How to Negotiate - 6 Tricks to Watch Out For
Negotiation is the term that we use that implies the reaching of an agreement through discussion and compromise. Doesn't that sound wonderfully fair and easy?! Discussion and compromise.
However, if you think of many of the simplest negotiations that we enter into each day, such as, 'who's taking out the bins for tomorrow's pick-up?' or 'Who's making the next cup of tea at work?' you'll notice that some people have little tricks they use in order to get their own way.
The most common forms or tricks are your basic 'push' and 'pull' tactics. The first of these 'push', can often be seen when another person is so aggressive or argumentative, that's it's just easier to do whatever it is that's required (pushing you to do something) or the opposite, 'pull' where the person will pay you a compliment about something that they know is important to you (pulling you in). These are the simplest forms of negotiation and are just the normal give-and-take it seems, of day-to-day living. But once you get used to these little tricks they're easier to spot and therefore, easier to dodge!
Likewise, with people who engage in business negotiations regularly, they will usually have several little tricks that they use in order to gain the upper hand! Some people refer to these as dirty actics, but if you know what to look for, you quickly realise that they are simply tricks that can be turned to your advantage.
The following are 6 of the most commonly used 'tricks'. Pure awareness of these tactics can make you a clever opponent and a negotiator to be reckoned with. However, by learning and using these 'tricks' yourself, you can strengthen your own negotiation skills immeasurably and truly become an adversary who negotiators should be wary of.
1. Left at the Altar: The other party feigns backing out of the deal just before you are ready to complete the agreement. This is a tactic that they use to un-settle you and then bring you closer to their best bargaining position.
This dirty tactic is often a winner because your opponent knows that you won't want to lose face with colleagues or bosses who may be left with the impression that you couldn't close the negotiation. In other words; you could be seen as being 'left at the altar.'
Your countermeasure: Firstly, you should always know going into any negotiation what your bottom line is. In other words, what is the least amount that you are willing to accept?
If the other side is trying to strong-arm you into accepting less than that, then it's better that you let them leave because their offer was not acceptable to you anyway.
Secondly, you should always know going into a negotiation whether or not it is imperative for you to close this deal today.
If the reality is that it's highly annoying that it's not concluded, but not imperative, then. don't fall for the bait! Let the deal drop! You will have ample opportunity to resurrect the deal later if that's what you want.
In the meantime, the other side may realise that their ploy failed and immediately re-instigate the negotiation. However if they continue walking out the door, let them go! You should make no approach for at least 30 days! This will ensure that you will be more respected by the other side in your next bout of negotiations.
2. Forecasting Snow at Christmas: During your negotiation, the other side may forecast future sales growth, and figures based on historic averages and then accelerate these into what will happen the figures into the future This is similar to the sales tool, aptly named 'The call-girl principle', in which a service is worth more before it has actually performed! However ALL forecasts are pure speculation because nobody actually knows what the future holds. Therefore forecasts of figures or return on investment are about as accurate as forecasting snow on December 25th for the next three Christmases!
Your countermeasure: Always do your homework and know your figures going into a negotiation! Then base your pricing ONLY on past history, NEVER on forecasted figures!
If the other side is pushing for 'worth' based on 'forecasts', then simply negotiate a settlement called 'If and When', whereby bonuses or pay-outs can become payable if and when, the accelerated growth or forecasted figures actually happen.
3. I'm Not Your Man!: At some point during your negotiation, the other party may say that they are not the person who will make the final decision.
Your countermeasure: Stop negotiating! You are wasting your time and energy.
4. Crunch Time - The other party either looks or sounds exasperated and begins to apply pressure by saying, "That's nonsense, you'll have to do much better than that."
Your countermeasure: Always remember that negotiating anything is about setting 'Anchors'. In other words you must establish the boundaries within which you are prepared to negotiate. Therefore, the best method to use against this tactic is called the 'flinch', (also known as the 'Short, Sharp. Shock'). This is where you mirror the emotion displayed by your opponent and then revert to your first opening bid.
The other side will quickly realise that every time they annoy you like this, they will end up right back at the very beginning again. This is hugely frustrating for your opponent, but great fun for you!
5. Bring on the Dancing Girls - You'll know this tactic is being used when your opponent talks and talks for a long time without saying anything substantive to the real issues. In other words, they're bringing everything that they can think of into the discussion in a bid to distract you from the real points of negotiation and give you a feel good factor. When I see this ploy I always smile to myself and think "Okay lads! We've had everything else, now let's bring on the dancing girls!"
Your countermeasure: Simply let them exhaust themselves talking and then smile and ask, "Great, so can you explain 'specifically', what all of that has to do with what we were talking about?". Feel free to repeat this phrase at leisure! It's fun to watch them dance.
6. Double Baked Biscuits - The opposite party attempts to re-open various points from the negotiation after agreement has been reached. This is also called 'The forgotten issue.'
Your countermeasure: As you form agreement on certain points during the negotiation, you should be writing them down. So simply say, "No, we've already agreed that point" and show them where you have written it down. If they say that it hasn't actually been agreed, then call them on it and say that you are not prepared to continue negotiating on deals already agreed.
If they continue in this way you may feel that it is appropriate to 'Leave Them at the Alter' as in trick number one from this article.
Ah well. always the bridesmaid.
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