Corporate Legal Advisors SM

COMMON NEGOTIATION PROBLEMS AND THEIR SOLUTIONS

There follows examples of "inappropriate" techniques you have already encountered or will encounter when dealing with employees, suppliers, customers, landlords and others. Learn to quickly recognize the technique and be prepared with an appropriate reaction/response:

  1. "Chicken Little"  (dire consequences unless you do as I say). When threatened with havoc unless you accept their demands, carefully evaluate the likelihood that the "disaster" will actually occur. Then determine the consequences for the threatening party if the "disaster" occurs. The situation may be worse for the threatening party than for you.


  2. "Brer Rabbit"  (reverse psychology). (reverse psychology). "I must have A and B and, at least, get X and Y.") This one is very difficult. If the other party really wants X and Y (the primary goals) and you are a win/lose negotiator, you may end up giving X and Y and fighting to not give up A and B. In other words, you played into the gambit. The only real solution is to not be a win/lose negotiator. But we are who we are. Therefore, you need to honestly figure out what is your basic negotiating style and factor that into your response. And books have been written about this subject alone.


  3. "Good Cop/Bad Cop"  (reasonable/unreasonable negotiating team). Very obvious once a party indicates that he/she must defer to partner's opinion. Do not direct much energy to convincing the "unreasonable" party. If you can satisfy the "reasonable" party, leave it to the "reasonable" party to convince the "unreasonable" party.


  4. "The Underground Resistance Fighter" (passive/aggressive). Generally employed by a seemingly passive person who is really very aggressive. Person does not directly indicate her/his dissatisfaction with the process but instead tries to disrupt transaction indirectly (showing up late, failing to bring necessary papers, etc.). You need to take control of the situation by preparing necessary papers or doing other tasks necessary. Once the person is faced with a fait accompli, they tend to give up.


  5. "The Context Manipulator" (passive/aggressive). Closely related to the above resistance fighter, this fellow manipulates the time, location and/or setting of the negotiation in an attempt to make you feel less powerful. If he keeps you waiting, leave and set up a new session at your office. If you are sitting in a lower chair, move. If the sun is in your eyes, lower the shade. Don't let these tactics get to you. And let your counterparts know they are not working.


  6. "Wolf in Sheepskin" (Yes ., But ..). Party feigns lack of ability and knowledge in order to evoke your sympathy and weaken your resolve. This kind of person acknowledges the reasonableness of your position but explains why your concessions are not sufficient. Do not allow this person to evoke sympathy to the point where you concede to find a "solution" for this poor soul. Force this person to state their own position so that you can challenge it directly.


  7. "The Nibbler" (extra concessions). After a "final" agreement has been reached the other party starts demanding extra concessions. Once you are committed to the "final" agreement, you are prone to concede more to keep the agreement in place. Keep in mind that the other party is probably not willing to let the deal fall through over these additional demands. Best approach is to reciprocate with your own additional demands.


  8. "The Errand Boy" (limited/no authority). This person claims that any agreement must be approved by the absent principal with final authority. Allows the user of this technique to obtain your commitment to an agreement which the other party can then modify due to "unexpected" demands of the absent principal. You can end up bidding against yourself through consecutive offers. Say it nice or say it nasty, just say it - you do not negotiate with a person who has limited or no authority. Reconvene when someone with power shows up.


  9. "The Blitzkrieg" (numerical superiority). The larger team can more easily monitor the other side's verbal and nonverbal signals. This larger team will always out-think a single participant. Your best solution is to increase the size of your team to counteract numerical superiority.


  10. "The Minimizer" (so what ). This person will attempt to minimize concessions or offers you make. The simple solution is to withdraw any concessions or offers that the other side indicates are worth little. You will soon discover if it really was of minimal value.


  11. "Attila the Hun" (real or feigned anger). A very complex situation. Real anger is dangerous to the angry person since loss of control may cause unintended information disclosures. Real or feigned anger can be used to try to impress you with the seriousness of the situation and/or to intimidate you. To your advantage, observe the angry person to detect nonverbal clues and listen for verbal leaks. Eventually, you have to (and you may use one or all of these tactics): i. appear personally offended and try to guilt or embarrass the angry party into granting concessions; ii. respond in kind; or iii. terminate the session.


  12. "Crazy As A Fox" (real or feigned irrational behavior). You cannot use any of your skills in negotiating with a truly irrational person. In any event, you do not want to do business with such a person. The tough part is determining if the other party is truly irrational or just acting that way. One test is to determine if he consistently acts irrational only on issues that help him. If so, he is probably just trying to gain a strategic advantage. That being the case, just ignore his behavior and proceed as in any other highly competitive negotiation.
You make your living, in no small part, by negotiating. Ultimately, the best solution is to be better prepared than the other party. You may not be as energetic, charismatic, manipulative, or even as intelligent as the other party. You can, however, be better prepared and out-work the other side.