What do you do when the opposing party’s ‘best and final offer’ in a negotiation is far from what you consider acceptable? Do you need to resign yourself to accepting it? Walk away? Or is there a better path forward?
The way you deal with a negotiation deadlock can make or break a deal, whether you’re negotiating with a supplier, settling a disagreement, or trying to get a raise. This article will discuss how to break through a deadlock and secure a better bargain without upsetting everyone involved or ending up in court.
Often, the key to breaking a deadlock isn’t even there in the room. The major decision-maker, influencer (or potential influencer), is not present at the meeting. Who else is involved in your deal? Are there any additional parties that can influence the outcome of your trade if you coax them enough?
Don’t be too picky about who you negotiate with. Consider the competition. Consider the person’s boss, friends, or romantic partner. When one partner is required to sign another mortgage on the family property, sentiments often shift.
Consider positive leverage.
Negotiators believe they are in a strong bargaining position if they are willing to walk away from the table. This is frequently referred to as a Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement (BATNA).
A strong BATNA allows you to walk away. I would advise all negotiators to thoroughly analyze their BATNA and try to enhance it before the negotiation.
However, the BATNA is only half of the picture. Instead of concentrating solely on coercive leverage, you should also consider positive leverage. What can you give that no one else can? What considerations will motivate them to want to do the deal rather than fear not doing it?
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Highlight future deal anchors.
Successful transactions rarely occur in a vacuum. Most high-value agreements are built on previous successful deals and entail recurrent business from multiple parties over many years.
Being brutal in a particular negotiation can win the battle but lose the war. If you’re at a stalemate, you can be better off in the long run if you take advantage of the situation to compromise, create trust, and negotiate a better deal next time.
Always avoid positional bargaining.
Setting forth your demands and then making concessions to the other side can backfire. It is assumed that any benefit to one party will result in a loss to the other. In reality, there are extremely few circumstances like this. And thinking in those terms can make it difficult to see better options.
If you’re going into a high-stakes negotiation with a difficult opponent, don’t start by mailing a terms sheet. Begin by discussing your overall business goals, as well as your specific aims for this contract. What are your difficulties? What about the proposed transaction concerns you? Before you strive to be understood, try to understand. If you approach a contract as a shared problem to be addressed, you’ll be much more likely to avoid a deadlock.
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