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March 22, 2019

Negotiating Tip 107: Nonsense Negotiating

The “Common Sense Bypass Operation”

I'll never forget a home buyer who was under contract to purchase a home.  Shortly before settlement he was told that the home did not have termites currently, but did in the distant past.  That infestation was minor - no damage.  Treatment was completed and a warranty was in full protective effect.  

The buyer, however, backed out of the deal and (almost gladly) forfeited his substantial deposit.  All this because his "Pappy" (now long deceased) told him, "If a place ever has termites, they'll be back."   No amount of rational argument or protective reassurance could dissuade him. 

All negotiation efforts failed!  They usually do with a 'nonsense negotiator'.

What strategy works when one encounters a negotiating opponent who has clearly abandoned common sense? 

Well, this is another one of those good new/bad news situations.  

·    The good news is that there are multiple options available. 

·    The bad news is that they rarely work.  

It's really tough to overcome situations where nonsensical posturing dominates one's actions.

But the good news options are worthy of review and implementation.  Each situation is unique and we're often surprised at what might work.

When you have that unreasonable (nonsense) party to negotiate with:

  1. Avoid showing frustration or becoming confrontational.  It's our natural reaction, but it only makes things worse.  Keep your cool.  Over reacting only reinforces your opponent's position.
  2. Show empathy and even muster understanding.  Phrases like, "I can see how you'd feel that way." or "It's natural that you'd have that concern."  Maybe they just want their position recognized and their fears responded to without judgment.  This will better position you to inject alternative positions and information with credibility.
  3. Call on a third party!  While sometimes this party is difficult to identify and involve, it is by far the most effective technique.  Having someone else play a listening and counseling role can be significant to counter nonsense positioning.  You might want to converse with this third party privately (without the unreasonable party) and later let the third party talk privately (without you) to the unreasonable party. 
  4. Lastly, don't hesitate to break off discussions before the nonsense positioning becomes entrenched.  We've all  had people misspeak and then defend their error in stronger and stronger terms just to avoid admitting they are wrong.  The sooner you break, pause and give a time of reflection the more likely the nonsensical position will be minimized or dissolved.

Get ready.  If you haven't been involved with nonsense negotiating, your opportunity is coming soon.  

It will be frustrating and potentially defeating.  Plan ahead.  Anticipate this possibility and be ready with calm, appropriate and positive techniques.  Keep your head while all those around you are loosing theirs! 

Good negotiators think about how to react and what to expect when into nonsense negotiating. 

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