Category Archives: Management Learning

Stopgap Persuasion

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi aka Father of India, was a big believer of contiguous persuasion. He also advocated Ahimsa (nonviolence) and achieved miracles with his endeavor. This made him one of the greatest in the world. The reason I didn’t label him as Mahatma in the beginning was simply because, I believe, he didn’t alone give India its freedom. He did put the final nail in the coffin of East India Company’s fledgling enterprise, but he alone wasn’t responsible, countless others sacrificed their lives. I am sure historians would agree to this.

I am 27 and there is a vast load of information (past & present) to catch up, but somehow I have been struck by this ‘Stopgap Persuasion’ phenomenon quite often. Initially, it struck me due to sheer laziness of follow-up, but then it became apparent and stood out. You know why? The results were impressive.

Human beings really enjoy the process, but when they taste success, they forget the pleasure of the process. Stopgap Persuasion is an essential part of the process that leads to success. Naysayers would weigh in that Stopgap Persuasion is nothing but a waste of time. But believe me when I say this, we all do it unknowingly. Just like, we have lovingly referred Mr. Gandhi as Mahatma making him the father of our freedom land.  Similarly, we hail our last effort as the most significant before we achieve success.

So, what is Stopgap Persuasion?

The term itself is self-explanatory but, let me still broaden the understanding with an example. Carrie, a homemaker is out bag shopping. She bargains with a vendor to reduce the price. The vendor marginally reduces the price, but not to the extent of Carrie’s desire. She really likes the bag and wants to add it to her collection. She could choose any one of the below approaches:

  • Bargain further. This would just be a waste of time as the vendor was hell-bent of not reducing the price any further.
  • Buy it at the marginally reduced price. This would cause her heartburn as it would not quench her thirst of being a good bargainer.

But Carrie instead, went ahead with the Stop-Gap Persuasion approach, she politely declined the marginally reduced price offered by the vendor and exited his store. She then wandered around the high street buying other stuff and in about 30 mins, she slowly passes by the same bag vendor’s storefront. The vendor notices her and offers her the bag at her desired price.

Now, this was an ideal situation for her because the vendor didn’t have customers flocking at his store. He was experiencing a lull period. Actually, most retailers in the high street were. Carrie was an opportunistic buyer. She had information about the sales downturn on the high street before she even started her first round of bargaining. She didn’t reveal the information because she wanted to create this Stop-Gap situation. She allowed the vendor to realize the opportunity he missed out. So, when the vendor noticed other shopping bags in her hand, he realized that she was a serious buyer and thus, to not lose out on the sale, he concluded it at her price.

Similarly, in our professional and personal lives, we face situations where we can walk away and then come back but we end up compromising on a deal. Our inherent analytical nature makes us constantly seek for data and information to ‘read between the lines’ in an informal setting whereas ‘analyze patterns’ in a formal setting. In most cases, such vast information overload is handled prematurely. We tend to rush through, thinking that the information at hand would become stale and irrelevant. This overbearing burden of processing information at faster speeds should be limited to computers and not human beings.

We should wait for the situation to ripen and then let the information take center stage. The timing can never be perfect, but the feeling should. Think about buying stocks of a company in a single day or buying them over time. It is obvious that the latter would give the best returns because it is a favorable buying strategy. Myriad occurrences affect the information halo surrounding a decision. This is the core nature of Stopgap Persuasion and it takes time.

You basically persuade to turn an unfavorable situation in your favor. But as you are measured by turnaround timelines, you rush into your persuasion which in turn doesn’t allow enough time for the natural occurrence to affect the information halo. You don’t let the situation ripen. Instead, it becomes a tug of war – pull and push which cause breakage or leading to a compromise. With Stopgap Persuasion, you achieve your objective with much more favorable returns.

A persuasion/negotiation is not in your complete control because the other entity or individual would also have to drive it. So, how to put Stopgap Persuasion into effect?

In a Stopgap Persuasive approach, you would probe, show intent, target, then give it time, let the natural occurrences affect the information halo, then again give it time, follow-up/gauge, give it time, again follow-up/gauge, finally come back and close. By then, the person being followed-up would acknowledge the efforts put in by the negotiator, the efforts to rekindle the target. This would lead to the development of an emotional bond, eventually leading to successful closure.

Stop-Gap Persuasion