What To Do When The Other Side Tries To Intimidate You By Raising The Stakes

by drjim on April 13, 2012

Sometimes negotiators need to carry a big bat…

Sometimes negotiators need to carry a big bat…

Intimidation can take on many forms during the course of a sales negotiation. One of the forms of intimidation that we are all very familiar with is when the other side of the table starts to raise the stakes. All of a sudden, what used to be a simple negotiation process suddenly become a lot more important. What’s a negotiator to do?

Why Do They Try To Intimidate Us By Raising The Stakes?

Negotiating is all about power. The more power you have, the better the chances that you will get what you want out of the negotiations. This means that the other side of the table will always be looking for the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that will provide them with ways to get more power while at the same time taking power away from you.

One way to go about doing this is to find ways to intimidate you. Anything that they can do to make their position seem more threating to what you are trying to accomplish will make you want to give in to their demands that much faster. This may not be the best example of principled negotiating; however, nobody can argue with the fact that in many cases it’s very successful. Many deals have been negotiated using this technique.

One of the classic ways that the other side can seek to intimidate you during your next negotiation is by raising the stakes. When they change things or make an offer that all of sudden makes it very expensive for you to say “no”, then they have raised the stakes.

Ways That The Stakes Can Be Raised

There are a lot of different ways to raise the stakes during a negotiation – far too many for me to hope to be able to list them all here. However, we can cover a few of them in order to give you a flavor of what this tactic looks like.

One of the classic ways to raise the stakes occurs when you’ve been negotiating with the other side of the table for a while. You’ve reached agreement on a number of issues, and then all of a sudden they hit you with either a new demand or they increase their demands in a number of areas. At the same time they tell you that they are backing away from all of the previous agreements that they have made with you. Congratulations, the stakes have just been raised.

Another example is when you are already in a business agreement with the other side of the table. If they show up and offer you a bigger agreement, but insist that your current agreement will go away if you bid on the bigger agreement is not low enough, then they have just raised the stakes.

What We Can Do When The Stakes Have Been Raised

The very first thing that you need to understand about the negotiating tactic where the stakes are raised is that there must be a reason that the other side is doing this right now. There can be many reasons: this was always their goal, they are running out of time to negotiate, they are close to striking a deal with somebody else, etc.

Ideally, you’ll find out what is motivating them. This is critical knowledge that can help you to decide what your next steps need to be. However, in many cases this simply won’t be possible.

In those cases, you need to plan your next steps carefully. The first thing that you are going to want is time to evaluate the new situation. Ask for a break in the negotiations. Next, determine if raising the stakes on your side would cause the other side to back down. If not, then pick apart their position – where do you need to have agreement with them and what issues don’t matter as much.

Instead of allowing the other side to present you with a “take it or leave it” proposal, come back to the negotiating table and explore which of the issues they are firm on and where they have some flexibility. I suspect that there is one issue that is most important to them and the process of raising the stakes was just designed to get their way on that one issue.

What All Of This Means For You

In order to get what they want from a negotiation, the other side may resort to using intimidation tactics. One of the most common ways to do this is to raise the stakes as you move through the negotiation. This is so common that it’s almost a part of the negotiation definition.

There are many different ways that the other side can go about doing this. These include bluffing, changing their mind on previously agreed to agreements, or presenting alternative deals. As negotiators we need to always be aware of when this type of intimidation starts to happen. We need to evaluate the risk to them and look for ways that we can raise the stakes for them.

Intimidation by raising the stakes is something that we will all have to deal with during negotiations. Being aware that it’s happening is the first step and then knowing how to respond is the second. During your next negotiation, don’t be intimidated no matter how high the stakes go!

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

Question For You: When the other side raises the stakes, 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

Who doesn’t like to use a threat during sales negotiations every so often? Threats are yet another one of the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that we can use. It’s like a big stick that you can haul out and set on the table. There it sits, out where everyone can see it and the other side of the table knows what you could do with it if you wanted to. It turns out that that big stick has some consequences that you need to be aware of.

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