Why Dead-End Negotiations Aren’t Useless

Are you aware of when you’re headed for a dead-end in a negotiation? If you recognize the signs that could lead to a dead-end early in a negotiation, you can save lots of time, energy, and headaches, by knowing when to exit and knowing how long to stay engaged to reap the benefits. Don’t consider ending the negotiation, just because it could be headed for a dead-end. You can still learn something from the negotiation.

Dead-end negotiations can be very frustrating, if you’re not aware of where a negotiation is headed before it hits a dead-end. To maximize the benefits from a dead-end negotiation observe the following:

Before the negotiation:

  • As with every negotiation, set your goals for the negotiation in the planning stage. Create a strategy addressing the possibility of not reaching a successful outcome. As part of the strategy, determine what benefits you can receive by engaging in the negotiation, even though you know it may meet an untimely demise. Prioritize the benefits, so you’ll have a readymade ‘hit list’, when it’s time to maneuver out of the negotiation.

During the negotiation:

  • During the negotiation, as soon as you sense you’re headed for a dead-end, at that point determine what is salvageable and beneficial to you. Take note of what might entice the other negotiator to concede items you can take from the negotiation.
  • Try to comprehend why the other negotiator is not engaging in the negotiation in earnest. Based on your assessment, you’ll gain insight into how much time and effort you may wish to invest.
  • Heighten your awareness of the possibility that a negotiation is headed for a dead-end, when more of a negotiation’s discussion revolves around conversations not related to the matter at hand. The more prolonged the non-pertinent discussion strays from the purpose of the negotiation, the greater the possibility the negotiation outcome will not meet your expectations. (Note: Be aware, in some cultures, it’s customary to have an extended exchange of personal information and interaction before starting the ‘real’ negotiation. While such endeavors can be time consuming, the getting to know you process is essential in adding to a more sincere exchange of information.)

After the negotiation:

  • Seek insight as to what the real intent of the other negotiator’s efforts were for the negotiation. Ask yourself, what purpose was served by drawing you deeper into a negotiation that was either intended, or trended towards a dead-end. Consider what the other negotiator may have learned about your negotiation style and can use against you in the future. Assess what you learned about him, too.

When you’re negotiating and you realize your efforts are not going to bear fruit, you can still benefit from the exchange that occurs in the negotiation. Even though you will have exposed how you might react to a certain stimulus in a negotiation, hopefully, you will have gained insight that you can use, too. Try not to expose more of your demeanor than the benefits you get … and everything will be right with the world. Remember, you’re always negotiating.

The Negotiation Tips Are …

  • In any negotiation, attempt to control as much of the process as possible. To the degree you control the negotiation process, you’ll be better positioned to thwart efforts created to draw you into dead-ends.
  • Be aware of when a negotiation may be headed for a dead-end. If you decide to remain engaged, determine what you wish to receive for your efforts (i.e. insight into how the person negotiates, strategies/tactics used, etc.). Get what you can, and then disengage.
  • When confronted by the potential of a dead-end negotiation, be cautious of the amount of time you invest. Also be mindful of the mindset you maintain, once you sense a dead-end.  Don’t let your mental guard down and be dragged into an unwanted position.

Greg Williams  is the author of the bestselling book, “Negotiate: Afraid, ‘Know’ More”, the highly acclaimed audio CD set, “How To Negotiate Your Way To Success”, and the worldwide distributed, “Negotiation Tip of the Week.” Visit www.themasternegotiator.com for more.

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