4 ways to neutralize aggressive hardball tactics

4 ways to neutralize aggressive hardball tactics

4 ways to neutralize aggressive hardball tactics 
Winter 2014, Asia Volume 5, Number 27

AHEAD OF THE CURVE: How to deal with hardball tactics how to deal

Negotiators who find themselves with a party who uses hardball tactics will do good by being able to first identify the tactic fast and understanding how it works. In Getting to Yes: Negotiating agreement without giving in, Fisher, Ury and Patton identify four main responses to dealing with hardball tactics. They are ignoring them, discussing them, responding in kind and co-opting the other party. Use each discerningly.

IGNORING

THEM

This response is best used with the hardball tactic of “good cop/bad cop”. By pretending that you did not hear the threats or simply changing the topic, you fumble the other party’s momentum. The good cop/bad cop tactic usually entails one dominating person who is tough on their position and another more reasonable one. The contrast is seen when the former leaves the room, giving space for the other to negotiate with a seemingly better suggestion (but take care, it might not be the optimal solution). Many fall for the tactic as they do not want to deal with the bad cop.

The good news is that this hardball tactic is easy to identify and therefore easy to deal. The bad news is that if you are the ones using the tactic, you may get blindsided away from accomplishing the negotiation goals and more time getting the tactic to work.

DISCUSING

THEM

One of the more recommended tactics by Fisher, Ury and Patton is to let the other party know that you are on to them and their tactic. Instead of getting into conflict about it, this gives you the opportunity to offer up transparency in the negotiation. Setting up common rules of order for the negotiation and behavioural expectations allows those involved to separate the people from the problem and focus solely on achieving negotiation goals. Indicate that you will not be a pushover-you can be a tough negotiator too, but only when necessary.

RESPONDING

IN KIND

This tactic can backfire as now the atmosphere would be very tense. The negotiation may end up with hard feelings as well. Being a hardball negotiator yourself is useful in situations where the other party use exaggerated positions. By mirroring their actions, each party will be aware that the other is skilled in negotiating and thus would move on to trying something different. It is also important to have all your facts right before embarking on this tactic, or you risk being fooled.

CO-OPTING THE

OTHER PARTY

They say prevention is better than cure, and this can ring true for hardball tactics. Try to prevent any usage of hardball tactics by building a friendship with the other party before you begin negotiation. It becomes more difficult to hardball someone who is familiar to you. Moreover, finding common areas and a shared “enemy” can and most probably would result in sidetracking the other party from generating hardball tactics to use on you.

60 Seconds

is All it Takes
to Know a Little More
Quick Tip1

Negotiators who find themselves with a party who uses hardball tactics will do good by being able to first identify the tactic fast and understanding how it works.

Quick Tip2

Ignoring them, discussing them, responding in kind and co-opting the other party are some ways to deal with hardball tactics

Quick Tip3

Try to prevent any usage of hardball tactics by building a friendship with the other party before you begin negotiation

Quick Tip4

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