Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 


Getting your way is hard.

This world doesn't often reward those who happen to be right.

So much gets in the way. You know, people's feelings, foibles, and manipulations, for example.

Simon Horton, author of The Leader's Guide to Negotiation, thinks he has something of an inside track to this conundrum.

After all, he's helped hostage negotiations and now teaches the art.

So here are a few of his tips for winning your negotiation and getting what you want.

1. Negotiate in Front of a Mirror.

"In negotiation situations, people are more collaborative and trustworthy if there's a mirror," Horton told the Daily Mail. If you see a reflection of yourself, apparently, you're more likely to come to an agreement in both a business negotiation and in one that involves divorce. Which is a sort of business negotiation, I suppose. If we see how we really are, we are more likely to be reasonable. In a case where being reasonable is when people do what we want them to do.

2. Negotiate First Thing in the Morning.

When your blood sugar levels are high, you're more likely to go ahead and make a difficult decision, says Horton. More people are likely to get parole, a study found, if the parole board looked at their cases just after breakfast. So if you want someone to take a big leap and do as you say, buy the person a chocolate marble loaf and several butter croissants at Starbucks around 7 a.m., as well as one of those ridiculous Frappuccinos. (Here's a full list of Starbucks' sugar content, to help you.)

3. Explain Why You Want What You Want. (Even If It's Nonsense.)

When someone tries to cut in line in front of you, you're likely to resist. However, if the person explains that his house is on fire and he needs bottled water to put the flames out, you're more likely to say: "OK." Horton believes the reason can be absurd. What matters is that you try and give one, rather than just demand what you want.

4. Touch the Person You Want Something From.

Horton believes that "the underlying mechanism that makes touch such a powerful negotiation tool is that it increases oxytocin levels in the bloodstream." This is a bonding chemical, ergo it nudges us to think we're on the same side as the person we touch. Horton thinks this can work when you're trying to get a raise or a discount in a store. I worry. I find it a little too obvious when salespeople touch me. It's like a teenage boy reaching in for a first kiss at the movies.

5. Present the Idea of a Common Enemy.

The idea here is that you want the person you're negotiating with to imagine a scenario that's neither good for her nor good for you. "Often a hostage taker will feel the world has done them wrong in some way. When you know what that is, you can say, 'We definitely don't want them to get something out of this' and use that common enemy as a motivator." I feel sure President Trump will be doing this in his negotiations with China and Russia.

6. Insert Subliminal Communication.

This apparently works best for kids who don't want to do the chores. Wait, today's indulgent parents even ask them to do that? Horton suggests planting a set of words into a sentence, without giving your "opponent" a sense of being told what to do. So for example: "You could say, 'I wonder who's going to tidy the room. You can decide.'" He added: "Or you could say, 'The lounge is very tidy, and your room is also looking nice today.'" The most important part is that you've inserted "tidy your room" into the kid's mind. I fear kids are too wily for this one, but it's worth a try.