Getting The Other Side To Accept Change In A Negotiation

Change happens in a negotiation and you need to be ready for it
Change happens in a negotiation and you need to be ready for it
Image Credit: bosela

As negotiators it is our job to make change happen as a result of our negotiation. The other side showed up with some expectations about how the negotiation was going to go and we’ll spend our time trying to use our negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to change their minds about this. However, even when we are spending our time trying to make change happen, we can still get surprised when things change on us. This can put us in a difficult position because now we have to tell the other side that the playing field has been altered. How you go about doing this may have a big impact on if the other side is going to accept the change.

Limit Participation

When things start to change in a negotiation that you are participating in, you are going to find yourself in a tricky situation very quickly. You know that something has changed and now it’s going to be your responsibility to make sure that you communicate this to the other side. Oh, and you’re going to want to do it in a way that won’t cause them to walk away from the table.

One thing that you are probably going to want to stay away from is having senior members of your organization show up and talk with the other side. This seems to be a common reaction at a number of companies whenever there is a change – send in the big guns to explain the change. However, this is generally a mistake. You have been negotiating with the other side of the table, you know them the best. You are going to be in a better position than anyone else to explain the change and what it is going to mean to both sides of the table.

Lose The Details

Every change that happens in a negotiating has a cause. When you are informing the other side that a change has occurred, you are going to have to provide them with an explanation as to why this change is happening and why it’s happening now. When you do this, you are going to want to speak in very general terms. You can pin the reason for the change on such things as the economy, changes in technology, or even on the competition.

The one thing that you don’t want to do is to get too specific about why the changes are happening. The reason that you don’t want to provide this type of information is because if you do, then the other side may start to offer you helpful suggestions on how you can deal with these causes. You don’t want or need this. Instead, keep the reasons general and you’ll avoid this type of conversation.

Find Out More

We all know how the other side is going to react to being told that things that are being negotiated are changing – they are going to be irritated. You are going to have to give them time to get over this. Once this has occurred, then it’s going to be time for you to start to ask the other side questions and start to make suggestions that are designed to help them improve their situation.

The purpose for doing this is to show the other side that despite the change occurring, you still value doing business with them. You want to show them that you are still willing to negotiate just about everything except for the thing that has changed. If you can do this part well, then the other side may end up deciding to do an even larger deal with you.

What All Of This Means For You

There are a number of different things that can cause a principled negotiation to grind to a halt. One of the more significant is when some part of the negotiation changes. This may be out of your control, but now you find yourself in the unenviable positon of having to explain to the other side what’s changed and the simple fact that there is nothing that you can do about it.

At many firms, when there is a change that occurs that will impact an ongoing negotiation, the company wants to help you out. What they’ll offer to do is to send a senior executive to meet with the other side and explain the change to them. You don’t want this to happen. You are the person who is best positioned to do the explaining of the change. You are also going to want to limit the amount of details that you provide to the other side regarding why the change is happening. If you provide too many details, then the other side will start to offer suggestions on how you can undo the change. After you’ve communicated the change to the other side, you need to start to ask them questions. This will help to show that you still want to do business with them.

If a change happens during a negotiation, it will be disruptive and it is going to cause problems for you as a negotiator. This means that you are going to have to clearly communicate what the change is to the other side. How you go about doing this is going to key to determining if the negotiating can go on. Take your time and do it correctly and there’s no reason that your negotiations should grid to a halt.

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

Question For You: If there are multiple changes that affect your negotiation, should you tell the other side all at once?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When we are in a negotiation to sell something to the other side, we need to be aware of the fact that the buyer that we are dealing with has an extensive set of tactics that they can use in addition to negotiation styles and negotiating techniques. As negotiators it is going to be our responsibility to determine when one of these tactics is being used on us and to take the appropriate counter measures. One such tactic is called the “Good Guy, Bad Guy” tactic and we need to understand it.