Have you ever been in a negotiation where things were not going very well for you? Where you and the other side of the table just seemed to get bogged down on a specific topic and couldn’t make any progress in the negotiations no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques you used? Well good news – professional negotiators know how to handle sticky issues like this.
What Is A “Sticky Issue”?
Every negotiation that we get involved in will have its ups and downs — this is part of the negotiation definition. As we discuss an issue, we may discover that we are unable to easily come to an agreement with the other side on this issue regarding what is being negotiated. It’s how we handle these “sticky issues” during the negotiation process that can determine how the negotiation turns out.
The risk that you run when you encounter a sticky issue during a negotiation is that the other side of the table will harden their position. They won’t want to agree with whatever you are proposing and so they’ll start to dig in on their position.
Likewise, the other side of the table may start to say “no” to your proposals in regards to this issue. There is a real danger when this starts to happen. If they start to get comfortable saying “no”, then they may start to use this as the answer to all of your questions.
How Can A Negotiator Deal With A Sticky Issue?
As a negotiator, you’re going to have to find a way to deal with sticky issues when they pop up. What this means is that you’ve got to come up with a strategy for making sure that a sticky issue does not derail your negotiations.
What the professional negotiators do is when they encounter a sticky issue is that they shift the discussion to another topic. They don’t try to resolve the sticky issue, they simply move on. If the topic that they move on to turns out to be another sticky issue, then they’ll move on yet again.
As a negotiator you are going to have to have a plan going into the negotiations. You are going to have to understand which of the issues may result in contention with the other side. You are also going to have to have a good feel for how far you are going to be willing to bend on each of these issues.
What all of this issue-hopping is going to buy for you is what we like to call negotiating momentum. This occurs when you are able to get the other side to agree with you on some of the issues that you’ve hopped to. The more of these that you are able to build up, the more of an impetus towards reaching a settlement there will be. Keep at it and eventually you’ll be able to reach a deal with the other side.
What Does All Of This Mean For You?
It is a fact of life that in any principled negotiation you can run into a sticky issue. This is an issue that you just don’t seem be able to see eye-to-eye with the other side on. It may appear to be threating the negotiations.
Smart negotiators know that the best way to deal with a sticky issue is to move on – leave the issue and skip to another one. By doing this you avoid having a single issue derail the negotiations. Once you’ve had success on another issue, you can come back to the sticky issue later on.
Every negotiation is a collection of issues. As a skilled negotiator, you need to learn how to avoid having a single sticky issue cause your next negotiation fall apart. Use the skipping technique to keep the negotiations moving forward and you’ll be able to reach a deal faster than ever before.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™
Question For You: What do you think the characteristics of an issue are that identify it as being “sticky”?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
So there you are, you’ve just presented what you think should be an acceptable deal to the other side of the table and yet it doesn’t look like they are going to go for it. What gives? Experienced negotiators know that sometimes during negotiations the other side of the table can be made to agree to a deal if only you know how to change the shape of the deal that you are proposing to them…