Today's tip on negotiating comes directly from a conversation I had with one of my neighbors Marty. It is often said that great neighbors are the result of a strong fence. If that’s the case then outstanding neighbors are those who have a knack for sharing appropriate knowledge & wisdom. There were definitely some gems in this exchange.
What is the most common reason, or two, that negotiations fail/breakdown/stall? What can be done to avoid it?
The reasons negotiations fail, stall or breakdown are actually varied. Please note the following is based on observations of practitioners, and as such, it has presented itself enough such that it is very much a reality.
The most common reason is that one party chooses not to negotiate. They take a stance that is non-negotiable in their mind and they will then just decide not to negotiate at all. When you don't engage the other side there is no negotiation, just standoff. Or worse yet, if they do engage having a fixed position it results in an argument.
Other reasons can include:
- One or both sides do not understand the problem and you try to resolve the conflict by resolving the wrong problem. That leads to argument.
- It also may be outside policy or the authority of the other person to negotiate. This may be the fact you are negotiating with a person who is not a decision maker, or it is truly out of policy or out of bounds.
- One party makes a unrealistic proposal. This leads to argument and may lead to an equally unrealistic counter proposa
- One party just haggles with you on one issue; price, time, etc. This is not a negotiation and it may lead to both sides being disappointed by just having a bit of what they really want.
So how can you avoid false signals, misunderstandings, weak arguments, confusion and ultimately a loggerhead?
- Plan out what it is that they may need or even know what they need then see how you can work it into what your desired result.
- Be specific in you communications, and make sure that the counterparty is as well, about needs in order to resolve the conflict. Don’t leave the other party to guess because normally they are wrong.
- Make a proposal. If neither side communication how could you expect movement toward a mutually agreeable space?
About the Insight Contributor: Marty Finkle is the CEO of Scotwork (NA) Inc. Marty runs Scotwork’s North American business where he and his team of seasoned negotiators work with over 100 companies in over 20 industries focused on negotiations.