#8 Give favors. One of my great pleasures in life is helping other people; I believe there's a big Karmic scoreboard in the sky. God is keeping track of the good that you do, and She is particularly pleased when you give favors without the expectation of return from the recipient. The scoreboard always pays back. You can also guess that I strongly believe in returning favors for people who have helped you.
#9 Ask for the return of favors. Good schmoozers give favors. Good schmoozers also return favors. However, great schmoozers ask for the return of favors. You may find this puzzling: Isn't it better to keep someone indebted to you? The answer is no, and this is because keeping someone indebted to you puts undue pressure on your relationship. Any decent person feels guility and indebted. By asking for, and receiving, a return favor, you clear the decks, relieve the pressure, and set up for a whole new round of give and take. After a few rounds of give and take, you're best friends, and you have mastered the art of schmoozing.
These two points are actually related in game theory. It works like this: negotiation is split into two separate sides (by what is called the prisoner's dilemma, but please save that for another day). These sides are known as win/win and win/lose, and they are like yin and yang.
Most people can figure out what that means just from the titles - when in a win/win we are looking for how we benefit from each other and both come out ahead in the long run. When in win/lose, I try to win at your expense.
Our problem is focussed then on knowing whether we are in win/win or in win/lose. If we are in win/lose, then we definately should walk away from any deal. Schmoozing, in Guy's terms, is pointless in win/lose, because this just gets you deeper into a potential loss. One day, if not today, when you might win.
So how do we determine which we are in? It's not as easy as one would think.
The answer is definately not in words; and in my experience, if someone attempts to impress you with statements like "let's search for the win/win," it's as good a signal that they may be thinking win/lose as win/win. Be careful not to be lulled in by such mere words, as they are stock in trade for the win/loser.
One way to determine is what I think of as the rule of three favours. In this tactic, you offer three unrelated favours to your counter-schmoozer (Guy's #8), and you also put yourself in the position of desiring the return of those favours (see Guy's #9).
But don't desire it too aggresively - the essence here is to see whether the person will accept the favours, and naturally return same when given the opportunity.
Why does this work? It works because win/win and win/lose are very very deep-seated human patterns of behaviour. People are generally either one way or the other. Most people naturally fall into win/lose, probably from childhood battles and the general darwinian environment of the kindergarten. As we grow older and mature some, a lucky few of us discover the higher plain of win/win, and we work hard to develop that attitude.
So if you offer three nice juicy favours to a normal, natural win/lose schoolyard bully, it will be beyond their ability and their understanding to avoid abusing the offering. Which means they will take the favours and not return them. Even if a natural win/loser understands the theory of win/win, he has a choice - either practice win/win at some short term practical and emotional cost, or go with his gut instincts. Either way, he reveals to you whether he is ready for some serious business.
And thus you differentiate your partner. We need to try three times, as one test can be accidental, either way. Two can be a pattern, but three is consensus.
A final tip - don't forget to uncorrelate the favours, so don't mark them all with a pressed flower!Posted by iang at February 2, 2006 06:51 AM | TrackBack