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Industry, Education

March 06, 2019

Negotiating Tip 91: When Things Go Wrong

Murphy’s Law Meets Negotiations

Anticipate and Prepare

The mark of a great negotiator is that they anticipate and prepare.  Another great quality is to be adept at reacting to things when they go wrong.  It's their common mode of operation.  They're cool under pressure.

They just can't help themselves.  If that's not your norm, know that experience and an eagerness to take on new challenges will help.

When has anything gone exactly as you planned?  Negotiations are no exception.  I'm not sure where you are on the skilled negotiator scale, but if you've been with me for a while I'm betting you've moved beyond the basics. 

Looking for and asking for a better deal is probably part of your operational systems.

The Next Level

If you haven't taken that up a level, consider starting today.  Specifically start anticipating what can go wrong, or better put, what doesn't go as you'd hoped. Prepare some contingency plans to help you adjust on the fly and still get that good deal result.

  • When you had hoped to talk to the manager but were left to only deal with a clerk, negotiating success can escape you.  Anticipate this possibility and prepare a contingency plan to come back to later.  Sure it takes more time, more effort, but that's the normal cost of achieving worthwhile results.
  • When your buyer or prospective client asks for a heavy concession or a costly accommodation that seems firm and is a possible deal breaker, are you caught short?  
  • Anticipate that such occurrences are possible and prepare (consider in advance) fallback positions and also your bottom-line "walk away" limit.  That will serve you well by giving you confidence during the bargaining.
  • When a family member makes a request that surprises you, even disappoints you, why despair?  It's likely it's not the first time and if you had anticipated such a happening you could have provided an effective, measured response.  These type of requests, often from our kids, typically come out of the blue and are made at rushed and vulnerable moments.  Silence and a delayed response have often succeeded in such situations. 

 Don't allow a precedent to be set whereby you become vulnerable when caught off guard.

Good negotiators thrive and excel when the unexpected happens and especially when things go wrong.  

That's not because of any special gift, but instead from adopting a strategy of anticipation and preparation.  

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