Negotiation Tactics and Tips

Negotiators use these tactics to swing the balance of power over to their side.

Stonewalling– An old favorite, used when the opposition knows that you are under a deadline and time is of the essence. Tactics include delaying meetings, postponements, lateness, interruptions, absences, and general avoidance. Usually employed to undermine confidence and force concession.

Dodging– Dodging is quite similar to stonewalling, but less of a power play. It is most often used to shift attention from relevant issues. Dodgers want to distract opponents by focusing on less significant points or to avoid relevant issues. Tactics include small talk, diversion, conflict avoidance, and general deviation from the main issue.

Emotional Outbursts– Outbursts are used by bold negotiators surprise and unhinge their opponents. They want to create an unexpected response in an attempt to befuddle and confuse. Tactics include irrational anger, tears, shouting, threats, defiance, intimidation, attacks on character, unfounded accusations, guilt trips, and other wild emotional or hostile behavior.

High Ball/Low Ball– This is another classic technique. It is used to open negotiations with an unrealistic offer that has nothing to do with the predetermined bottom line. Negotiators that employ this technique want you to think they are inflexible, but when pressed, they can be the most flexible of all. Tactics include power plays, ridiculous banter, and general contests of will.

Forcing– Also called the “Gotcha Technique”, forcing is something negotiators do to pressure their opponents into immediate acceptance. It is used solely as a power play meant to control and provoke a desirable response. Tactics often include coming to the table with surprise elements, presentation of no-option factors and either/or options, and changing the negotiating environment.

Permission Needed– This is a favorite of sales representatives. Negotiators employ this technique to stall or delay negotiations. They may claim that they can not make the decision alone or they need to secure permission from necessary authority. Tactics include spouting quotes like “we’ll let you know” and “my hands are tied, my bossâÂ?¦.”

Stiff-As-A-Board– This is the hardest technique to combat. Stiff-as-a-board negotiators have a definite reluctance to flex. This attitude is characteristic of certain personality and behavioral types. Tactics include a zero concessions stance and a take it or leave it attitude. This technique is essentially a non-negotiation technique. It has been employed often and works very well.

Now that you can recognize the techniques, you need to come up with a plan that will combat your opponent. Shown below are four easy strategies that you can try out when negotiations seem to be going nowhere:

-Together with your opponent, brainstorm all possibilities and review other options.
-Find common ground- agree on small things first, big things later.
-Show why giving you what you want is in the best interests of your opponent.
-Consider agents to negotiate on your behalf. If you are too close to the situation, it may work against you.

Below are ten steps that can help you achieve what you want from negotiations:

1. Know your opponent’s history.
2. Learn what your opponent really wants. In other words, discover their hidden agenda.
3. Ask questions that will determine your opponent’s degree of leverage and decision making ability.
4. Establish your value or importance early on.
5. Develop and demonstrate confident communication and presentation skills.
6. Avoid appearing too desperate of eager.
7. Avoid confusion by being specific, not vague.
8. Substantiate with evidence that supports your position.
9. Listen to your opponents responses and read between the lines. Sometimes it is better to listen than to speak.
10. Don’t say too much too quickly. Never be the first to state your position unless you enter the meeting with a firm and absolute objective. Your opponent may be ready to give more than you are asking for.

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