Ways To Deal With Difficult People During A Negotiation

You goal has to be create value that will make them want your deal
You goal has to be create value that will make them want your deal
Image Credit: Brian Kelley

Not every negotiation that we will find ourselves in will contain two sides that really want to negotiate. The other side, for a number of different reasons, may be reluctant to negotiate with you. When you find yourself in a situation like this you will have a real challenge on your hands. What you are going to have to do is find a way to create value in the negotiation that will make the other side want to reach a deal with you. The trick is knowing how to go about doing this.

Using MESOs To Deal With Difficult People

Negotiators need to make themselves aware of multiple equivalent simultaneous offers (MESO) negotiation. This is a negotiation strategy for creating value with a counterpart who may be reluctant to negotiate. Using MESO negotiation allows negotiators to propose multiple offers without signaling commitment or preference for any one option. Negotiators that practice integrative negotiation strategies often complain that although they try to focus on creating value, they run into far too many difficult people on the other side of the table who don’t believe in value creation. With MESO, negotiation becomes a process of crafting an agreement that best meets your and the other side’s interests rather than a contest of wills at the bargaining table. Using MESOs can create a dialogue for a negotiator and the other side with which to engage in the process of formulating a negotiated agreement.

How Can Negotiators Use MESO Negotiation Strategies?

Let’s face it, when we go into a negotiation the other side will often focus exclusively on trying to claim as much as possible for themselves. Despite their lack of cooperation, it turns out that it remains in your best interest to create value, even with those you do not necessarily like or trust. What you need to understand is that making trades across issues, such that both parties give up things they value less for things they value more, is at the heart of MESO negotiation strategies.

The easiest way to make a trade like this requires some degree of trust between parties. For example, both sides could honestly and openly share information, or you could ask the other side to tell you what they value. As an example of doing this, you might ask a customer how much financial value they place on receiving an order within two weeks rather than the standard delivery time of four weeks. In order to do this correctly, you’ll need to frame such questions with care to prompt a frank response. Additionally, because of the power of reciprocity, you are more likely to get an answer if you have given the other side some useful information.

However, we live in the real world. Let’s assume you’ve already tried these strategies, and they didn’t work because this time you are dealing with difficult people. Here are two strategies that are especially useful when an uncooperative person is on the other side of the table.

The first negotiation strategy is to simply make multiple offers simultaneously. During a negotiation, if you put only one offer on the table at a time, if it’s turned down you will learn very little. Now think about what happens when you present multiple offers, each of which is equally valuable to you, simultaneously. If the other side refuses all of them, ask them which one they like the best. Their preference for a specific offer provides a clue about where you might find value-creating trades. Additionally, making multiple offers simultaneously signals your willingness to be accommodating and flexible, and your desire to understand the other party’s preferences and needs. So the next time you are about to make an offer, consider making three that you value equally.

The second negotiation strategy is to search for a post-settlement settlement. Assume that you’ve just reached an agreement with the other side. The deal isn’t bad, but you don’t feel you’ve made all the value-creating moves available to you. Many people have been taught that when the deal is done, they should quit talking about it with the other side. Instead, consider asking the other side whether they would be willing to take another look at the agreement to see if it can be improved. Be sure to let them know that you would each be free to reject a revised deal if it doesn’t improve both of your outcomes. Why would you propose this type of post-settlement settlement? Because you might find new sources of value to divide between all parties. Your initial agreement, which simply confirms your ability to work together, may make you and the other side feel more relaxed.

What All Of This Means For You

In a perfect world, every time that we sat down to a principled negotiation, we’d be negotiating with someone that wanted the same thing that we did – a fair deal. However, we don’t live in a perfect world and so all too often we’ll find ourselves in situations where we are negotiating with difficult people. When we find ourselves in situations like this, we need to adjust our negotiation styles and negotiating techniques if we want to be able to reach a deal with them. We need to know what to do.

A first step in dealing with a difficult person is to switch to using multiple equivalent simultaneous offers (MESO) negotiation. Using a MESO allows you to create value in the negotiation even if the other side is not willing to work with you. In order to get the other side to be willing to trade with you, you need to find ways to frame questions in a way that will get them to open up to you. You can reach a deal with a difficult partner by using MESO negotiations and by searching for a post-settlement settlement.

Negotiating with a difficult partner is never an easy thing to do. However, the good news is that it can be done. You need to be willing to adjust your negotiating strategy in order to find ways to reach a deal with them. Use these suggestions and the next time you find yourself negotiating with a difficult partner, you’ll be able to get the deal that you are looking for.

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

Question For You: Do you think that you should create your MESOs before you come to the negotiation or make them there?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

If you want to be able to reach a deal with the other side of the table, then you are both going to have to find a way to trust each other. Although this is easy to say, it can be very hard to actually do. When we enter into a negotiation, we may know nothing about the people that we will be negotiating with – and they may not know us. What we need to do is to use our negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to search for ways that will allow trust to be developed during the negotiation so that we can have a hope of being able to reach a deal with them.