EGADS! You’ve Got To Be Joking!
EGADS? Is that even a word? According to Merriam-Webster dictionary the first use of the word “egad” dates back to 1673. The urban dictionary says it’s a term of exclamation or surprise.
When used in negotiation, it’s meant to be a pattern interrupt to disrupt the flow of the conversation. A pattern interrupt means just that, interrupting a pattern. So for instance, if you are in a discussion for a deal of some sort, whether it’s a big contract or discussion with your kids about getting their homework done, or making an offer at a yard sale, all those conversations go along in a pattern of sorts. When an offer is made that is shocking, breaking the pattern with something like “EGADS!” will cause the other person to somewhat disconnect from their idea and give you the opportunity to have a different discussion and perhaps get a different outcome.
Let me break this down with a simple example. One day I went to a neighbor’s yard sale. I was looking around at some of the stuff and came across a walker that a baby uses for support when they first start standing and are getting ready to walk. This neighbor’s kids were well past the baby stage so he’d had this stuff for awhile. A new walker was about $20 give or take. I asked the guy how much he wanted for the walker. He said $15. I said “HOW MUCH?!” (this was an “EGADS” in different words). He was surprised by my response and said “how much do you want to pay?” I had $5 in my pocket and said “I have $5.” He sold it to me for $5.
When I asked how much he was asking, I didn’t expect him to say $15, especially when I can get a new one for $20. My shock was real and came out in my voice. It caused a “pattern interrupt” and changed the conversation. In the end I could have probably gotten it for less but $5 was fair and reasonable on both sides of the table so I didn’t push for less.
Voice inflection, tonality, body language and facial expressions can also communicate the”EGADS.” It’s just about injecting the element of surprise. Use EGADS to get a more fair and reasonable deal in whatever you are working towards.
See you next week!
Eldonna Lewis Fernandez, MSgt USAF Retired