For those of you that know me, I’m a nice guy; I find it challenging to play the “hard-nosed” character in business, it just doesn’t come naturally to me. So in 1991, I found it difficult to push back on my lodger who wanted a couple of days’ grace to pay his rent.
Instead, I let him off, and the following month the same thing happened. Tearing my hair out, I had an idea. The next lodger I would pull the story that I was operating on behalf of a friend who was working in Edinburgh and who owned the house, thinking that I could refer to him every time a critical decision was to made about the room.
Sure enough on the day, the rent was due, the usual “can you give me a couple of more days please Paul?”. However, this time I said, “I’d love to, you know I would, but I’ll need to speak with Roger, I’ll let you know how I get on”.
“I’m sorry Roger is not up for that at all, in fact, he’s keen to get someone else in if you can’t pay the rent on the due date. I’m sorry; Roger’s a tough businessman.”
Guess what? He paid the rent in cash that same day, and I never had a problem with him again.
The message is clear. When negotiating and you want to put the other party under a little pressure, or you want to refuse a proposal without losing face or likeability, create a higher authority to refer. If you’re going to be opaque, then make the higher power a committee. They always err on the side of caution.