Three Tips for Hard Negotiations

Joe Weinlick
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Hard bargainers can make any professional negotiation more challenging, particularly if you aren't prepared to deal with them effectively. With these tips, you can get through a tough bargaining session without losing your cool or sacrificing your most important requirements.

Don't Bid Against Yourself

Tough negotiators frequently use silence to their benefit, often after you have put an offer on the table. In many cases, the silence is a ploy designed to make you uncomfortable, in the hopes that you will change your offer or make undesirable concessions. People who are new to professional negotiation often have trouble dealing with this tactic, and instead of holding their ground, they capitulate and make a new, lower offer.

During a professional negotiation, it is crucial to avoid bidding against yourself in this manner. No matter how uncomfortable you are or how tough the other party is, it is important to wait for a response before moving on. If the silence or negotiation persists, ask for a counter-offer directly.

Come From a Place of Strength

During hard negotiations, it can be easy to react with a flexible and easy-going attitude. Unfortunately, tough negotiators often use this opportunity to run right over you. Instead of aiming to flow with the other party, operate from a place of strength. Demonstrate to the other party that while you are willing to compromise, you have limits that you will not broach. This often requires you to push back when the discussion reaches an uncomfortable point. Over the course of the professional negotiation, your limits will become obvious and prevent the session from getting out of hand. A tough bargainer that realizes that he or she is dealing with an equally strong counterpart may be less likely to make ridiculous demands or use below-the-belt tactics.

Get to the Bottom of the Issue

People are rarely difficult for no reason, and this can be especially true during a professional negotiation. Get to the heart of the problem before moving on. Do so by asking questions that help you understand why the other party is reacting dramatically. If the other party is angry, you may need to acknowledge his or her feelings and ask for an explanation; if the situation is truly out of hand, it may take several tries before he or she calms down enough to give an answer. By taking the time to understand the problem, you can avoid wasting time trying to make deals that won't be heard through an anger haze. Once you can do so, hard negotiations often become considerably easier.

In many businesses, professional negotiation is an unavoidable part of the job. By preparing for difficult negotiations in advance and learning how to cope with tough people, you can make a challenging situation more palatable.

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  • Bibiane Nsah
    Bibiane Nsah

    It is also important to do ground work prior to negotiation. Do thorough research on the background of your negotiation counterpart and the company he works for as some may pay much interest on cost savings while others would concentrate on quality or both.

  • Rich Milgram
    Rich Milgram

    Let's not forget the importance of listening and asking questions. No matter how difficult, get to know the other side and educate yourself as it will lead to opportunity for better positioning.

  • Neal Backsman
    Neal Backsman

    Solid advice. Know how far you can flex, stand firm, and reach across the table to understand emotions and find a place to meet.

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