The Negotiator Magazine

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J is for Just See If I Don’t…

Just See If I Don’t is an on-the-brink negotiating tactic and only advisable when negotiations have reached a crunch point. It’s really a warning to the other side that, if they don’t see sense, you’ll carry out your threat of walking away from the deal and taking some form of unpleasant action.
Lee Iacocca, former chairman of the Chrysler Corporation, used this tactic when he was in pay negotiations with the automobile unions in the late 1970s. The union wanted $20 an hour and Iacocca would not budge from $17 per hour. One bitter night, Iacocca addressed the committee. "It was one of the shortest speeches I have ever given," he later recalled. He told the committee, "You've got until morning to make a decision. If you don't help me out, I'll declare bankruptcy in the morning and you'll be out of work. You've got eight hours to make up your minds.” The unions eventually agreed, and, despite the brinksmanship of the tactic, it turned out to be a turning point in the fortunes of the company.

K is for Knowing Your Opponents

The background research you need to carry out in preparation for negotiations is vital for getting to know your opponents. It can include:
· a preliminary get-together to clarify initial claims, offers and positions
· desk research, for example the outcome of previous deals
· investigation of alternative courses including getting a BATNA (the Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement)
· foot-slogging for on-the-spot information
· getting advice from your own experts.
Once you have information about the other side's position it can be compared to your own to find out how far apart you are.

L is for Later, or, I’ll Think About It And Get Back To You Later

Using a delaying tactic of “I’ll think about it and get back to you later” is a good way to put off a decision while leaving the door open. It leaves enough doubt in the other side’s mind for them to consider changing their offer. This tactic works best after a lengthy period of discussion in which both sides have invested a lot of time and energy.
If the other side use “I’ll Think About It” on you, respond with a question that ties them down to a date for getting back to you or clarifies what they need to think about. A more aggressive response would be to ask, “Rather than go away and probably miss this deal, why not tell me what bothers you? I’m sure we can help you come to a decision today.”


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July 2006