5 Steps to Resolving Negotiation Deadlock

5 Steps to Resolving Negotiation Deadlock

“That’s my client’s final offer, take it or leave it.”

You’ve negotiated yourself into a deadlock, how do you resolve this?

Whether you are in a boardroom negotiating a vital business deal or with a supplier struggling to reach an agreement, the best way to tackle deadlock, of course, is to avoid it. But doing so involves some negotiating tactics. Here are 5 top tips to help you avoid or resolve the dreaded deadlock.

1.  Dampen your adversarial urge

First and foremost, dampen any adversarial urge. If you go into negotiations prepared for battle, deadlock is the likely conclusion.  Instead, use common ground to remind the other party of shared history that is worth preserving.  Throughout the negotiation, maintain focus on the objective.

2.  Shared problem solving

View any conflict as an opportunity to problem solve. Make sure you take the time to explore a creative alternative that can satisfy all parties’ concerns and interests. It is not always easy, but often the simple act of empathising with your counterpart can help you identify possible solutions.

Consider the situation of 2 judges trying to reach agreement on how to decide a case.  Try putting yourself in that role, treating your opposite number as a fellow judge with whom you’re attempting to work out a joint opinion.  Display humility, deference and respect, commending the other side for what they have previously accomplished.  In other words, disarm the other party by stepping over to their side.

3.  Don’t Counter-propose…Reframe

Instead of rejecting the other parties’ position and focusing on your own, redirect them to their underlying drivers for this negotiation; their interests.  Develop a line of enquiry that helps to problem solve:  “Why…” and “What if….”; ask questions that help identify where the other party is coming from and will help identify alternative ways of meeting each party’s interests and needs.

4.  Build on their ideas

Think of yourself as a mediator incorporating their ideas into the process.  Put forward proposals that satisfy their underlying interests.

Give them a stake in the outcome by making sure they participate in the process.  If you want the other side to accept a conclusion, it is crucial that you involve them in the process of reaching that conclusion. Agreement becomes much easier if both parties feel ownership of the ideas, so get the other side involved early. Participants should come to see themselves as working side-by-side, attacking the problem, not each other.

5.  Appeal to their senses; don’t beat them up.

A difficult negotiator’s behaviour won’t change until they believe that movement is better than no movement.  The more they have to gain, the easier your task will be.

Demonstrate the value of your ‘Best Alternative’ and always be mindful of your overall objective; a Win/Win outcome. When encountering difficult negotiators, resist the temptation to strike back and behave like for like.  Try and adopt a more consolatory approach.  Listen and ask questions when the temptation is to talk and tell.

REMEMBER: You goal is to win the other party over, not win over them.