Keep Negotiating Tactics Flexible

by Dr. Chester Karrass - Date: 2008-11-12 - Word Count: 277 Share This!

There is no right negotiating tactic if you have the wrong strategy or policy.  Strategic objectives and priorities are more important than tactics.  Yet history is full of great strategies that were defeated by poor negotiating tactics.  The two go together but are not the same.

Flexibility in the choice of your negotiating tactics is imperative.  Tactics that are right for one person are wrong for another.  Tactics that are appropriate at the start of a negotiation may prove counter productive later.  Tactics that worked yesterday may not work as well with the same person tomorrow.  Negotiating tactics that worked well in a buyers' market may prove to be stupid in a period of short supply.

Continual reassessment is the key to good tactical planning.  I ask myself these questions over and over again in every negotiation:

1.  Can I combine tactics for better effect?

2.  Is this a good time to change tactics?

3.  How will the other party react or interpret my tactic?

4.  Will this backfire on me?

5.  If my tactic is rebuffed, will I lose face or bargaining power?  How can I minimize the loss?

The choice of tactics involves ethical questions.  Ends do not justify the means.  Unethical tactics for achieving worthwhile goals ultimately destroy the positive value of those goals. Whether they like it or not, negotiators must also be philosophers when it comes to choosing tactics.

In deciding which negotiating tactics to use, one rule should not be forgotten:

Never use a tactic unless you have considered what countermeasures the other party is likely to take.

The key to selecting good negotiating tactics is flexibility and good business judgment.

Related Tags: tips, negotiation, strategy, tactics, negotiate, flexibility

Dr. Chester L. Karrass brings extensive experience, advanced academic credentials in negotiation techniques, and over 35 years experience in seminar delivery no other negotiator in the country can match. After earning an Engineering degree from the University of Colorado and a Masters in Business from Columbia University, Dr. Karrass became a negotiator for the Hughes organization. There he won the first Howard Hughes Doctoral Fellowship Award, and spent three years conducting advanced research and experimentation in negotiation techniques before earning his Doctorate from the University of Southern California.

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