Negotiation 101 - Part 5 - Don't Hurry or Be Rushed and Try to Avoid Having to Comply With the Other Party's "Rules".

The recent political battle over the extension of the debt ceiling is a stark example of both sides of an issue using some variation of this rule to attempt to gain an advantage.  We've all been there.  It's the "Buy now or the price goes up tomorrow" sale approach or the "If you don't reduce the price and comply with my unreasonable contract terms, you won't get it done by the end of the quarter and consequently, you won't make your numbers."  Sometimes it's not that blatant but it often is a definite undercurrent to a negotiation.  "Settle now or we'll just go to trial" is another oft used ploy. 

The obvious answer is to anticipate the deadlines and allow sufficient time for all the issues to be completely discussed.  This is sometimes difficult if you are not the party that will benefit by the approaching of the looming deadline.  Also, because of human nature, it is sometimes hard to get agreement unless each side feels the heat of a deadline.  Is it wise to disclose your deadline?  If it is a real deadline and you are prepared to not do a deal if you miss the deadline, it probably is.  Here is where you consider your "BATNA" that we talked about earlier - the best alternative to a negotiated agreement.

I have used an example of negotiating by someone else's rules in a class I have taught in negotiating.  In that, I tell them that I will auction off a $20 bill.  The rules are only that each bid has to be at least in increments of $1 and that the party that doesn't buy it has to pay me their last bid.  The obvious ploy is for the bidders to cooperate and bid $1 without a competing bid and then share the profits among the co-conspirators.  However, that rarely happens and the bidding rapidly progresses until both (there's usually only two) realize that the maximum advantage ($20) is rapidly dwindling and that neither can afford to lose.  I have had bids as high as $100 before I've stopped it and made the point about negotiating according to another's rules without giving it sufficient thought.  The point to all of this is to try to attain an equal footing in regard to scheduling, times, places, deadlines and selected issues.  The other party has tried to impose its rules on you for a reason and it's certainly not because it is to your advantage.

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