Appease Your Way to the Top
If the title of this didn’t make you cringe, you may be a wimp. As far as I can tell by searching the web, nobody has written a book with this title. There are plenty of accounts of people who tried appeasement diplomacy but nothing regarding appeasement as a way to do well in business. It seems that business requires a little more than just getting along to achieve success.
What is appeasement? Appeasement, according to the dictionary is making concessions in order to come to an agreement. As we know, this will usually mean for a short period of time; making a settlement while finding another way to get your own way later. On the surface appeasement can sound good, but often leads to a loss of time and opportunity. A good case in point, often referred to in history, is the appeasement of Hitler only to deal with his strengthened resolve and military at a later date. Sometimes the best time to deal with a problem is when it pops up, not later. Isn’t that true? Neville Chamberlain found out the hard way and was later labeled as a wimp for appeasing Hitler until it was too late, thus being replaced by Churchill who was no appeaser at all. But we are talking about business appeasement. How is this different from political appeasement?
Appeasement in business can quickly become a sign of weakness and turn into a lack of respect. Can you imagine any highly successful business entrepreneur, leader, CEO, or innovator choosing appeasement to achieve their lofty success? I certainly cannot, but let’s consider a short list of names: Gates, Dell, Buffett, Getty, Trump… no appeasement? But at the same time we know that they can use appeasement as a negotiation tool to eventually settle a deal as closely to what they want as they can. It just wouldn’t be the primary way to ultimately become successful.
Appeasers run the risk of having their product, service, or designs stolen from them. They don’t take quick action, and they lose the opportunity. Appeasers cannot take the upper hand in business negotiations since they lose respect and will not be able to press their position since it would seem easy to tell them “no”. Appeasers become conditioned to believe they have won the situation by simply coming to terms after making concessions. They lose trust, respect, opportunity, and time. Appeasers cannot be moved to the top rungs of the business ladder since they cannot effectively close the deal on new innovations and opportunities. Appeasers ultimately lose or stalemate in business dealings while feeling they have run away to fight another day. But at the same time, making concessions, if calculated and negotiated for a specific purpose of returning to the negotiation quickly while some alternatives or additional solutions are weighed, can be of great value in winning the deal. Ultimately you must have a goal and you must meet the goal in order to do well in business.
Which is more important, being right or appeasing? Since we already know that appeasement is making concessions we can ask the question, “Should you concede when you know you are right?” Most people will say no, unless their primary mode is to concede at all costs and calling that a “win”. Being right is very important in business because if you are wrong about your product, solution, service, system or whatever you are selling, developing, or promoting, it will cost you a lot of money and future business to be wrong! You must have confidence in what you are doing and that comes from reaching a level of being right. I am certain you agree with that, right? Being right implies understanding your position and capabilities. If you know this, you know your limits and must be right and can effectively negotiate. If you do not know this, your counterpart in the negotiation may try to assume they know better and at this point seek appeasement from you, since you lack confidence. You lose because you are forced to appease and cannot close a deal based on your true value and capabilities.
Is there a time and place for appeasement? Yes, you should be willing to appease your elders, especially old ladies. Funny? When it comes to dealing in business you should always come to the table prepared, especially with the full knowledge of your proposition, why it has value, and the right way to proceed. You must be right because being right will be more important than appeasing, even when you deal with customers, not just other business people. When you are right, that’s when you truly have value. What if Bill Gates felt he was wrong about the iPhone or lacked confidence? The time for appeasement may be in adding a suggested feature or capability you didn’t consider, an alternative application, but only for the time it takes to consider the value of these. In reality these appeasements should be sub-negotiations of the primary negotiation.
In business you must be shrewd. If you think shrewdness is a negative term, think again. The definition is: having or showing sharp powers of judgment. How negative can that be? If you are shrewd then you must be right, or right enough to negotiate for favorable terms. Shrewd implies knowledge, understanding, and the ability to know much about the situation. If you don’t utilize your knowledge base, understanding of your counterpart, and the limits of your capabilities, you may be forced into acquiescing. This can damage your reputation, your earnings, and your opportunities beyond your expectations.
Be shrewd, be right, be prepared, and don’t expect to reach a high level of success by appeasing your way to the top.