you’re putting everything on the table, and thus the other party can trust that they have all of the necessary information needed to make a decision.

This idea of damaging admissions reminds me of a concept from Chris Voss’s book on negotiation, “Never Split The Difference.” There he introduces the notion of accusation auditing. This is the tactic of preemptively stating the negative reactions of your customer or counterpart, thereby disarming any attack or opposing viewpoint. It puts you in control of the conversation and eases the mind of your negotiating partner.

Relating this back to Kaufman’s point, when we’re upfront about any negative aspects or consequences of a decision we’re trying to convince someone to make, we cut through the desire to uncover any hidden secrets and move forward to focus on the more positive aspects. In my mind, it seems like a strategy to lessen the time it takes to get to a yes by reducing the opportunities your counterpart has to find fault with the decision you want he or she to make.

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