When Is It Time To Switch Negotiators?

by drjim on November 9, 2012

Sometimes you have to leave in order for the negotiation to be a success…

Sometimes you have to leave in order for the negotiation to be a success…
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Have you ever been engaged in a negotiation in which things just didn’t seem to be going very well? Eventually everything ground to a halt and you realized that the negotiation had hit a deadlock? Were you able to determine why this had happened? I almost hate to bring this up, but is there a possibility that the problem could have been…you?

Why Negotiators Are Sometimes The Problem In A Negotiation

You would think that a negotiation is all about the deal that is being discussed, right? In a lot of cases it is, but all too often it can become more about the people who are involved in the negotiations and less about the deal that is on the table.

How does this happen? We’re all people and because of that it’s entirely possible that trivial issues such as personality differences can enter into a negotiation. When this happens, things can start to head in the wrong direction very quickly.

The exact reason for two negotiators not getting along may not be known. It could be simply because of personality differences, there could be organizational issues weighing on either side of the table, or depending on how much has been invested into the negotiation, one or both sides may have a fear of losing face within their team.

The Power Of Bringing In A New Negotiator

It doesn’t really matter what the problem between two negotiators is, sometimes it’s just time to bring in a new negotiator. The simple act of making this type of change will transform the negotiations.

Treat this change in negotiators as an opportunity to move closer to reaching a deal with the other side of the table. You can make this happen by taking the time to pick your replacement negotiator very carefully. You want to spend some time thinking about how the other side of the table will view your new negotiator.

If the problem that you’ve run into is that your current negotiator was expected to be able to make all of the needed decisions or to provide the approvals that were required because of his or her seniority in the company, then replace them with someone who is lower down on the corporate ladder.

If you’ve been having the opposite problem – your negotiator’s position in your company has not been signaling to the other side of the table that you are serious about reaching a deal, then replace them with a more senior person. Simply by raising the seniority level of the person who is sitting at the table, you can often recharge a negotiation and get that much close to reaching a deal with the other side.

What All Of This Means For You

Sometimes a negotiation can bog down and grind to a halt resulting in a deadlock. When this happens, as the negotiator you need to consider the fact that the reason that this has happened might be because you are involved in the negotiations.

There can be a wide variety of reasons that a negotiator should be replaced. Many of these reasons have to do with disagreements that may be occurring between the two lead negotiators – they simply just don’t get along. When a negotiator gets replaced, it is an opportunity to bring in somebody who can quickly move the negotiations to a close. It may be time to move up the corporate ladder and bring in some serious senior management firepower.

The most important thing about a negotiation that any negotiator needs to realize is that the goal is not about making you feel good about your negotiating ability, but rather to reach a deal. If it turns out that for whatever reason, the fact that you are involved in the negotiation is preventing this from happening then you need to leave the negotiations. Celebrate the number of negotiations that you’ve been involved in that have resulted in a deal, not the number of deals that you’ve personally made.

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

Question For You: How should you inform the other side of the table that your side is switching negotiators?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Just exactly who are these negotiations being conducted with? If I asked you this question, you’d probably tell me that you are negotiating with the other side of the table. You’d be both right and wrong. The negotiation process is much more complicated and you need to understand why if you are going to reach a deal on what is being negotiated.

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