What can you do when a difficult person is the main obstacle to a promising deal? There are a number of strategies you can use to bring the deal back from the brink of failure. In a series of posts, the Program on Negotiation will offer ten suggestions.
Weigh the Benefits of Concession
Another option for dealing with difficult negotiations is to craft what Harvard Law School professor Robert C. Bordone calls a “workaround” – a strategy for meeting your current goals without the involvement or support of your adversary. You might be able to induce a yes with a tempting concession on a key issue, according to Bordone. Offering a concession can be a risky strategy, as it may only encourage someone to push for more. But if a concession would allow you to move beyond that person once and for all, it may be your best option.
Build a Coalition
Another “workaround” technique is to build conditions that will influence the deal blocker in your favor. By enticing a recalcitrant party to follow influential others on a particular course, coalitions exploit patterns of deference, according to Harvard Business School professor James Sebenius.
To build a coalition in support of your desired outcome, make a list of those who have an interest in a potential deal, and consider how they might influence the spoiler. Next, figure out the best sequence in which to approach these parties. Finally, present your case to these key individuals.
Accept No for an Answer
Badgering someone into accepting a deal is never a good idea, even if you’re sure it would be in her best interest. Not only can coercion be unethical and even illegal, but also a dissatisfied counterpart could sabotage the deal during implementation. If you’ve exhausted the strategies above and the other party won’t say yes, it’s time to move on.
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.
Related Article: Probe the Other Side’s Point of View