Tactics for Negotiation Process

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Tactics are a critical element of the negotiating process. But tactics are often not apparent because if they were, the other side would anticipate them and they would not be resourceful. They are usually subtle, not easy to identify and used for numerous purposes. Tactics are more commonly used in distributive negotiations and when the spotlight in on taking as much value off the table as possible. Many negotiation tactics are present. Below are a few commonly used tactics.

  • Auction: The bidding process is designed to create competition. When multiple parties want the same thing, pit them against one another.
  • Brinksmanship: One party aggressively pursues a set of terms to the point at which the other negotiating party must either agree or walk away.
  • Bogey: Negotiators use the bogey tactic to pretend that an issue of little or no importance to him or her is very important. Then, later in the negotiation, the issue can be traded for a major concession of actual importance.
  • Chicken: Negotiators propose extreme measures, often bluffs, to force the other party to chicken out and give them what they want.
  • Defense in Depth: Several layers of decision-making authority is used to allow further concessions each time the agreement goes through a different level of authority.
  • Deadlines: Give the other party a deadline forcing them to make a decision. This method uses time to apply pressure to the other party. Deadlines given can be actual or artificial.
  • Flinch: Flinching is showing a strong negative physical reaction to a proposal. Common examples of flinching are gasping for air, or a visible expression of surprise or shock.
  • Good Guy/Bad Guy: The good guy/bad guy approach is typically used in team negotiations where one member of the team makes extreme or unreasonable demands, and the other offers a more rational approach. This tactic is named after a police interrogation technique often portrayed in the media.
  • Highball/Lowball: Depending on whether selling or buying, sellers or buyers use a ridiculously high, or ridiculously low opening offer that will never be achieved.
  • The Nibble: Nibbling is asking for proportionally small concessions that haven’t been discussed previously just before closing the deal.
  • Snow Job: Negotiators overwhelm the other party with so much information that he or she has difficulty determining which facts are important, and which facts are diversions. Negotiators may also use technical language or jargon to mask a simple answer to a question asked by a non-expert.


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