In negotiation, we are often confronted with the task of dealing with difficult people—those who seem to prefer to set up roadblocks rather than break down walls, or who choose to take hardline stances rather than seeking common ground. If you’re skilled in BATNA negotiations, you’ll have an easier time dealing with such people.
One tactic you might consider is avoiding the conversation altogether by finding more collaborative negotiating partners, but this is not always an option. When avoidance is impossible, strengthening your best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA) can help give you the confidence you need to deal with obstinacy among negotiating partners.
If you have a strong BATNA before beginning negotiations at the bargaining table, you’ll have the confidence to demonstrate the positives of collaboration, and you can more effectively head off opposition by knowing what direction you’ll take should talks fail. Finally, you can express your disapproval of your counterpart’s obstinate nature in an effort to coerce her into more productive negotiations.
The European Union took this latter approach with Russian president Vladimir Putin during an E.U.-Russia summit in late January 2014. Putin had fallen into disfavor with the European Union for the Kremlin’s policy toward Ukraine. In November 2013, Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych canceled a broad trade and political agreement negotiated with the European Union.
Discover step-by-step techniques for avoiding common business negotiation pitfalls when you download a copy of the FREE special report, Business Negotiation Strategies: How to Negotiate Better Business Deals, from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.