The Washcloth Syndrome



My client was asked by a slightly older physician if she wanted to buy her practice. The seller was pregnant and knew she couldn't continue in practice as the mother of four. The negotiations went well and then became progressively difficult. The seller was resistant to every number we offered, every plan we devised. We couldn't understand it.

Then it hit me. When I was age 10, I had a sore throat just before I was to leave for summer camp. The doctor came to the house, examined me and said I couldn't go to camp. He told my parents to wrap my throat in a warm wet washcloth several times a day. When they tried to put it on my throat I wouldn't let them near me. They couldn't understand why I didn't want the washcloth. I didn't care about the washcloth, I wanted to go to camp, but it was right in front of me and the only thing I could fight.

The resistance of the seller was not the price or the details of the deal. She didn't want to give up the solo private practice she had worked so long and hard to create. Once I realized that, we discussed it. My client assured the seller that she understood that selling was not her choice, but her only option. Then the sale went smoothly.

Lesson: Discover the real problem and you can solve it.

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