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October 10, 2018

Negotiating Tip 4: The Irrational Opponent

If you haven’t encountered an irrational negotiating opponent, get ready, your turn is coming soon.

Dealing with the Irrational

What strategy is in order when one encounters a negotiating opponent who has clearly abandoned common sense or just plain irrational

Well, this is another one of those good news-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 encounter that unreasonable irrational party:

1.  Avoid showing frustration or becoming confrontational.  It's our natural reaction, but it only makes things worse.  Keep your cool.  Overreacting 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 in 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 their irrational 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 irrational positioning become entrenched.  We've all had people misspeak and then defend their error in stronger and stronger terms just to avoid backtracking (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 an irrational negotiating opponent, your opportunity is coming soon.  It'll be frustrating and potentially defeating.  

Plan ahead.  Anticipate this possibility and be ready with calm, appropriate and positive techniques.  

Follow that old adage,  "Keep your head while all those around you are losing theirs!"  

Learn by doing as you Keep Negotiating!

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