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The Rule of 3

By |January 08, 2014

If you are involved in business you will have most certainly experienced a situation where there was an effort made to come to an agreement with another party. Unfortunately, there is also a good chance that you have gotten a “yes” from one or more counterparts and later found out it was a “no”. This is probably also true of many personal relationships.

This seems to be a common experience for most. So how do you keep yourself out of this circumstance, while maintaining relationships over the long term? The Black Swan Group refers to the solution for this problem as the 3x rule or Rule of 3, straight from the Negotiation Ten list. (This was derived from the concept of “3+” from the book “Start With No” which is on our recommended reading list.)

The Rule of Three is simply getting someone to agree to the same thing three times in the same conversation. Personally when I first learned this skill my biggest fear was how I execute this without sounding like a broken record or coming off as being really pushy. Well the answer is by coupling your skills. The first time they agree to something or give you a “commitment yes”, that is #1. The next 2 could be a label and a summary or a calibrated question followed by a paraphrase. Any coupling of the skills that gets you to the end result is correct.

After some exploration we see there are several different ways to engage with this skill, easing the difficulty of execution. One of the things we have tried to express in “The Edge” is incorporating the Black Swan skills to what you already know. Of course there are guidelines to the usage of the skills such as never ignoring predictable human nature and operating within empathy as defined by Black Swan. Ultimately adapting what we teach to what you already do will make you more effective. The Rule of 3 is a good place to start that will keep your head and your wallet above water.