Negotiation Conference 2022 – The 5%
You lead 95% of your negotiations with confidence. The Negotiation Conference 2022 is devoted to the remaining 5% – the most difficult negotiations.
There are two fundamental components to every negotiation process: conflict and mutual dependence. Mutual dependence in negotiations is developed and defined by conflicting interests that overlap common interests.
However, there will always be a third predominant component in difficult negotiations, namely – dogmatism. Opposing parties strongly advocate their points of view and want opponents to abandon their original positions. In other words, both parties believe they are right.
In difficult negotiations, dynamics change drastically. There is always a game of power. Conflicting parties often assess the degree of mutual dependence differently. If one of the parties sees itself in a stronger position, they will likely exert power to subdue their opponent.
Main hallmarks indicating that you are in a difficult negotiation:
How can you judge whether your opponent’s demand is irrational? Most of the time, we label something as “irrational” very subjectively. Accordingly, never accuse your negotiating partner of being “unfair” or “unrealistic.” It will only create a ground for an extreme emotional reaction from their side.
If a demand voiced by your opponent sounds unrealistic to you, don’t reject it immediately; reframe. By refining demands, you produce pressure to make them yield further.
E.g “I would be curious to understand why it is so critical for you …”
Sometimes you may discover that your opponent keeps introducing new demands, applying more pressure, waiting for you to reach your breaking point and concede.
Do not impulsively give in to save relationships; this will perpetuate their behavior and way of dealing with you and set the “wrong” tone for future negotiations.
Instead, clarify that you will only engage in a reciprocal demands exchange and immediately come up with one.
E.g by saying “What about…?”.
Presenting a new demand will put you in a leading position. And just like that, you are back in the game.
Greatly deferring views
In difficult negotiations, both sides enter the process with significantly opposing views on an acceptable outcome. Contradictory interests will always impede negotiations, interfere with reaching a settlement, and strain the relationships.
Never put your interpretations on the other party’s interests, instead learn more about their underlying motives during the negotiations by actively listening to them. Do not expect an imminent agreement in difficult negotiations, and do not give up a position to preserve the relationships; it will expose your weakness.
To win over your opponent, highlight common interests and offer to jointly devise an acceptable solution.
E.g. “It is important to talk about…”
You are in a deadlock when you realize that both parties are reluctant to move from their own desired outcome or make concessions. Conflict is an integral part of any negotiation, and therefore it is crucial to learn how to manage it.
The Schranner Concept® encourages facing the conflict right at the beginning of the negotiations; in other words – “putting the fish on the table” and not postponing it. We encourage you to see a conflict as an opportunity to find new alternatives suitable for fulfilling both sides’ interests. Your job as a negotiator is to stabilize yourself and your negotiating partner in crises. Never yield to avoid a confrontation. If a conflict has been addressed and you feel emotional, take a pause and act later.
Always be prepared to walk away in a deadlock. Do not, however, make it your emotional reaction to the crisis; be sure that it is a well contemplated tactical step.
Atmosphere of distrust
Difficult negotiations, or deadlocks, signify that there is no or too little trust in the relationship. It might have happened that the parties failed to establish a trustworthy relationship at the beginning of negotiations or that one of the partners broke trust during the process.
To develop trust, present yourself as a reliable partner, spend time developing a bond, and listen carefully to show your genuine interest (95% active listening, 5% talking.)
Personal attacks feed on your insecurities and therefore make you vulnerable. When you are stressed, emotions become entangled with unfounded inferences. Take a break if you feel yourself getting flustered to defuse negative emotions. However, by all means, let the other party know that you won’t tolerate insults in a polite and respectable manner. Do not react emotionally to a stressful confrontation. Remember that your personal reputation is a stake.
There are situations where one’s comments trigger an emotional response unintentionally. In order to prevent this, we recommend using the “Behavioral Change Stairway Model” throughout the negotiation process. The model is based on four principles and helps build trust with your opponent.
- Active listening: listen 95%, talk 5%;
- Empathy: be understanding of other person’s feelings and losses;
- Rapport: finding common ground accepting new information without judgment;
- Solutions: devising a joint agreement.
All companies have different internal structures and reporting systems. It often occurs that stakeholders or executive management who are not directly involved in a negotiation process are affected by its repercussions.
In order to avoid uncomfortable pitfalls that would slow your negotiation down and make the opposing party look bad, make sure that you know in advance how your and their internal shareholder/executive management envisage the agreement. This will save you time and effort, furthermore, prevent difficulties at the later stage and generate a variety of possibilities for a bilateral agreement.
Never commit too early or under pressure. It will enable your opponent to exert even more power and set the tone for future negotiations.
Don’t abandon your demands or give in to your position, instead take notes – this will slow down the process.
Never resort to threats. This should be taboo for you no matter what the situation is. Threats will put the negotiating partner in a defensive position, and he or she will cease to listen. Furthermore, they might turn a negotiation process into a ferocious emotional battle. Always remain polite and treat your negotiating partner with respect and dignity.
How to deal with threats?
If you receive threats from your opponent, act, do not react. You may issue a warning in response to a threat.
The most significant advantage of a warning – it is not vulnerable to a counter-threat. Note that issuing a warning might as well be used by your opponent as a tactic to detract from using a persuasive power of arguments and therefore derail the process.
How to communicate a warning that is issued as a response to a threat?
1. Talk about common interests;
E.g. “We are in the same situation and have to find a solution together…”
2. Outline the consequence that will occur and are out of your control;
E.g. “If we do not find a solution, our HQ will take over and I will not be able to help you”
3. Make a new demand.
E.g. “ What about …?”