- What’s the deal?
- What do I want delivered?
- What must I deliver to get what I want?
These three questions can cut through most of the costly confusion in business dealings of all kinds, according to Gary Douglas, best selling author and founder of Access Consciousness.
Business is just one of the topics on which Douglas consults with clients worldwide. At a time when most seminars are dropping in attendance by 75%, Douglas’s seminars and product sales are booming.
The exactness of his questions is legendary. It’s in your best interest to be exact in business, Douglas observes. Many people talk around their issues in an attempt to create confusion.
This applies especially to money. While some of the most creative people can have an inborn reluctance to ask for it, many others intentionally wish to create confusion on the subject so they can win—keeping their deception (failing to deliver on their end of the deal) in existence.
The more precise you can be about what the deal is, what you require to be delivered, and what the other person will deliver, the more you will avoid the misunderstandings about how much you’ve paid and what you will receive. Precision usually includes numbers and other details like “how much of x will you provide, for what cost, by what time?”
Once his exact questions have elicited a figure in a deal, Douglas has protected himself against someone coming back with a demand for more money for various “extras.”
Douglas always asks, “Exactly what is this going to cost me? Exactly what are you going to deliver it, when will you deliver it, and what do I have to deliver in order for you to make this work?”
Further precision in defining what the deal is can be created by asking the person what that means to them. If someone says they wish to work for you, you can ask them what that means to them. This moves them from their fantasy of what they’ll receive from you in return for something vague, to a place where they have to define exactly what they are willing and able to deliver. This provides you with valuable information on which to base your negotiations and hiring decisions.
Being clear about what your expectations are is not enough. The potential employee may agree to these sincerely and easily, while having no idea how to deliver, or even what the delivery you’re asking for will look like. If you’re stating what you desire, anyone wishing the job will agree to it, whether or not they have the ability to deliver, or even the ability to comprehend what you’re asking for. That’s why it’s essential for you to ask them questions about their point of view, since their point of view, not yours, will determine what they can and will actually deliver.
After asking what the deal is, Douglas recommends following up with additional questions, looking at aspects such as: “Is this getting me what I want?” “Is this working for me?” The person you’re working with may have their own idea of what the deal is and what they’re delivering, but if what they’re delivering is not what you desire, you don’t really have a deal that works for you.
Just because someone desires what he or she considers a deal, does not mean that you have to agree to it if it doesn’t work for you. “If you realize it’s all about the deal and the delivery, if they’re not going to deliver, then why are you dealing with them?” Douglas asks.
Even if you find someone who is likely to deliver what you’re asking for, further questions can be helpful. If the person can deliver what you’re asking for, but their asking price is ten times what you’re willing to pay, you may not wish to make this deal. Again, the more information you have up front, the less misunderstandings you will have later and the easier your business dealings will become. That’s why it’s also important to ask what the person requires in order for them to deliver what you’re asking for.
Deals can fall apart for reasons other than money. If the person you’re hiring requires payment every week, and paying them requires driving to their bank to make the deposit, the price of hiring them may be too high even if the price in dollars is not.
How can you gracefully exit such a deal mid-stream? Douglas recommends a magic phrase: “That doesn’t work for me.” There is no judgment or criticism of their desires or skills, just an acknowledgement that under these conditions, no deal is possible.
You might occasionally get someone smart enough to ask you, “What would work for you?” If they’re willing to change their conditions, then a deal could be possible.
Following these recommendations may seem excessively confrontational. Actually the reverse is the case—being very clear and exact in the beginning allows you to avoid much messier confrontation and misunderstandings later.
Which would you rather have, an engagement broken because the marriage could not work and you see that in advance, or a messy divorce?
Is the vagueness you’ve been hiding behind really serving you? Or is it time to make another choice?