Splitting the Difference

On face, it sounds fair, almost noble, seductive. But before you accept the idea of a 50-50 compromise, consider the net result. Anchoring high while all the time planning to move to the middle just to show the other side that you are “collaborative” has its risks. Splitting the difference is not always equitable — it is mathematics.

When confronted with a counterpart who wants to immediately split the difference here are a couple of steps you should employ:

  1.   Take a break. Hit the pause button. Stop and think before you respond. Consider the consequences.
  2.   Consult with your “team.” Does this make sense?
  3.   Explain to the other side why “fair” is not really “fair.”

Now this is not to say that sometimes the midpoint is not fair. If it is fair then say so. Make sure you qualify the “midpoint”. Do not just say you are willing to split the difference. The risk is that if it is always “split the difference” you will split and then re-anchor and slit and then re-anchor again.

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