How to Respond To Complaints about Fees

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Conflicts with clients are not common but they’re difficult to resolve in a way that satisfies both parties.

Fees are the root of most client conflicts. Clients say they are too high and you defend them based on the value being added.

An interesting study provides insight for how to handle these (and other) conflicts.

Lessons from a negotiation

A study published in the Negotiation Journal in July 2008, explored the impact of acknowledging an opponent’s role in obtaining a concession in the negotiation.

The experiment involved a one-on-one negotiation between a student at Stanford University and an older person who the student was told was a representative of the university. The student was a proponent of legalizing marijuana. The “university representative” was actually a confederate who played the role of being opposed to legalization.

In one scenario, the confederate took a position he indicated he had formulated prior to the negotiation. In a different negotiation with another student, the confederate stated he was making a new offer in response to the position taken by the student.

The rate of acceptance of the “new offer” was higher than in the first scenario. In addition, the new offer was perceived to be a greater concession and the confederate was more liked for making it.

In their book, The Wisest One in the Room, co-authors Thomas Gilovich and Lee Ross validated this finding. They concluded, “People like to feel heard, and they tend to respond more positively when they feel their hopes and fears have received consideration.”