Negotiation Conference 2021: Deadlock – the way out

Disagreement – 2nd way out of a deadlock

Contract Negotiation & Deal Making

To become a skilled negotiator, it is vital to embrace a possibility of a disagreement during a negotiation process. It is widely known that people who are not afraid of a disagreement are more likely to succeed in contract negotiations, deal making, and even salary negotiations.

How to strengthen your position with a disagreement?

Experience shows that all contract negotiations or deal making negotiating partners will contradict themselves several times. The inconsistencies will often be pretty dramatic. These contradictions are an opportunity for you to gain more power over your opponent, form a deeper understanding of your partner’s motives, and find out what makes the opposite party so convinced of their bargaining position.

As the negotiation progresses, make notes of your negotiating partner’s remarks, including when they made each statement. Mark down all the quotes line by line, mark the time on the left side, followed by the quote, and a “C” to indicate a contradiction.

Make a note of the contradiction, do not address it immediately!

Instead, collect several contradictions first, which you can use effectively in an appropriate situation. State the contradiction and then remain silent. Ideally, the other party will clarify the inconsistencies, which will allow you to gain a better understanding of their motives.

It would be rather unwise to point out a contradiction as soon as you have detected it. You might alert your negotiating partner and thereby keep them from getting caught up in further inconsistencies, which is something that from experience is bound to happen in the course of a negotiation. Thus, every contradiction that is yet to come will give you an advantage. 

Example: During the negotiation, a works council representative declares that his board has given him a mandate for this negotiation. Being fully prepared and knowledgeable on the subject, the representative states that he has the authority to make decisions. As the negotiation enters a critical phase, he becomes evasive and cites the need to involve his organization’s board.

You could now proceed as follows:

1. State the reason

It is vital to give a reason and make it clear why you ask a question.

Example: “Dear representative of the works council, let me thank you again for outlining your proposed course of action. I understand your approach strategically and logically; it, however, makes me wonder about one particular point. Please allow me to ask you a question.”

2. Seek advice

Every negotiator is a human being. The opponent’s pride is an aspect that is often underestimated and therefore neglected or not exploited correctly. This is not intended as a tutorial on manipulation but to remind you that people love giving advice and exerting their power this way. Ask for advice.

Example: “I am having a hard time assessing the present situation, and I would like to ask you as an expert for any tips you might have that could help us get out of this bind.”

Other good alternatives could be:

  • What would you do if you were in my place?
  • Let us assume that you had to make a final decision – how would you proceed?

3. Point out the contradiction / escalate the disagreement

Now it is time to bring up the contradictory statement you noted down earlier. The purpose of this is clear: Your objective is to make your negotiating partner feel insecure, make them think again, and obliges them to explain the contradiction. That allows you to gain more valuable information.

 Follow the steps:

  1. State reason
  2. Seek advice
  3. Point out the contradiction:

Example: “At 10:40, you stated, and I quote: “The board of my organisation has given me the mandate for this negotiation.” But if I understood you correctly, you are now saying that you need to include your board in the process and will not take a decision alone. I find that rather confusing.”

4. Silence

What follows next may be one of the most challenging moments in a negotiation: stepping back and simply waiting. If your partner is now at a loss and taken aback, sit back and enjoy it. By being silent, you are increasing the pressure on the negotiating partner: They must now put their cards on the table and reveal an essential piece of information. 

You can watch the video on “Disagreement” with Matthias Schranner on our Youtube channel or in below in this article.

To learn how more negotiating techniques on how use Disagreement and turn the “deadlock” situation to your advantage, join us at the Negotiation Conference 2021 on October 7th & 8th in Zurich.

Register here.




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