Negotiation and Argument – Rules to Remember

Whether negotiating that big sale, who sleeps on which side of the bed, punishment for a house infraction or discussing the two things we are not supposed to discuss, political and religion, one thing is certain.

Those who hold to a contrary position will do a lot of apologizing, side stepping and redirecting when they cannot answer a question with fact or are confronted with irreproachable facts. It is a known tactic and one you should try very hard to avoid in these “discussions.” Your goal should be to get back on point and focus on the topic at hand. At least try to.

Next time you are in that situation, try a logic argument that is very hard, though not impossible, to break. It is called the Rosman Six Rules of Argument/Negotiation.

Note these are all “I” statements. You will not place blame not a demand on the other party. To do so usually leads to failure.

Let’s say you want your friend to stop wasting money on lottery tickets.

1. I See. This is a statement of fact with little disagreement.

“I see that the state lottery is up to $10 million.”

2. I Feel. A statement of emotion, something men have a difficult time with because we are taught that other than hunger and sex, there are no emotions in our lives.

“I feel that buying a $2.00 lottery ticket silly because of the odds against winning.”

3. I Think. Your opinion and it must be stated as such. You should never tell the opposing party how they should think or feel, that’s not your department. Be prepared for your first disagreement here that you are wrong. Your response is simple, “I may be but that is my opinion based on the facts. What is yours?”

“I think it is a waste of time and money to purchase lottery tickets… in most cases.”

4. I Want. In a negotiation or persuasion, you are looking usually for something physical or monetary, like a winning lottery ticket. Or that new home or care or stereo. Or a new partner.

“I would rather you save the $2.00 you spend twice a week for something you have little chance to win or achieve.” 

It is unfortunate that there are three problems with the “I want” statement. First, not knowing what you really want. One needs to be specific. A “winning lottery ticket” could gain you a win of another lottery ticket.

Second is not being realistic. The lottery is called a game of chance for a reason. There is no guarantee that you win anything, even a teaser.

5. I Will. This is the third problem and most people stop will ask for something, but rarely want to give up anything to achieve the goal of acquisition. Are you willing to part with $2.00 of your hard earned money for a chance, as slim as it is, for the grand prize? How about spending $100.00 on one ticket? $1000.00?

How about $1,000 a ticket if there were only 2,000 tickets sold and the grand prize is $10,000,000? As the odds and possible winnings change, our willingness to give something up changes.

6. Payback. This is the hardest of the six to achieve. Besides the negotiated settlement you and your opposite achieve, what is the long term payback? What if the proceeds of the raffle went the local children’s hospital or school? How about to the local bar for improvements?

Long term pleasure is certainly a payback. The $10 million could last a long time if one were smart. The one-time payment will only see about $2,400,000. An annual pay would net about $150,000 after taxes for 25-years with a one-percent increase every year after the first. The net would be closer to $3,500,000 over 25-years. Longer pleasure.

One thing to remember; regardless what the motivational snake charmers tell you there is no such thing as a pure “Win-Win” negotiation or discussion. There is a best-case sinerio where both side are happy with the final results. Just watch an episode or two of “Pawn Stars” to figure this out.

Most importantly, stick with the facts both can examine. If your presentation is solid and true, your opposite will not be able to argue their position.

This is also a neat method to use when in a “discussion” with your spouse or partner.


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David Rosman is an award winning author of 15 books, and a trainer in Persuasion and Negotiation, Speech Communication and Gendered Communication for over 30-years.

He is a commentator for the Columbia Missourian as well as a reviewer for the New York Journal of Books.

His newest book is “A Christian Nation?: An examination of Christian nation theories and proofs?” (IVC Publishing) is now available at and Barnes and Noble.

About David Rosman

David is the winner of the Missouri Press Foundation's "Best Columnist" in 2013 (First Place) and 2014 (Second Place), the 2016 Harold Riback Award for excellence in writing, and the winner of the 2007 Interactive Media Award for excellence in editing.
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