In some negotiations it seems like the deal will never close. This can be a technique used by one side to wear down the participants of the other side, it could be the result of factors beyond the control of participants or something else that you may never know. This commentary addresses such a situation, when you need or want to close the deal and the other side does not. What should you do? This article addresses this question.
Reflect to avoid the situation in advance
In order to prevent this from happening in the first place consider negotiating the process from the beginning. By having milestones with mutually agreed to deadlines this can help alleviate this situation. The process can determine ground rules, participants, agendas, time frames and completion dates with ramifications. There are lessons that can be learned from the Brexit vote in Great Britain on closing the deal.
Take a break
This is a very simple, yet a very effective technique. Often as negotiations wear on and potentially as one side or both sides become entrenched, taking a break can help clear the air and allow the parties to reflect with their own caucus and creatively return with a more productive perspective. The duration could be 15 minutes, an hour, a day, a week or a month. Upon a review of your team’s take on your own and the other party’s perspective (position(s) and interests) it may be possible to look at the entire negotiation in a new light.
Have deadlines along the way
Deadlines impact both parties to the negotiation. Deadlines can help parties to become more creative and can encourage concessions. Keep in mind that deadlines impact both parties. Often focusing on our own interests, we tend to exclude the impact on the other party. Explore their interests and the deadline impacts on them as well.
Consider an exclusive negotiating period
In some instances, there may be multiple negotiations going on at the same time. You may be negotiating with the other party and they may be negotiating with one of your competitors at the same. Offer to have an exclusive negotiation with the other party for a period of time. This will allow the other party to focus on you, your concerns and how the other party may react to your concerns. You may have no idea what may be impacting the other party internally or externally.
Change the participants
Perhaps a member of your team is not as receptive to various considerations and by bringing in someone that does not have ownership of the issue, this may allow your team to broaden their perspective. Sometimes an entirely different team may enter the process. By bringing in a new team it may be possible to indeed begin with a fresh start.
Consider a contingent contract
A contingent contract relies on future considerations. According to this article these types of contracts can be used to address issues when a party does not have all the facts and wishes to protect themselves, diagnose areas of mistrust, motivate performance, align interests, turn differences of opinion into mutual value, overcome biases and reduce risk. Many times, negotiators don’t see this as an option, but a good negotiator will consider contingent contracts for their tool box of alternatives.
Bring in a mediator
When parties find they are at an impasse mediation may offer an alternative to help the parties look beyond their positions and initial perspectives on interests to find a reasonable range that may make more sense. You need to explore what makes a good mediator when consideration a mediator based on your situation.
Contact me to speak to your group or consult with you. Check out my website, books and content. I am an international speaker. I speak on how to overcome conflict with collaboration by taking advantage of the collaboration effect TM enhancing relationships, resources and revenues. My service areas are related to helping clients resolve conflict: business to IRS, business to business and within businesses. I have written 11 books including The Servant Manager and Peaceful Resolutions. I may be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and at (651) 633-5311. [Michael Gregory, NSA, ASA, CVA; MBA]