Dirty tricks in negotiation - Deepstash

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Successful Negotiation

The most successful negotiators don't entertain dirty tricks in negotiation but instead strive to reach agreements that are satisfactory to both parties.

But if you find yourself on the receiving end of something that doesn't feel quite right, provided you recognise what's happening, you can address the situation and swiftly bring it back to a better place.

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Jet lag

Jet lag

Used on negotiators who travel long distances: to start meetings while the negotiator's concentration is impeded due to jet lag or fatigue. Jet lag seriously impairs judgement.

Tip for the negotiator: Travel early and leave time for recuperation before meeting the other party. Where you suspect your hosts like to be hospitable, keep news of your early arrival quiet.

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It's different over here

A dirty trick often used against people visiting other cultures.

The approach of "but we always do it this way over here" can be difficult to counter if you're not prepared for it.

Tip for the negotiator: If you suspect this approach in advance, have with you a local expert who knows the customs.

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Rolling concessions

Rolling concessions

This dirty trick is frequently used to gain additional concessions from the unwary when the agreement appears to be in sight.

Giveaway phrases to look out for: “I think we’ve nearly got a deal, if we can just agree on this last item I think we’re there...”

Tip for the negotiator: Draw up an agenda of all the issues to be discussed early in the negotiation, so that additional ones can’t be introduced at a later stage.

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Delays and deadlines

This is an attempt to gain concessions using time pressure.

In its simplest form the trick involves setting a deadline by which time the agreement must be signed, or the deal is off.

Tip for the negotiator: Keep arrangements flexible and build time around your negotiation. Time pressure may even work in your favour if you keep arrangements to yourself until the deadline has arrived. 

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Sunk cost tactics

This is based on the assumption that the more a negotiator has invested in trying to reach an agreement, the less willing they will be to abandon the negotiation.

Tip for the negotiator: Write-off the previous investment. It then has no significant influence on current decisions.  

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Hot and cold

Hot and cold

The perpetrator attempts to instil panic into the negotiator by changing from a position of enthusiasm with the negotiation to suddenly showing no reaction.

Tip for the negotiator: Being aware of this tactic allows you to remain calm. To counter their silence, and to avoid giving anything away, ask questions about their position. This way you gain information and in doing so, take back power.

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Deliberate confusion

A tactic sometimes used when the other negotiator is losing ground.

Tip for the negotiator: Skilled negotiators deal with this by:

  • checking their understanding with the other side to ensure both parties hove the same view
  • summarising to confirm agreement on what has been discussed.
  • This requires patience and listening skills, but is a very effective way of refocusing on the real issues.

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"I haven't the authority"

"I haven't the authority"

A tactic to imply a lack of decision-making authority. The negotiator is quite happy to accept concessions made by the other party but qualifies any concessions asked for by saying, "I'll have to check this out with my boss, as this demand exceeds my mandate".

Tip for the negotiator: At the outset, check the other party has the authority to make a deal. If not, either match your authority to theirs

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Changing negotiators

A tactic sometimes used when the negotiation is not going the way the other party would like.

The new negotiator often denies knowledge of concessions their company has made or claims the previous negotiator had no mandate to make them. At the same time, you are held to the concessions you have made.

Tip for the negotiator: Counter this by either insisting that previous agreements are honoured or by starting negotiations again from scratch. In some circumstances, it may be in your interests to also change negotiators.

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"Details I can't divulge"

This is one of the most commonly used dirty tricks in negotiation. People using this tactic often appear reluctant to release details of a so ­called competitor offer or other issue on ethical grounds. 

Tip for the negotiator: Even though the other party will probably refuse to release details, you can check the credibility of the competitive offer by asking details such as: "What sort of operator training are they offering?" or "What response time do they guarantee?"

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