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In this article, we present some simple tips that can help you to be a better negotiator and can successfully close the deal.
Not everyone enters into a negotiation with the intention of gaining a win-win agreement. Hard-bargainers are negotiators who are willing to resort to extreme demands, threats and unethical behavior to get what they want, and often these negotiators are trying to make sure the other party “loses”, leaving with nothing or at least much less than they anticipated.
Negotiating with a hard-bargainer can be exceedingly frustrating. Even the most experienced strategic negotiators can be at a loss for how to navigate negotiations when hard-bargainers utilize tactics that make progress in any direction seem all but impossible.
Those interested in learning the fundamentals of strategic negotiations should study and practice the skill in formal education, which will help them fare better in any negotiation situation. Then, negotiators can look for the following signs they are up against a hard-bargainer and adjust their strategy accordingly to leave negotiations with success.
Extreme Demands and Slow Concessions
It isn’t only hard-bargaining negotiators who use this tactic. Novice and nervous negotiators can also make the mistake of issuing inordinate demands and following up slowly with exceedingly small concessions. This tactic sometimes helps negotiators feel more in control of the discussion and avoid conceding too much too quickly. However, the detriments certainly outweigh the benefits. Extreme demands and slow concessions tend to draw out negotiations unnecessarily, and they can prevent parties from reaching an agreement altogether.
Negotiators need to have a firm understanding of their own goals and their own bottom line. It might be useful to develop a BATNA, or a no-deal plan, before heading into negotiations with a known hard-bargainer.
Not all negotiators have the authority to make decisions, and some negotiators use this to their advantage. Phrases like “My hands are tied” indicate that a negotiator has limited discretion for negotiation. However, these pleas might not be entirely genuine; rather, they might be obfuscating commitment tactics to cut negotiations shorter and in that party’s favor.
Negotiators should do a bit of research on the other party before negotiations begin. They should find out who has the authority to make decisions on negotiations, and they should avoid opening negotiations with anyone of lower rank.
A non-negotiable offer is a rare thing. When another party says “take it or leave it,” negotiators should immediately make efforts to discover just how non-negotiable the offer is. Negotiators should focus on the content of the take-it-or-leave-it offer, working to understand what, exactly, the other party wants from that deal. Then, negotiators can issue a counter-offer that is more favorable to their needs while taking account of what the other party wanted with their initial, non-negotiable option.
The typical format of a negotiation involves one party making an offer and the other party making a counteroffer — and counteroffers should continue until an agreement is reached. However, hard-bargainers can try to avoid this pattern by asking for concessions without making a true counteroffer. This can trick a negotiator into bidding against themselves and reducing their demands.
Similarly, a hard-bargainer might continue to increase their demands as a negotiation proceeds. This tactic is usually deployed in the hope that a negotiator will flinch at the increasing pressure and capitulate.
Negotiators should pay close attention to the behavior of other parties during a negotiation. If the other party fails to participate in a fair exchange of offers, negotiators might identify the hard-bargaining tactics in use and make the other party aware of an intention to wait until reciprocal counteroffers are made.
Negging, or lowering another party’s confidence with insults or backhanded compliments with the intention of making them more vulnerable in negotiations, unfortunately has some basis in scientific fact. Psychology studies have found that some participants are more compliant after being subjected to personal attacks. Negotiators who feel themselves getting flustered by insults and attacks of this nature should take a break from negotiations to calm down and regain confidence. Then, when negotiations begin again, they should let the other party know that such unprofessional behavior will not be tolerated and will result in an inability to reach an agreement.
Hard-bargainers can use any number of concerning tactics during a negotiation with the intention of scaring the other party and getting their way. Negotiators need to stay strong against hard-bargainers, recognize their tactics and work around them to reach a more desirable conclusion.
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