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How to Respond to Traditional Hardball Negotiation

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05/16/2013 02:42 PM

In the last entry, response strategies to Hardball Negotiation Tactics were introduced.  This entry will continue with the hardball negotiation topic and start the discussion of specific hardball tactics and how to use certain response strategies to combat them.  The traditional hardball tactic is the beginning point.

Traditional hardball negotiation is where the opposing party begins by making an extreme claim that borders or even surpasses the outer most edge of the Credible Zone.  The next stages of negotiation are followed by slow concessions.  The idea behind this tactic to to try to achieve Anchoring, though it is taking that idea to the ultimate extreme.

Here is an example:  While admiring your neighbor's new car, he thinks you might want to buy it, so he offers it to you for retail (which he did not pay) or greater or equal to what he paid.  Knowing that cars depreciate greatly once they leave the lot, your counter-offer is $4,000 less than retail.  His next offers would be only about $100 less than his initial offer, while you negotiate $500 more from your original offer.

How To Respond:  The best possible response strategy to the traditional hardball negotiator would be first either Ignore (#2) or Identify (#3) and then to Stay Strong (#9) in an integrative/interest based negotiation.  By ignoring and staying strong, you send the message that you will work towards satisfying interests and if the opposing side is interested in coming to a real agreement they will look at interests as well.  Identifying the tactic may speed this process up.  By stating, "I see you are trying to anchor me to a certain point," or "you are using hardball negotiation," and then responding with "my interest is to meet your needs in a way that also meets mine, a win-win, so I propose..." lets the other side know you understand what they are doing and you are committed to an integrative/interest based negotiation.  The same result is likely achieved and by verbally identifying the tactic, the other side will know they have to move to abandon the tactic or end the negotiation.

Another possible successful response strategy would be Acknowledge Belief's and Opinions (#4) or Call a Time-Out (#7) and follow again with Stay Strong.  By acknowledging what you believe to be the other party's belief or opinion, you send the message that you understand what they are doing and you accomplish that in a more diplomatic, non-threatening way.  For example, you'd say, "Well I can see that you really value X for its ability to Y and that the ability to you would only be worth $Z.  It also does Q, which will help with other activities and that is why I believe $A is appropriate."  Calling a time-out will send the message that you do not want to deal in the hardball manner and the time the other party waits will help them realize that the tactic is hurting their chance at an agreement by forcing you to walk-away.  

Other possible strategies that may work include Fighting Fire with Fire (#1) or Beat them at their own Game (#8).  These responses send the message that you can do what they are doing.  However, theses responses have a larger potential to create competitive/distributive negotiation which may lead to an agreement that is not as satisfactory or may destroy the negotiations altogether.  

Have you tried these strategies?  Did they work or did something else?  Let us know by commenting below.

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