Deadlocks Are A Small Negotiator’s Best Friend

by drjim on August 29, 2014

Sometimes the little guy wins

Sometimes the little guy wins

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When you enter into a negotiation, often times things don’t seem fair. Specifically, sometimes you view yourself as being “the little guy”. When this happens, it’s often easy to believe that you don’t stand a chance – no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques you use the other side is going to get what they want and that’s all there is to it. However, it turns out that you have a secret weapon that you can use – the deadlock.

Why Just Starting A Negotiation Works In Your Favor

When you find yourself in a negotiation going up against an opponent who is either much larger than you or, in your opinion, in a much stronger negotiating position than you are, it can be all too easy to just feel like giving up. It is very easy to convince yourself that the other side of the table has all of the advantages in a negotiation.

The key point for you to realize is that more often than not, they don’t. What you need to do is to take a step back and give the situation some thought. In order for the other side to even be at the table negotiating with you, a great number of things must have already occurred.

At a large company, in order to get permission to negotiate with you the other side of the table had to get a number of different levels of approval. That means that a lot of time and effort on their side has already gone into the negotiation before they even sit down to start talking with you.

This works to your advantage. The effort that the other side has gone to be allowed to participate in the negotiations meaning that they already have momentum. Once a big company starts to travel in a given direction, it can be almost impossible to get them to either stop or even change direction. All of this can work in your favor.

Why The Big Guys Fear A Deadlock

Once a negotiation with a big company has started, the one thing that the other side of the table does not want to happen is for a deadlock to occur. This is something that they are going to want to avoid at almost any cost.

The reason that a deadlock is something that a big company wants to avoid is because of what the other side of the table would have to do if a deadlock occurred. If a deadlock occurs, then the deal that the company’s senior management had given their approval for the other side of the table to enter into will have stalled.

This means that the people who work for the big company will have to once again reassemble all of the people who were involved in initially approving the negotiations and ask for their guidance as to what the next steps should be. People are now being prevented from doing other work and the deal is not moving forward.

Once you understand that this is the situation that the other side of the table is facing, you can use it to your advantage. Once you know that they will do almost anything to prevent the negotiations from grinding to a halt in deadlock, you can allow the negotiations to get close to deadlock and then ask for more concessions in order to keep things moving. In your next negotiation, give it a try and you just might be surprised at how much you can get from the other side!

What All Of This Means For You

Both sides are not equal in most negotiations. All too often we can find ourselves in a principled negotiation where the other side seems to be the bigger side and we’re “the little guy”. The good news is that we have a secret weapon that we can use when this happens.

A deadlock is a big deal in most negotiations and when you are negotiating with a larger more powerful party, it can be an even bigger deal. A deadlock is an inconvenience for you, but it can be a disaster for the other side of the table. You need to use the threat of a deadlock to motivate the other side to provide you with the concessions that you can’t get any other way.

Sometimes it pays to be the smaller, weaker party in a negotiation. Since you don’t fear reaching a deadlock as much as the other side does, you have more negotiating tools that can be used. Use this knowledge to turn the tables the next time that you find yourself in a negotiation with a “big guy”!

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

Question For You: Do you think that you’ll have to actually enter into a deadlock, or can you just threaten to have it happen?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

All too often in a negotiation no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques you are using, when we encounter a deadlock we may want to just give up. After all, a deadlock sure looks like something that is going to prevent both sides from ever being able to successfully reach a deal. However, I’ve got some good news for you. It turns out that every deadlock can be broken; you just need to know how to go about doing it…

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