Use ice cream tactics to get a payrise

Carbs? What carbs?

Carbs? What carbs?

Machiavellian tactics have a powerful effect on negotiators’ performance.

Negotiators who expressed higher degree of belief in their ability to influence other people achieved higher average profit
— Huber and Neale

In common London terms this is called “blag”.

Here’s a five minute take on blagging. Not blogging.


1)            Be cheeky (this especially applies to women in salary negotiations, honestly, ladies. You are terrible at this and need to get better). Ask for an amount of money/concession which makes you actually uncomfortable. Then shut up and let the tumbleweed of silence roll across the conversation, while maintaining eye contact.

2)           Learn from the world’s best negotiators. Children. They are:

a.            Insistent

b.            Don’t listen to logic

c.             Devious. My friend T puts it like this

Little Amalie, who is 2 won’t stay in bed. Keeps waking up. Wants to be picked up all the time. We’ve tried everything. Refused to let her get up, no matter what the tantrums. So at 3am she shouts at me DADDY I’VE DONE A WEE! In her bed. Can’t really let her stay in it after that.

 (I’ve left out the swearing). (There was a lot of swearing).

d.            I mean it, children really are devious. I love this quote from the Economist book on Negotiation: 

Children open negotiations on the balance between cabbage and ice cream with a firm refusal to eat any cabbage at all. You inevitably start off by threatening “No cabbage, no ice cream”. Your futile offers move through “some cabbage, then ice cream” to “Just look at the cabbage for a second, and you can have the ice cream.” Finally, you give in and pass the ice cream.

If you think about it, what children do is anchor around a ridiculous demand.

In pictorial form:

Stage 1:

Stage 2


Stage 3


When it comes to negotiation, I'm also fond of the game of chicken, where the principle of the game is that while each player prefers not to yield to the other, the worst possible outcome occurs when both players do not yield (no dinner gets eaten, and no ice cream either). 

One nifty trick of negotiation is therefore convincing the other side that you will NOT YIELD to them, because:


When the game of chicken is played with cars, that’s two cars driving along a straight line, towards each other. You’re trying to convince the other side that you are prepared to win (or crash horribly, regardless of the consequences). I don't recommend that version. What I do recommend is showing the other side that while you may concede on a few minor points, when it comes to your own personal ice-cream goal, 


However, if the other side is big and mean, you might want to add this tactic in - the trick of disinformation.

The British are particularly good at this. We spent most of WWII using beautiful distractions like this daringly deceptive tactical duo:


The Nazis had been bombing London rather, ah, vigorously, when all of sudden, the RAF started shooting down a lot more planes. At night. When it was really dark. Like, really. When the British press started reporting this, interview with RAF pilot John Cunningham was published, where "Cat's Eyes Cunningham" and his amazing abilities to ping planes out of the sky, in pitch black ,were cunningly chalked up to his love of carrots. Yes, we really did tell the Germans our pilots ate carrots to see in the dark (we had radar). 


Given that we’re on a sea theme with anchoring (As well as a chicken theme. Oh dear.), – there was also a WWII operation called “mincemeat” (I did not make this up), where the British intelligence services stuck false documents on a corpse and left the body to wash up on a beach in Spain. They even put him in really good underwear so that the Germans would be convinced he was posh enough to be entrusted with secrets. Which is where the phrase “never trust a man in silk boxers” comes from*.

*I made this up. (But you probably should be wary of men in silk boxers).

When it comes down to it, our anchors can be reeled in and re-dropped as and when new information comes to light. Which is probably why, over time and a few generations, our expectations of the workplace have changed from “I’d prefer not to die while working the factory floor” to “what do you mean there are NO BISCUITS?”

So, combine anchoring (“I want a ridiculously high payrise!”) with disinformation (“Did I mention that the CEO is my cousin?/I still have incriminating photos from that work do, of you and the hot temp/I know how to destroy capitalism using just my computer and pictures of kittens"). Well, not exactly. Try not to get arrested for blackmail, ideally.

You could, however, tell someone that you happen to know is an utter ingratiate that you have always admired what a strong leader your boss is and how you admire their generosity of spirit. Because someone who is that much of a suck-up is bound to want to pass the flattery on.