Learn How To Counter Hard Bargaining Tactics

Learn How To Counter Hard Bargaining Tactics
Learn How To Counter Hard Bargaining Tactics

Our Chief Exectutive Officer Tony Hughes talks to Barney Jordaan, Professor of Negotiation and Dispute Resolution at Vlerick Business School. Discover the strategies that skilled negotiators use to identify and counter hard bargaining tactics during a negotiation.

Barney Jordaan - Let's turn to hard bargains. Those easily identifiable tactics that people sometimes use, exploding offers, threats, good-cop bad-cop, that sort of stuff. From your research and experience, how effective are of those behaviours when you're dealing with experienced negotiators? Those tactics can sometimes really influence others to make concessions. If you've got a skilled negotiator in front of you, is using those tactics a good idea?

Tony Hughes - The first thing to do is consider whether you want a long-term or a short-term relationship. If it's a very short-term relationship and as the as the "aggressor”, shall we say, you can get what you are trying to get in many different places then probably don't care.

If it's a skilled negotiator on the other side they'll have a variety of different tactics to cope with that which we can talk about. They'll also decide whether this is a true negotiation because to have a true negotiation, there needs to be an overlap, there needs to be a mutual benefit.

If there isn’t, if they're that far apart, then it's not a negotiation. The skilled negotiators will remember that this is a negotiation, it isn't a power play.

Skilled negotiators will have done the preparation and planning properly. They will have planned their worst-case scenario for each negotiable issue that they may have. They will also make sure that they don't give concessions, that every time they move it's in trade for something else. They make conditional proposals, “We will do this, if you do that.”

If the other side won't look for any conditional trades, particularly when you know, because of your planning that there are certain things that they want and that you can give them if you get something back. You probably need to go back to what we'd call the fallback position, which is probably the most important part of your planning.

The fallback is what happens if you don't get a deal. At that point, you're saying, “if I don't get a deal here, I can go and sell these things over here” then you probably want to say, “I'm sorry, this is not this is not for us, let's walk away from it.”

You’re reversing that threat a little bit to test if this is a true negotiation or not.

Barney Jordaan - What would your advice be if somebody is dealing with was a hard bargainer? defusing some of these tactics, what would be the key things to keep in mind?

Tony Hughes - Some of the behavioural tactics. Test whether they are really talking from a real position of where they are. Is that really what they want to do? Do they really want to push us away? Are they sure that they don't want to move on anything?

Don't behave weak. That's where the fallback position comes in. You must behave just as powerfully as them and to defuse the situation by testing understanding and finding common ground. What is the reason for being there? What is the mutual benefit of you both walking away with a deal that you're happy with? It's not a 50:50. negotiations are very rarely 50:50.

The deal that you're both happy with is probably going to be the common ground. If you can't keep coming back to that common ground to lubricate the discussion, then there's a good chance you're not really in a in a negotiation that is going to be of any benefit to you.

Missed the previous video? Learn how you can strengthen your negotiation arguments here.
Ready for the next video? Discover if you should make the first offer in a negotiation here.

About the Author
Tony Hughes

Written by Tony Hughes

Huthwaite's CEO, Tony actively promotes the cause for sales and service excellence, and is part of the judging panels for the National Sales Awards and The National Business Awards. In recognition of his outstanding contribution to Sales and Marketing, in 2010, Tony was presented with the inaugural ISMM Lifetime Achievement Award at The British Excellence in Sales and Marketing Awards.