How do you get the kids to eat vegetables? If your answer was “forceful throat stuffing,” you’ve come to the wrong place. However, if your answer had to do with providing options or layering tasty sauces on top, you might already be an expert at MESO (Multiple Equivalent Simultaneous Offer).
When you include more than one offer in your negotiation framework, each containing different – but equivalent – variables, you are making MESOs. We explore MESOs in advanced negotiation skills training, but the concept is simple to comprehend.
MESO at Home
With children, this negotiation tactic might look something like this:
You can either have the asparagus with bacon or the broccoli with cheddar.
Let’s say he or she selects the broccoli. Assuming that your child is equally wary of all vegetables, selecting the broccoli highlights a particular affection for cheese. Now you can leverage this information for future cooking experiences. Your child may also appreciate the control he or she has over the situation. Research shows that people prefer choices when making decisions. If you’re curious to know when negotiations fail, bring to mind a time when you felt the exchange was one sided and that you lacked situational autonomy. Were you more or less willing to compromise?
Richard E. Heller MD, MBA, in his paper “Negotiating for More: The Multiple Equivalent Simultaneous Offer,” discusses why the MESO is effective:
Researchers hypothesized that because people prefer to have choices, the use of MESOs should allow negotiators to find an acceptable offer more often than if they used a single offer. Their study supported this hypothesis and found that when using MESOs, an offer was more likely to be accepted than if an equivalent single offer was made [ 7 ]. Furthermore, the counterparty in the negotiation was also more likely to be satisfied with the agreed-upon deal. This is consistent with the researchers’ hypothesis that people value choice in important decision making. (Heller, 2014)
MESO in Business
A MESO is an effective negotiation style when trying to figure out your negotiating counterpart’s desires and priorities. For example, you might say:
We can give you a 9.8% discount and send it in 10 weeks or send it in three days with no discount.
There are two variables at play here: timing and pricing. If your counterpart’s negotiation tactic is to aim for the discount, timing is not the main issue. You now understand where your leverage is and the trades you can offer. It should be noted, however, that too many choices may cause a mental block for your counterpart. So, it is important to be strategic.
Most importantly, MESOs will most likely leave your counterpart in higher spirits. Mood matters, and since we are fundamentally children screaming inside of adult bodies (ha, just kidding, but not), it’s important to be strategic with your metaphorical veggie options.
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Heller, R. E. (2014). Negotiating for more: the multiple equivalent simultaneous offer. Journal of the American College of Radiology, 11(2), 153-155.