Good Negotiators Know To Always Keep A Door Open

An open door is how you can save some face
An open door is how you can save some face
Image Credit: josef.stuefer

What’s your approach to negotiation styles and negotiating techniques? Are you an “all in” sort of person? Are you out to “win” this negotiation no matter what the cost to either you or the other side turns out to be? I’ve got some issues with negotiators who take that position, but if this is the path that you choose to follow, then you need to be aware of one very important thing that you need to do in your next negotiation: you’ve always got to leave a way out of the negotiation.

When It’s A Good Idea To Slam The Door

Before we get into all of this “always leave a door open” stuff, perhaps our time would be best spent if we talked about the other situation. It turns out that you may not want to leave a door open depending on how the other side of the table has behaved during the negotiations. If they’ve done wrong, then it may be time to nail them to the wall.

You won’t want to provide the other side with a way out of the negotiations if they have misbehaved. This means that if they have either lied to you or they intentionally misrepresented some part of what was being negotiated, then they should be in your cross hairs.

When they have done either of these things, they have shown you that they don’t respect you or the negotiations. At this point in time, you should make up your mind that you are never going to negotiate with these people again. Once you’ve made this decision, you should feel free to go ahead and force them into a corner from which there is no way out.

How To Keep A Door Open

In most cases the other side of the table will not have done anything to offend you. Instead, you’ll be involved in a negotiation with them and at some point in time it will become apparent to you that there is a very good chance that you are not going to be able to reach a deal with these people. Clearly, this is a disappointment, but it’s what you do next that really matters.

What you are going to have to do is to take the long term view. What this means is that you need to realize that there is a very good chance that you’ll end up negotiating with these folks again at some point in the future. This means that you don’t want to derail the relationship. You need them to feel good about coming back to the table at some time and negotiating with you.

This means that you need to make sure that you leave them with a way out of the negotiations. If you state what kind of deal you are willing to reach with them and then tell them to think it over, you’re leaving them a way out of the negotiations. The door will always be open for them to return to the negotiating table. Things can be restarted simply by having them offer a concession to get things going again.

What All Of This Means For You

When we start a principled negotiation, we know what we want to get out of the discussions. Sometimes, this can cause us to go into “attack mode” and become completely focused on getting our way. If this happens, we can end up cornering the other side – we leave them with no way out of the negotiations.

In most cases, this is not a good thing to do. The two exceptions to this rule are if the other side of the table has flat out lied to you or if they intentionally misrepresented something that was a part of the negotiations to you. In this case, have at it! However, in all other cases, you’re going to want to very carefully always provide them with a way out of the negotiations. You’ll want to make sure that they can save face.

In order to be a successful negotiator, you always need to take the long term view. What this means is that you need to understand that the person that you are negotiating with today is someone that you may once again be negotiating with tomorrow. Provide them with doors by which they can leave the negotiations and they’ll always be grateful that you did this.

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

Question For You: If you have not left the other side with a way out, can you do something to help them leave the negotiations?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Negotiating is tough work. We are not always able to reach a point in the negotiation where both sides of the table are able to agree on a deal no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques we use. In fact, it is very likely that at some point in the negotiations one side of the table will take a look at the deal that is currently before them and decide that that is the best deal that they are willing to offer. When this happens, they may very well say “take it or leave it”. When this happens, what are you to do?