7 Negotiation Killers

Negotiations fail, stall or breakdown for various reasons. Don’t let these seven high frequency negotiation killers strike down your strategic alliance opportunity, stall your long range planning, or budgeting process.

The good news is that just like most aspects of business, particularly if it’s market facing, the actions during a negotiation are easy to recognize and categorize if you know what to look for.

I wanted to expand the conversation beyond my business development and financial planning experiences so I consulted with those that are shoulder deep in it day-in and day-out (all by choice because they love it). The number one negotiation lockup was unanimous, one party chooses not to negotiate. They take a stance that is non-negotiable in their mind and then just decide not to negotiate at all.

Sound all to familiar? It should if you have, or have had, young children. The classic example that I refer to when describing this phenomenon is that of you trying to get them to share a toy. In a two year old’s mind once something is out of their grasp it will never come back and the value (fun) has been lost. Their hand grasps the toy tight and 100% of their focus is on making you stop. Despite facing a significantly less than desirable, or available, outcome they cannot get beyond ‘toy must be in hand’. What they are unable to recognize is that by sharing it provides an opportunity to focus on other toys (value substitution) and include someone that might make playing even more fun (incremental value).

Think about it, when you don’t engage the other side there is no negotiation, just standoff.

The 7 Kill Zones
Want other reasons why negotiations stall? Here are six other most common reasons:

  1. one party chooses not to negotiate
  2. Misunderstanding the others’ points of view, not hearing what’s being said.
  3. One or both sides do not understand the problem and try to resolve the conflict by resolving the wrong problem. This without fail leads to arguments.
  4. One or both parties don’t plan out what they need or even know what they need. That leads to false signals, misunderstandings, weak arguments, confusion.
  5. Negotiating with a person who is not a decision maker, or the subject matter is “out of bounds”.
  6. One party just haggles 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.
  7. Neither party makes a proposal.

Be True to Self

How can you avoid this dilemma? Answer the following questions before you engage the other party.

  • Why do I want what I want?
  • Do we both have something to gain?
  • If the negotiations end without agreement what’s the cost?
  • Will it help to give them convincing arguments as to why my proposal is fair for them?
  • Am I likely to be defensive or antagonistic with this person?

And lastly, remember that you have two ears and eyes while you only have one mouth. Listen and observe twice as much as you speak. Actively and empathetically digest whatever they say.