Invite A Good Cop / Bad Cop To Your Next Negotiation

Sometimes it really does take two people to conduct a negotiation
Sometimes it really does take two people to conduct a negotiation

How does the other side of the table see you during a negotiation? Do you come across as being a nice guy? How’s that going for you – are your negotiations turning out the way that you want them to, or are the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that you’ve been used resulting in negotiations that drag on and deliver less than you had been hoping for? Maybe it’s time to bring a friend along to your next negotiation – a “bad cop”

What Is The Good Cop / Bad Cop Technique?

If, like me and you find yourself watching way too much television, then you are very familiar with the Good Cop / Bad Cop approach to negotiating. This technique requires that you have a negotiating partner on your side of the table that you can work with.

When the negotiation process starts, your partner can take the lead. He or she needs to be unreasonable. They need to make demands that the other side will be unwilling to agree to and they need to make these demands in a way that is abrasive and unpleasant.

You need to speak up after your partner has set the stage. You’ll make more reasonable demands and your demeanor will be much more agreeable. The other side of the table will be driven to your side of the negotiations and will be much more willing to strike a deal with you because they’ve seen just how nasty your partner is to deal with.

A variation of this tactic is when the Bad Cop is not in the room. Instead, one side of the table makes reference to a boss, a regulation, or a computer program that won’t permit a deal to be approved if it stays in its current form.

How Can You Defend Yourself Against The Good Cop / Bad Cop Technique?

As effective as the Good Cop / Bad Cop technique is (and it is), there are ways that you can defend yourself against it when you find that it’s being used against you. The easiest case is when the role of the Bad Cop is being played by a real person.

In this situation, you need to let the Bad Cop talk. Keep in mind while they are talking that negotiations are never settled by a person who is hostile to you. Rather, negotiations are resolved by both sides of the table working out a deal. Let the angry words and hostility just flow over you.

When the Bad Cop is being played by a boss who isn’t there, a regulation, or even by a computer program, you have other options for dealing with the situation. You’re first course of action is that you can always appeal to a higher power in order to see if they can find a way to resolve the issue. Of course you can always get up and end the negotiations. Finally, you can create your own set of rules and regulations that you can then use to justify your position on the issue.

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

No matter what is being negotiated your goal has to be to get the other side of the table to come around to your way of thinking. There are a number of different ways to make this happen, but one of the most effective is the Good Cop / Bad Cop approach. The good news is that you can use this tactic even if you are trying to conduct a principled negotiation.

In order to make this technique work for you, two or more negotiators are needed. One negotiator will play the role of “Bad Cop” and will be difficult for the other side of the table to deal with. You can then play the role of the “Good Cop” and be much more reasonable to deal with. The other side will become willing to work with you because they’ve seen how difficult your partner is.

This is a classic technique that really should be included in the negotiation definition. The reason that it has become a classic technique is because it works so well. It is possible to defend yourself against it if it is applied to you. However, you first have to recognize what is going on!

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

Question For You: Do you think that the Good Cop / Bad Cop technique can be used if you have more than two people on your negotiating team?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

What is the goal of any negotiation? The negotiation definition says that the ultimate goal is simply to reach a deal with the other side. Ah ha! Now this is where things start to really get interesting – after you’ve sorted through all of the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that both sides have used, how can you tell when you’ve reached a deal with the other side? Could it be when they have said “yes” to your offer of a deal? You might think that this is the case, but be careful – sometimes “yes” can really mean “no”…!