Strategies and Tactics for Negotiations

There are many types of tactics used in negotiations, usually designed to create tension, intimidate the other side, distract them from their issues or get them to make a hasty decision. Below are some strategies for dealing with tactics or behaviors that may cause problems for you.

1. Stay calm. The first step is not to react. Resist the urge to respond in kind. Be cognizant of your own emotions, so when you feel yourself becoming emotional, take some deep breaths and try to figure out what has caused the emotions. Think of the other person’s behavior as tactic, which will help diffuse your emotions. Try not to take objections personally.

2. Focus on interests. Many times people resort to tactics because they feel they haven’t been understood. Try acknowledging their interests, or ask them to explain their interests. Employ the techniques discussed above regarding active listening and building rapport and trust.]

3. Find common ground. Try to find areas of agreement. If the other side is feeling frustrated by the slow progress, recap the progress that has been made. Ask them for ideas as to how to move forward more productively.

4. Change the situation. Change the people at the table, the venue or even the issue being addressed. Take a break, whether for 10 minutes or a few days. Let people cool down and re-focus.

5. Give a gift. Take the person out to lunch, or pay for lunch to be brought in, or bring some candy to your next meeting. When you give a gift like this, it reduces tension and opens people’s minds, enabling them to see you as a person and not an enemy. There is great power in “breaking bread” together.

6. Leave. As a last resort, walk away. Don’t use this unless you are fully prepared to end the negotiations. If you come back to the table when they don’t respond, you will lose all credibility. But leave the door open – tell the other side that you are willing to continue the negotiations if they are prepared to move forward on the issue over which you are deadlocked.

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