How to deal with Shafters

I was talking to a colleague recently about collaboration and we were lamenting how hard it is to stay in collaborative mode all the time. He said: “if I think they are a shafter, I go straight for the money – e.g, “sounds like we are now consulting and if so, my fee is…”.

It reminded me of the book “The New Negotiating Edge”, by Gavin Kennedy, who talks about red (shafting) and blue (collaborative) behaviour. Certainly many of my course participants want to know what to do when they have to deal with “shafters”.

The classic response pattern in game theory is “tit for tat”, which somehow got a bad name where I came from. Maybe it got overridden by the catholic mantra “turn the other cheek”, which a buddhist monk once described as strange behaviour. He said “I don’t understand this strange behaviour. If someone throw a rock at me, I duck”.

In essence tit-for-tat means: start co-operatively, then match the behaviour of the party you are negotiating with. If they behave co-operatively, so do you and if they behave competitively, so do you.

For more ideas, here’s a good article about how to deal with ‘shafters’ of all varieties.


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To be influential – be influenceable

I’ve been running a number of workshops recently that revolve around enhancing participant’s influencing skills – for those in matrix management situations and those in technical or professional advice roles. I’ve been struck by the difference between what I call ‘service oriented’ people and ‘professionally / technically oriented’ people. The professionally / technically oriented participants value and are rewarded for being “right” while the service people are valued and rewarded for establishing relationships.

What seems to happen is that technically oriented people, confuse being “influenceable” with giving in and so resist the message that they can become more influential by being prepared to be influenced by others.


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Scissors Paper Rock – Dealing with Avoidance

At a recent Negotiation Skills course I ran, some of the group wanted to know more about how to deal effectively with the “Avoiding” conflict mode. The following day I played scissors, paper, rock and made the connection – every conflict mode has a mode that can “beat” it. Avoiding “beats” Competing because it doesn’t allow Competing to ‘win’, just as Competing usually ‘wins’ over Accommodating, because Accommodating gives in too quickly or for the sake of the relationship. For more information on the TKI conflict modes, check out the Kilmann website.

It took few weeks longer to make the obvious connection, even though I have been preaching the technique for years – starting co-operatively means Accommodating can ‘win over Avoiding (in the positive sense of winning over).  Accommodating just needs a bit of patience.

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The Rules of the Game #1 – Introductions

Years ago I worked in a financial services organisation where it seemed that everyone but the CEO and me knew the rules of the introduction game. Thanks to Paul and some friendly Business Development Managers, I’ve learned the rules and in recent work with an organisation, we developed a model for Introductions, because surprisingly, I’m not the only one who missed out on this learning.

Rules of the Introduction Game:

1. Be prepared to Make the first Move

2. Ask Curiosity Questions

3. Listen for what is Important

4. Move on Graciously


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