During a negotiation, you'll have to determine how committed the other side is

During a negotiation, you’ll have to determine how committed the other side is
Image Credit: Joshy George

Generally speaking, when we enter into a negotiation we have a reason for doing so. We are either seeking a deal for ourselves or we are operating at the request of someone else. However, there is a key question that as negotiators we need to find an answer to in each negotiation: just exactly how committed to resolving this negotiation is the other side?

Just Exactly Who Are You Negotiating With?

One of the things that we need to realize as negotiators is that the other side of the table may not be the person who will be benefiting from the deal that we agree to. They may simply be a purchasing agent or an outsider who has been brought in to use various negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to conduct the negotiations for the other side. What can happen in these cases is that the other negotiator focuses exclusively on price without realizing that by getting a cheaper product, they may end up costing their company more money in the end.

No matter who you are negotiating with, you are going to have to be able to show them that you mean business. What you will need to do is to show them a blatant power tactic that is simply designed to allow you to reinforce the believability of what you have been telling them and show them that you really mean what you are saying.

A great example of how to do this comes when a negotiator tells the other side that they will not retreat, back down or compromise. To drive this point home, what they can do is burn their bridges behind them. In effect, the negotiator has placed themselves in a situation where it is no longer possible for them to back away from the position that they have taken. What you are trying to do here is to alter the other side’s expectations by limiting your own options.

The Role Of Threats In A Negotiation

When we are negotiating, we need to take a moment and think about how our actions are going to be viewed by the other side. If we take a hard position in order to show them that we really do mean business, there is a very good chance that the other side is going to see this as a threat. What we need to realize is that this will have a negative impact on our negotiating environment and will turn the other side from a possible partner, into an adversary.

Note that there will be times that the other side makes threats to you. When this happens, your best course of action is to not make any changes to your demeanor. Instead, let it roll off of your back and pretend like what they said really didn’t mean anything to you. This will provide you with more options in how you react to their threat including being able to ask them “I’m sorry, what did you say?”

By asking questions like this, you are going to make the other side have to repeat their threat to you. This will probably have the effect of making them feel foolish. Continue to ignore their threat and eventually the other side will probably let it go. If they don’t, then it’s going to be up to you to do some investigation as to why they are making the threats. If even this fails to get them to back off of their threats, then you always have the option of informing them that you just don’t have the authority to comply with their request: “Sorry, but I’m simply not going to be able to comply with that request.”

What All Of This Means For You

Just because we want to get a deal or resolve some issues through a principled negotiation does not mean that this is what the other side of the table wants to accomplish also. As negotiators, one of the most important things that we need to do during a negotiation is to investigate just how committed the other side is to resolving the issues that make up this negotiation?

One of the first things that you are going to have to establish as your next negotiation starts is the role that the person on the other side of the table is playing. Will they directly benefit from any agreement that they are able to reach with you or are they just negotiating on behalf of someone else? In order make sure that they understand that you mean business, you may end up burning your bridges behind you. This means that there can be no going back. If you do this, the other side may feel threatened and any sense of cooperation may vanish. If they retaliate by threating you, you need to not show any reaction. Ask them to repeat themselves and probe for why they are now making threats. Remember that you can always inform them that you are not able to comply with their threat.

Before any of us can hope to get what we want to get out of our next negotiation, we are going to have to take the time to find out just exactly how committed the other side is to reaching a deal with us. During a negotiation we may need to put on a strong show to convince the other side that we really mean what we’re saying. Use these suggestions to make sure that you are able to deal with any threats that the other side ends up making.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: If the other side starts to threaten you, do you think that you should call for a break in the negotiations?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As negotiators, it is our goal to get the other side of the table to do something for us. In order to make this happen, when we sit down at the negotiating table we’ll try to use both rational arguments and common sense to get them to see things our way. However, all too often these efforts just end up being both futile and frustrating. What’s a negotiator to do?

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The Power Of Silence In A Negotiation

by drjim on June 16, 2017

Sometimes saying nothing is the best approach

Sometimes saying nothing is the best approach
Image Credit: Jemma D

Let’s face it: as negotiators, we talk a lot. We open the negotiation by stating our position, we argue with the other side about their positions, and we use our negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to talk through the issues that are preventing us from reaching a deal. The one thing that really does not show up at a most negotiations is silence. However, as we search for powerful tools that we can add to our negotiating toolbox, perhaps this is something that should be there…

Why Is There No Silence In A Negotiation?

Every negotiation is about words. It’s about what we say, how we say it, and what we really mean when we are saying it. Likewise we spend a lot of time trying to get the other side to talk more. The more that they tell us, the better we understand where they are coming from and how we can shape our story to best meet their needs. The words never seem to stop coming.

If during a negotiation, a period of silence does show up, both sides have a tendency to look at it aghast. We simply don’t know what to do with it. If both sides have stopped talking, then there is that deep down fear that we may have run into a deadlock situation where neither of us is going to be able to move forward. What will generally happen in this situation is that both sides will start to talk all at once just to fill the gap. We want to get back to the way that things used to be – everyone talking all the time.

