What are Hardball Tactics?
Rather than spurring agreement, most hardball tactics in negotiations tend to escalate disputes and drive parties even farther apart.
In difficult negotiations and disputes, hardball tactics like punishment and threats often seem like the only way to win concessions. Some negotiators seem to believe that hardball tactics are the key to success in any negotiation. They resort to extreme demands and even unethical behavior to try to get the upper hand in a negotiation.
One of the most common hardball tactics is the ultimatum. However, many ultimatums are not true deal breakers. If you ignore an ultimatum, it will be easier for your counterpart to back down later because you have not engaged with or legitimized the ultimatum.
If ignoring an ultimatum is not possible or you can’t comfortably move on to other issues without acknowledging it, there is another option: reframing the statement as a non-ultimatum before continuing with the conversation.
For example, if someone says, “I will never do this,” you might respond: “I can understand, given where we are today, that this would be very difficult for you to do.”
The ideal is to prevent your negotiation from disintegrating into hardball tactics in the first place. To achieve that, you first need to make a commitment not to engage in these tactics yourself. Remember that there are typically better ways of meeting your goals, such as building trust, asking lots of questions, and exploring differences.
You can learn more about avoiding hardball tactics and find out how to make a deal better and faster than ever before with this free report, Getting the Deal Done, from Harvard Law School.
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The following items are tagged hardball tactics: