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You Want the Deal; You Don’t Need It

David Norris, MD, MBA, teaches understanding the difference between a want and a need will protect you in any negotiation.

February 19, 2022

You want the deal; you don’t need it.

Predatory negotiators will often set a “trap of need” for their unskilled opponents. Predators try to get their prey to confuse what is needed with what is desired. Those who do not prepare for negotiation are most susceptible to negotiation tactics.

The trap your adversary, the respected opponent, might use it to label your wants as “needs”. They’ll try to make you think you need their business. They want to leverage your psychology against you, particularly your fear of loss. After all, who enjoys losing something they need? “It’s your contract to lose,” they might suggest. When they say this, they’re trying to use “prospect theory” against you.

 

Predatory negotiators will often set a “trap of need” for their unskilled opponents.

 

Prospect theory, or loss-aversion theory, holds that human beings weigh perceived gains and perceived losses differently. Losing something you think you already have weighs heavier in your mind than gaining something you don’t think you have.

You become more worried about the risk of losing something (a need if you will) than the risk of gaining something (a want). Predatory negotiators are skilled at exploiting and manipulating your perceptions.

They’ll frame everything in the negotiation as a need for you — something you’re at risk of losing.

To protect yourself from these predatory tactics, understand the distinction between your wants and needs.

 

Predatory negotiators are skilled at exploiting and manipulating your perceptions. They’ll frame everything in the negotiation as a need for you — something you’re at risk of losing. Share on X

 

 

Need Defined

A need is required for survival. Food, water, shelter, and oxygen fall into this category. Everything else is a want. Wanting something is fine. It’s what gets you out of bed in the morning. It’s the wants that spur our society’s economic machine. People don’t need iPhones, Audis, or 65-inch TVs. Those are wants.

You and your business have wants. You want to provide the best service to the customer. You want to help people. You want to do great work.

To avoid their “need trap,” thoroughly understand what it is you want in a negotiation. You must not allow someone else to define your needs for you because that make can things expensive for you. Consider what happens we when hearing the word “need” with a request. If we are selling, the price will go down. If we are buying, the price will go up.

 

To avoid their “need trap,” thoroughly understand what it is you want in a negotiation. You must not allow someone else to define your needs for you because that make can things expensive for you. Share on X

 

For example, let’s suppose a partner comes to you and says, “Can we switch calls this weekend? I need to be somewhere.”

When we hear someone else use the word “need” and we have the power to fulfill that need, what goes through our mind?

You might be compassionate and give them what they say they need.

Or, like most predatory negotiators, we might identify their stated need as something that is very valuable to them and increase the price of fulfilling their need. The story is much different if we hear they want to make a call change.

 

You must not allow someone else to define your needs for you because that make can things expensive for you. Consider what happens we when hearing the word “need” with a request. Share on X

 

 

Separate Wants from Needs

When determining a want from a need, ask, “Is this required for my survival?” and “Is this required for the survival of my company?”

This later is harder to answer, but the answer is often no.

You probably don’t need this client to survive.

You definitely don’t need them if you must cut your price below your costs to secure the contract.

If you believe you must accept payment that is less than your costs, then you have bought into the delusion that a want is a need.

You should want to have a certain price for your goods and services. You should want to provide the customer with the best product or service possible.

Those are valid wants. You do not need anything from the client.

The next time you’re dealing with a payer or any organization, remember: you probably don’t need their business. You want it, but you don’t need it.

Actually, they need you to take care of their patients. They’ve written contracts to provide access to the best clinics in the area. They sold a piece of paper with a promise to their clients.

 

The next time you’re dealing with a payer or any organization, remember: you probably don’t need their business. You want it, but you don’t need it.

 

They need someone to provide good care to their customers. They need to fulfill their contractual obligations. You want to help them do just that.

Remember, the stronger their need, the more they’re willing to pay. The stronger your need, the more you’re willing to discount. Strong negotiations begin with understanding what you need and want. This understanding will protect you from tactics of the other side that obscure the difference.

 

Remember, the stronger their need, the more they’re willing to pay. The stronger your need, the more you’re willing to discount. Share on X

 

Thought for Today

What do you want out of your current negotiation? Have you confused your organization’s wants with its needs? Remember, almost everything we negotiate are wants, not needs. Recognize this principle, and you’ll see the benefits in your future negotiations.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. For more information, or to submit your own opinion, please see our submission guidelines or email opmed@doximity.com. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Find out what we’re looking for here and submit your writing, or send us a pitch.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Submit your own article now here.

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