During a traditional negotiation, there are only two times that you’ll see things get quiet. The first is when someone important enters the negotiating room. The room will fall quiet for a moment out of respect for the person. However, the other side of the table will quickly fill the silence with greetings and discussions among themselves about what this visit means. The other time that there may be silence in a negotiation is when documents are being signed. However, this is only a brief pause in the discussions and the noise will start back up.

How Can We Use Silence In A Negotiation?

It turns out that during a negotiation, silence can provide you with a powerful tool that will help you get what you want. People who are involved in a negotiation really don’t like silence. It makes them feel uncomfortable. When a period of silence happens, they will start to talk just to break the silence. The result of this talking is that they may end up revealing too much or even backtracking from their original position.

You need to have a good understanding of just exactly when you should be using silence during a negotiation. One of the most critical times for you to employ this tool is immediately after you have presented your position on an issue to the other side. The thing that you don’t want to do is to undermine your position at this point in time by just trying to fill the space with talk that doesn’t mean anything or even worse contradicting what you just proposed. You defiantly don’t want to apologize for your position. Instead, stay quiet and use the time to study how the other side is reacting.

There is another time during a negotiation that is well suited for using a period of silence. This is immediately following the point in time that the other side has made a proposal to you. What you are going to want to do is to slow things down and take some time to fully absorb what they have proposed to you. You need to be silent as you do this. If you try to talk while you are thinking about their proposal, there is a very good chance that you might miss something important that you should realize. Take this quiet time to listen to what your instincts are trying to tell you.

What All Of This Means For You

Silence is not something that often shows up at a , principled negotiation. In fact, when it does we often don’t know what to do about it. We generally try to fill any gaps in the conversation with words just because we don’t know what to do. However, maybe we’ve been missing the point – perhaps silence is a powerful tool that we can use during a negotiation.

One of the reasons that there is generally very little silence during a negotiation is because we spend a great deal of time trying to get the other side to talk. If a period of silence shows up, we don’t know what to do and so both sides will try to fill it. There are some times that silence will enter into a negotiation, but not for long. We can use silence during a negotiation to get the other side to talk too much. There are good times to use silence during a negotiation such as when you have presented your position to the other side. Additionally, when they have presented their position is another good time to use silence to your advantage.

One of the reasons that using silence during a negotiation is such a powerful tool is because the other side may not be expecting it. Learn how to use silence to get the other side to talk more as they try to fill the space that you have created. Silence is easy to use and can be a powerful tools when used correctly in the hands of a skilled negotiator.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: Can you think of a time during a negotiation that it would not be a good idea to use silence?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Negotiator Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Negotiator Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Generally speaking, when we enter into a negotiation we have a reason for doing so. We are either seeking a deal for ourselves or we are operating at the request of someone else. However, there is a key question that as negotiators we need to find an answer to in each negotiation: just exactly how committed to resolving this negotiation is the other side?

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The Power Of Commitment In A Negotiation

June 9, 2017

When you think about your next negotiation, what comes to mind? Do you see yourself locked into a small, hot room with the other side staring at each other over an old, battered wooden table using all of the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that you know? If you do, then you are probably mistaken. […]

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How Much Risk Is Too Much Risk In A Negotiation?

May 26, 2017

Risk is a funny thing. A lot of us would like to be able to live a life that was filled with certainty. We’d like to know what was going to happen today as well as tomorrow. However, as we all know, life really doesn’t work that way. We understand the simple truth that everything […]

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The Role Of Legitimacy In A Negotiation

May 19, 2017

Everybody likes a bit of stability in their lives. As negotiators we enjoy having some stability in our negotiations no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are being used. However, we can run into problems when manifestations of control slide into a negotiation and end up stifling innovation, repressing new ideas, and in some […]

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Where Does Power Come From In A Negotiation?

May 12, 2017

What do you need to do before a negotiation formally starts? Well, there are actually a number of different things that you should be doing, but one of the most important is to take a careful inventory of all of the “power assets” that will be potentially available to both sides during the negotiation. The […]

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Successful Negotiating Is All About Believing

May 5, 2017

As we prepare for our next negotiation, we go through a mental checklist of all of the things that we need to do. We make sure that we know who we’ll be negotiating with, we make sure that we understand the issues that will be discussed and we know which ones are the most important […]

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Playing With Power: How To Use It And Not Get Used By It

April 28, 2017

Who gets what out of a negotiation is often determined not by what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are being used but rather by who has the most power. This is actually sort of an amusing thing because of the very nature of power – we can’t see it, we don’t know who has it […]

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How To Get The Other Side To Tell You What You Need To Know

April 21, 2017

I’m all about doing my homework before I start a negotiation. I’ll have a talk with Google, call up people that the other side of the table have negotiated with in the past, and I’ll study the issues that we’ll be discussing. However, no matter how good of a job that I do in preparing […]

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The Challenge Of Getting Accurate Information In A Negotiation

April 7, 2017

If you want to have any hope of getting the deal that you are seeking out of your next negotiation, then you’re going to need some information in order to be able to make the right decisions. Yes, you’ll need to do some homework and see what you can find out about the other side […]

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