Have you been in a negotiation that you thought was over – only to discover that it wasn’t – there was one little thing that needed addressing? It might have been, someone wouldn’t sign off on the deal. Or, maybe it was, ‘the last one was just sold.’ Your reopened negotiation might have taken on any variation of the last two excuses. More than likely, the excuses were contrived, already baked into the negotiation plans of the other negotiator. If you let such tricks bother you, they can blow your mind.
The following is how some negotiators use such tricks and how you can protect yourself against them.
The Cheat: Someone that’s dishonest or someone that uses the deal, no deal strategy
Challenge – Some negotiators are downright scoundrels. Their main strategy is figuring out how they can cheat you. They’ll use such tricks as concluding a deal, waiting until the covenants of the agreement are due, and then back out or request slight concessions. You can sue them for not abiding by the agreement but that means you’ll waste more time dealing with them.
Response – This person can be extremely difficult to deal with – if possible don’t deal with him. As in any negotiation, you should have background information about the other negotiator. Part of that due diligence should be uncovering his negotiation style based on his past negotiations. If he’s used cheating tactics in the past, they should be easy to uncover.
If avoiding him is not possible, observe how he responds throughout the negotiation. Such individuals may be very accommodating when engaging you – they’re setting you up for the cheat to come. Use time as your ally – stretch the negotiation out. At intervals, have deliverables that he must meet before the negotiation can occur. If he welshes at any interval, let that serve as consideration to abandon the negotiation. To better insulate yourself, front-load his deliverables to guard against you investing unnecessary time in the negotiation.
Moving Target – That’s not what I/you said.
Challenge – The negotiator that employs this tactic can use it in different forms. She can play the confused person, “I don’t know what I was thinking – that’s not what I meant.” Or, she can attempt to paint you as the bumbling idiot – “how in the world could you have inferred that? I would never make such an offer.”
Response – When she uses either form of this tactic, stop her – explore how the point of miscommunication occurred. Then, note to what degree, if at all, it occurs again. If it does, ask her if she’s intentionally miscommunicating with you. If she becomes flustered, so be it. Get the tactic out and in the open. You’ll disarm her use of it by doing so.
Time Delayers: I’m sorry. I’m not ready to continue. Can we postpone until next week/month?
Challenge – Every good negotiator knows, the more time you put into a negotiation, the more energy you’ll spend in seeing it to its conclusion. Therein lies the trap. Because, the more time you spend, the more likely you are to make concessions.
Response – Note the reasoning behind the request to delay the negotiation – seek its validity. You might consider raising the question about your negotiation counterpart seeking other offers, etc. Observe how he responds. The point is, test his request for an extension to assess its validity and to prepare for what may lie ahead. Don’t get sucked into the black hole vortex of time. You may regret it if you do.
Conclusion – Protect yourself.
The above strategies are acceptable forms of negotiating in some environments. Thus, what might be a dirty cruel trick in one arena might be thought of as a normal way of doing business in another. Therefore, be aware of the customary negotiation practices of the environment you’re in. Doing so will allow you to heighten your sense of awareness per that environment… and everything will be right with the world.