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Negotiating Ploys to Avoid

Here are some negotiating ploys to avoid—and ways to counter them.

The Hardball Bargainer. These negotiators take an unreasonable opening position, hoping to force you to lower your expectations. If you are unprepared for this tactic, you may panic and make early concessions. If you are prepared—you know how far you will go—you will be less intimidated.

Take It or Leave It. The negotiator makes clear his position and he won’t bend. Under those circumstances, you restate your position and its benefits to the other side. Let him know that his position is unworkable and unacceptable as it stands—and that you will have to walk away from any deal. In taking this stand, it may help you to remember that the other side has an interest in reaching agreement.

The Temper Tantrum. If the other side throws a temper tantrum, be very clear that that behavior will not be tolerated. Suggest an adjournment while temper cools. If the same behavior is repeated once you reconvene, walk out.

The Salami Slice. The negotiator takes a little of what he wants every so often until he ends up with the lion’s share of the value. Rather than grab for the salami, he carves a very thin slice for himself. The next day, he carves another. Each time, you come together, he takes another slice. Eventually, he has the entire salami. Counter this tactic by writing down agreements as they are made. If you do this, you’ll easily notice how much of the value is being sliced off by the other side and be in a position to say “Enough!”

The Last-Minute Grab.  The assumption is that you will be tired, frustrated and probably want to go home by the end of the day and therefore you will be willing to make concessions. You can either keep track of the time and number of unsettled issues that remain as time passes and press during the meeting to address these. Or accept the fact that you will not complete all the work and have to meet again the next day.

Excerpted, with permission of the publisher, from How to Become a Better Negotiator by Richard A. Luecke and James G. Patterson. Copyright 2009, Richard A. Lueccke and James G. Patterson. Published by AMACOM.