Negotiators Need To Learn How To Deal With Interruptions

by drjim on March 11, 2016

You don't want anything to interrupt your momentum during a negotiation

You don’t want anything to interrupt your momentum during a negotiation
Image Credit: mike lietz

Every negotiation has its own unique momentum. No matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are being used, things just seem to be moving along at a pace that suits that particular negotiation. Sometimes it will be fast and other times it will be slow. However, the one thing that you don’t want to happen during a negotiation no matter what its momentum is will be for an interruption to show up. If this occurs, then you’ve got a setback on your hands and you’re going to have to deal with it.

Why Interruptions Are Bad For Negotiations

In order to do a good job of negotiating, you need to be able to keep your focus on what is being discussed. This is exactly why interruptions are so deadly to negotiations. Each time your negotiation is interrupted, the negotiation process gets setback. When an interruption occurs, your train of thought will go off track and your mind will become distracted by whatever caused the interruption.

The more times that your negotiation gets interrupted, the worst this situation is going to get. A great example of this occurs when you are negotiating with someone on the phone. There is a very good possibility that during your discussions with them they may keep excusing themselves to deal with someone who has just walked into the room where they are located.

Interruptions are a big problem for any sort of telephone negotiation. It turns out that while we are on the phone negotiating, we have the curious habit of permitting the kind of interruptions that we would never tolerate if we were meeting with someone face-to-face. The net result of all of these interruptions is that a difficult task, negotiating, just got a lot harder.

How You Can Deal With Interruptions

Let’s face facts: interruptions are a part of the real world in which we live and so we’re just going to have to develop coping methods that will allow us to deal with them. We won’t be able to necessarily prevent them from happening; however, we can come up with ways to deal with them when they do occur.

One of the more common places that we’re going to run into interruptions that intrude into our negotiations will be when you are negotiating on the phone. When the other person starts to excuse themselves because they keep getting interrupted, you need to take charge. Tell them to call you when they believe that they won’t be getting interrupted. This will send them a very clear message that you refuse to have to battle interruptions.

As distracting as interruptions can be, there are times when an interruption may take precedence over what you are currently doing. This interruption could be an important event, a time critical event, or the arrival of a very important person. If an interruption like this occurs, then you’ll need to tell the other side of the table that something has just come up. You’ll need to request a postponement of the negotiations and you’ll need to work with them to pick a date and time that the negotiations can be resumed.

What All Of This Means For You

Every principled negotiation has its own sense of rhythm that controls how it flows from start to finish. Sometimes this rhythm can get thrown off course when an interruption occurs. This is a bad thing and you really want to prevent interruptions from happening in the first place.

When an interruption occurs, you need to immediately take action. If this is a one-time event, then perhaps it’s no big deal. However, if you can foresee that it may be happening multiple times you need to call off the negotiations right then and there. Offer to connect with them later on. Not all interruptions are bad. Some are of a higher priority than your negotiations. If something like this occurs, then you need to stop the negotiations and offer to restart them at a later time.

In our lives, there will always be interruptions. We probably can’t prevent them from occurring; however, what we can do is to become better at managing them when they do show up. Don’t allow interruptions to control your negotiation, instead you need to take control. Always be in charge and you won’t have to worry about interruptions derailing your next negotiation.

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

Question For You: How many times should you let yourself be interrupted before you put a halt to the negotations?

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We all know that we have 5 senses with which we take in what is happening around us (some of us may have 6 senses but that’s a different movie). Which one of these senses is the most important in terms of negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to you during a negotiation? I’m pretty sure that most of us would say that our hearing is critical. However, after that – what comes next? How about vision? If that’s true, than what happens when we negotiate on the phone?

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